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During mediation of parenting plans, consider the children first

When two people choose to get a divorce, it often means something has gone wrong in their marriage. Perhaps it was the result of a catastrophic confrontation, or maybe it was the accumulation of little problems that brought about the end. Either way, those two people now have a lot of work ahead of them as they end their marriage and begin new lives. If they can set aside their differences and work together, their divorce may not be as bad as it could be. Mediation offers a perfect opportunity for ex-spouses to settle matters amicably, and is an especially great route for divorcing parents in British Columbia to take.

In most cases, parents will continue to be connected through their children, and will need to see each other and raise children in harmony. Beginning with mediation is the perfect way to start. When parents create a parenting plan, they must make the best interests of the child their primary concern. The same is true if the issue goes to court; a judge will base his decision on the child's best interests.

The term 'best interests of the child' refers to anything that protects the psychological, physical and emotional safety of the child, as well as the child's well-being and security. Any agreement two parents make must consider these needs primarily; any benefits to the parents are incidental. Parents are encouraged to think about the child's relationships with the people in their lives, and who has historically cared for the children. If there is any risk of exposure to family violence, whether direct or observed, this must also factor in to any agreement.

Although a divorce signals the beginning of a new period of independence for the adults, for the children, life should continue as close to normal as possible. By focusing on the child's best interests, two parents should be able to create a plan that provides for the ongoing nurturing of their most precious gift. A person considering mediation may wish to contact a British Columbia family law firm with experience in that area.

Source: gov.bc.ca, "What does the law mean by 'best interests of the child'?", April 16, 2017

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