Divorce and Children -- Preparing and Entering Mediation

Sometimes, with all the best intentions in the world, marriages fail. It can be a sad and trying time for the couple concerned, but it can be far worse when children are involved. Before you contact a family law solicitor to arrange your divorce, you should look at a mediation service to help you establish a parenting plan and routine for your children. This will allow your children to move on to the next chapter of their lives more smoothly. It will also help you to avoid bitter battles that can be an emotional and financial drain and negatively impact the lives of your kids.

Preparing for Mediation

For the most part, the court system requires that you enter into some form of mediation before going to court for a parenting order. To get the most out of this process, you should do some preparation. It's good to have a clear idea of what you need to achieve from the process before it starts.

Make a list of the things that you and your former partner can agree upon and the things you can't. It is a good idea to consider all the things you can't agree upon and make a list of the reasons why these things are difficult for you and why they matter. However, this is not about scoring points, and you will gain more if you can approach the process prepared to negotiate and, if necessary, to compromise.

What You Should Be Aiming to Achieve in Mediation

Your aim will be to enter an informal agreement on all matters concerning your children during this process. This will help to ensure that your children can make a smooth transition from life with parents in the same home to life with parents in separate homes. You'll want to have rules for the fundamental elements of parenting your children in the future. A parenting plan should be easier to achieve in a neutral, no blame environment such as mediation.

A Guide to the Questions to Be Answered in Mediation

There are a few main questions that you should be able to answer after mediation:

  • Who will your children live with?
  • What time will they spend with the absent parent and their family members?
  • How will you share the responsibility for your children?
  • How will you discuss future issues and decisions about your children?

Being able to establish an informal parenting agreement will allow you to minimise the disruption to your kids' lives and to start this new chapter with a plan. You will still need to see family law solicitors to discuss maintenance and property division, but this needn't affect your children as they will have a set routine in place.