It is in the children’s best interest to have parents reach mutual decisions concerning their children rather than an individual who knows little about the children other than a few hours in a contested hearing. Often when parents are told they will have to attend mediation on parenting issues I observe an eye role or a sigh as if it is a lot of extra work. People do not understand the importance of mediation in these circumstances. It is going to be more cost effective, less stress on the family, and produce a better environment for all if you can do the following:
- Narrow the scope of the disagreement! Clearly delineate and break down the areas requiring decision making. Some parents are so emotionally upset with the other parent that they just do not want to even look at them much less talk to them. In the best interest of your kids, you need to put your emotions aside. These are the major areas the court is looking for you to agree upon:
- Health care;
- Extra-Curricular; and
- Parenting time for both parents;
If you have older children, then there will already be a history of decisions made on these issues and a mediator and/or your attorney should help you break these down further so that an agreement can be made. For example, a suggestion on medical might be that if the pediatrician was selected a long time ago and the child still sees that doctor, why not agree to follow the recommendations of the doctor if there is a disagreement? Your mediator and attorney should be able to help you generate more options like this. You may not settle everything but if you can settle some matters, that is well worth your time, money and overall well-being of the family.