There are countless examples in the media (fictional and in the tabloids)
that present divorce as an ugly battle where nothing is under the belt
and EVERYTHING is up for grabs. It leaves a lot of unhappy married couples
terrified to take the next step by filing for divorce. In reality, divorce
cases can be very difficult, but they don’t have to be. In fact,
many who are considering divorce are turning to mediation in order to
minimize the conflict associated with the process.
Mediation can be particularly useful in cases where a couple is having
difficulty agreeing upon a parenting plan that works for everyone. If
you are a divorcing parent and you want to work out a co-parenting plan,
but haven’t been able to come to an agreement with your soon to
be ex, consider arranging for mediation.
Preparing forLegal Decision Making and Parenting Time Mediation: Creating a Parenting Plan
- Put together a history of the relationship between you and your ex. Start
when you met, include major milestones or “changes” in the
relationship, i.e. when you moved in together, when you got married, when
you separated, times during which you attended marriage counseling, etc.
These are all questions that the mediator will ask in order to get an
idea of who you are. It is also a good way for the mediator to find out
if both of you remember the same things and have the same understanding
of the relationship. It’s good to review the details beforehand.
- Next, start a history of parenting. Include the timeshare of “parenting
time” and legal decision making immediately following the separation,
the first six months after the separation, any changes in this behavior
from six months to a year after the separation, any significant changes
in the next couple of years, and the current arrangement. Use your own
information to notice any areas that will lead to obvious questions so
you will have answers prepared.
- Next put together your own personal history. Are you remarried? Are the
grandparents (of the child/ren being discussed) living or dead? Married
or not? Where do grandparents live? Are they involved in the child’s
life? How many siblings do you have? What is your relationship with them
(historically and presently?) What type of contact do you have with extended
family? What type of life did you lead as a child (be brief)? What type
of life did you lead as a teenager? Young adult? Adult? What type of education
do you have? What is your work history? Where do you live? Does anyone
live with you? What is your drug and alcohol history? Do you have any
DUIs or related hospitalizations? Is there any domestic violence in your history?
- Put together a few sample parenting plans. The mediator will be looking
for flexibility regarding parenting issues and timesharing. How do you
intend to co-parent with the other parent? Are you putting the child’s
best interests ahead of what you wish for yourself? Keep this in mind
when you put together sample parenting plans that range from the child
living with you to one that is NOT what you want at all, but what you
could live with if you absolutely had to. This particular bit of the preparation
is not necessarily to show to the mediator. This is more a help for you.
It will help you be prepared to go into the meeting having considered
all the possibilities and with an open mind.
- Put together a list of your specific concerns. If you have specific concerns
regarding the other parent’s parenting, make sure to have a list
with you for the mediation. Have it ready for review and discussion.
- Also put together a list of action the other parent could take. If you
have a list of specific concerns regarding the other parent’s parenting,
put together another list of what that parent could do to address your
concerns or minimize your concern on the matters.
- Put together a list similar to #5 above, but reflecting concerns that the
other parent may have about your parenting. Also include what you could
do to address these concerns.
- Prepare a list of reasons why your home is best for your child. Keep it
simple. Explain why your child will be comfortable in your home. Keep
in mind, that the mediator will undoubtedly feel that it is important
that the child have their “own space” in your home even when
they are not there.
Determining the legal decision making and
parenting time in dissolution cases is usually the most difficult aspect of the proceeding. Many feel more
comfortable addressing the extremely emotional issues within the confines
of professional mediation. If mediation does not successfully result in
agreement on all terms of the parenting plan, the unresolved issues would
still be addressed in court. If you have questions about mediation or
if you would like to find out if mediation would be a good idea for your
situation, please get in touch with the Arizona divorce lawyers at
Arizona Family Law Attorneys today.