Using integrative mediation to create a parenting plan results in a workable plan that is in the best interest of the children. Both parents are more likely to comply with a parenting plan that they themselves created. Having a lawyer as a mediator ensures that the parents get information about legal issues that may be associated with parenting plans, such as whether each parent has the right to attend a child’s extra-curricular activity. Having a therapist as a mediator ensures that the parents get assistance focusing on the emotional issues that may arise for them or their children regarding the parenting plan, such as one parent not wanting the other’s new romantic partner to meet the children during visitation. Therapist and lawyer mediators have different approaches to forming a parenting plan. Using both types of professionals together can give the parties a much broader perspective on the problem and elicit more options for setting up the best possible plan for their children.
How it Works
Integrative mediation is a process whereby the parents, a lawyer, and a therapist work together to create the parenting plan. Other professionals, like financial consultants or psychologists, may be brought in to assist in the decision-making when necessary.
It is a way to disentangle the legal issues from the emotional ones. Integrative mediation also gives the parents the unique perspectives of an attorney and a therapist, each of who may see different avenues toward resolution of the parents’ disputes. Some examples of parenting plan problems that can be solved through integrative mediation include:
- Avoiding putting children in the middle of the parents’ dispute. Some parents communicate with each other by telling a child to “tell your father…” or “tell your mother…” Integrative Mediation helps the parents to realize the importance of communicating directly with each other, and how detrimental it is to a child to expect them to be the communication conduit between the parents.
- Recognizing the meaning of time spent with the children. Parents often put themselves first when they plan for “My time with the children.” Integrative mediation helps them understand the concept of, “This is my child’s time with me.” That puts the emphasis back on what is in the best interest of the children, not simply what the parent wants.
Parenting Plan Decision Examples
Parents need to consider a vast number of issues in order to set up a parenting plan that works for them and for their children. Some examples of issues that should be included in the parenting plan are:
- Agreeing on acceptable extracurricular activities and setting up a system for reaching agreements on future extracurricular activities.
- Allocating payment for extracurricular activities.
- Deciding how the children will be transported to the activities, and by whom.
- Establishing how time will be divided for the activities. For example, who will stay with the child at soccer practice? Who will transport the child to the game? Can both parents attend the game? And if so, are there ground rules for mutual attendance that will help avoid conflict and keep the children out of the middle?
- How will holidays be divided? And is one holiday more important to one parent than to the other parent?
- How will the parents resolve future disagreements about the parenting plan?
- How will the parents communicate with each other regarding the plan?
- Who makes medical decisions about the children, and how?
- Who makes educational decisions about the children, and how?
Why Integrative Mediation is Better than Going to Court
Parents that make their own parenting plan with the assistance of mediators are happier with their plans, and much less likely to seek modification in Court later. Using two mediators with different disciplines ensures that clients get the perspectives of both a lawyer and a therapist. Parents are sometimes informed of what may happen in Court if they are unable to make their own parenting plan. Litigation attorneys are expensive, and the judge will have only a few minutes to make decisions in their case. The Judge will know little or nothing about their family and may not have training in helping parties reach agreements – the Judge’s job is simply to make a decision when the parties are unable to do so. If one parent does not like the decision, options such as appeal are extremely expensive, even more adversarial, and do not have guaranteed results. Parents that make their own plans have far more control over the decisions that are made and should be the ones making decisions about their own children, rather than a Judge.
For more information about how integrated mediation can help you through the divorce process, contact us at Integrative Mediation Bay Area.