Divorce mediation is built on a spirit of cooperation and a desire on the part of both parties to work toward a low-conflict separation. While this can be extremely helpful for both the parties’ and any children’s well-being, it’s not always easy. Sometimes people go in to a mediation thinking they will be able to work out an agreement but then find that their negative emotions take over.
Feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment and betrayal are all common during a divorce, but any time these feelings start to come into your settlement discussions, it can have a negative effect and decrease the chances of coming to an agreement. One thing that can especially hold mediation attempts back is spying on your ex’s communications and behaviors online.
Many couples are privy to each other’s online social media accounts and passwords while the relationship is still intact. If one party does not change the passwords, it can be very tempting for the other to log in in an attempt to see what the other person is doing or what they are saying about the divorce.
While the law is still catching up to the increase in technology and social media and how that can affect divorce proceedings, it’s best to avoid spying on your ex through these online means. In addition to making it more challenging to come to a settlement agreement in mediation, it may also be illegal.
If you believe that your ex is engaging in behaviors that may have a very real impact on your divorce settlement, such as hiding assets, it’s best to talk to your attorney. This allows you to ensure any potential evidence is collected through legal means and able to be presented in a British Columbia court if needed.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Is spying on your spouse legal?,” accessed April 20, 2016
In previous blog posts, we discussed some of the factors that can hurt mediation attempts. If you are going through mediation for a child custody matter, you should make sure that you keep your child at the center of the process. You should not allow your child to be used as a pawn in the mediation.
Before you begin the mediation process, you have to consider a few points that must be addressed. Thinking about these can help you prepare.
Two of the most important points to consider are where the child will live and how much contact each parent will have with the child. This is often a source of contention since both parents usually want their child with them.
In some cases, it is appropriate to split time evenly between both parents. This might be the case if you and your ex still live close to each other. If the child is in school, it is important for the child to make it to school daily. This can become a consideration during the child custody mediation since the location of each parent’s home could impact the ability to do so.
Another area that must be decided upon is who will make decisions about how the child is raised. This can include matters such as health care and religious experiences. It can also include decisions about the child’s social life and education. Again, this is something that can be split between the parents.
Each point is an area that can be compromised upon. In many cases, coming to an agreement on these matters will involve some back and forth. Your mediator can help keep the process on track.
If you are in the midst of a divorce, or have been through one and are coping with the aftereffects, it’s imperative to work through your co-parenting issues for the sake of the kids. Even parents who go through a collaborative divorce can have them.
Below are some things to keep in mind as you struggle to navigate the parenting shoals of your kids’ post-divorce world.
— Put the kids’ needs first. They are especially vulnerable now, so make sure that their attachment and security needs are met. Help them forge a path to the new normal by reassuring them that all of you will get through this and nothing will ever make Daddy or Mommy stop loving them.
— Learn to separate and cope with your own crises so that you can be a better, more involved parent. If you are constantly upset and anxiety-ridden, these feelings will spill over to your children and make them insecure as well. Get counseling if necessary to learn positive coping skills.
— Give the kids the gift of continuity and stability. Establish limits and be clear about expectations. Consistency matters. While there will be individual differences in minor rules in both parents’ homes, come to accord with your ex on “red rules” dealing with shared core values.
— Keep new elements out of your life in the very beginning. While you may be ready for a hot new romance, it could devastate the kids. Allow them time to adjust.
— Work with your ex when big decisions have to be made. Allow your children to see that it is possible to interact with your ex civilly and calmly. That is a life lesson they may one day need.
— Remain respectful of your ex, at least around the kids. Don’t put them in the position of being a go-between or having to defend their other parent.
When all options have been tried and there are still sticking points, you may want consider returning to court for modification of the court order if necessary.
Source: Huffington Post, “4 Reasons Why Co-Parenting Post Divorce Matters More Than Ever,” Dana Westreich Hirt, April 11, 2016
Going through a divorce can be difficult for any adult; however, when there are children involved, the divorce can be much more difficult. One way that you and your child’s other parent can handle the child custody aspect of the divorce, as well as issues that come up with the child custody after the divorce, is by using alternative dispute resolution.
We fully understand that the thought of having to deal with your child’s other parent might not be akin to a nightmare. The good news is that when you use ADR, which includes mediation and arbitration, you won’t necessarily have to deal directly with your child’s other parent. Instead, you work with a third party to come to a resolution.
While mediation and arbitration both have their pros and cons, there is an option, med-arb, that combines both processes. When med-arb is used, the process starts off with mediation to resolve the issues at hand. Any issues that aren’t resolved through the mediation process, which involves you and your child’s other parent making the decisions, are moved to arbitration.
When the issues that weren’t resolved move to mediation, the mediator considers both sides and makes a ruling. You and your child’s other parent don’t get to decide the issues that are being arbitrated. The decision made by the arbitrator is binding.
We know that all of this might leave you with questions about how med-arb can help or harm your child custody case. We can help you to get the answers you need so that you can move forward with your child custody.