Shared parenting: disputes over child arrangements

Separation and divorce brings out strong emotions in couples; trying to make arrangements for your children can be a fraught, unhappy process. The psychological damage to children experiencing their parents’ contentious divorces can be lasting.

Making arrangements for shared-parenting when emotions are running high is very difficult. In this situation when feelings have become embittered, children caught up in the fight can be used as pawns or bargaining chips. Skilled, expert mediation can help you.

Choosing an experienced mediation professional can lower the emotional temperature and help you to work towards a sensible, flexible co-parenting schedule that takes into account the best interests of your children. Mediators are neutral and will encourage calm communication in such a way that both parents feel heard and understood.

Mediation can take place together in one room or in two rooms; mediators understand how to arrange matters to achieve the best result possible. A good mediator will win the trust of both parents and work in a partnership with them to achieve a plan that is best suited to their children.

Mediations concerning shared-parenting plans are usually two-hours long and are spaced every few weeks often over 4-6 sessions. Parents or carers can decide a plan for the short term, perhaps for the next few weeks or months, to observe how the child fares. This is especially important for small children who may need time to adjust to the changes. Subsequent short mediation sessions are sometimes useful every few months to iron our parenting issues and assess and review the contact arrangements.

Mediators are neutral facilitators and are not evaluative or arbitrators. Their job is to help the parties arrive at a workable plan together that that is best for the children.

Other issues that can be discussed in child arrangements mediations are ‘agreed behaviours’. This means the parties agreeing on how they will behave towards each other, that they will communicate using respectful language, keeping distressing disputes away from your children.

Children feel their parents’ emotions very deeply; they may think they have to take sides or to be ‘brave’. Mediation keeps the dispute away from the children and helps the parties to formulate a plan that is best for their well-being.

Using the court system to decide children’s arrangements means that decisions are taken out of the parties hands and the shape of the contact with the children will be decided by the court.

How much better to mediate such important decisions.

  • Court is expensive and time-consuming.
  • You may not get the result you want.
  • Mediators are neutral.
  • Mediators will help you come to decisions that are in children’s best interests.
  • Mediators understand how painful the breakdown of a relationship can be.
  • Mediators are sensitive and have experienced in a wide-range of family disputes.
  • Mediators are not arbitrators; they will help you to come to your own arrangements for your children.
  • Mediators work with you to agree more respectful communication.
  • Mediators help you both to arrive at age-appropriate child arrangements which are in the best interests of your children.
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