PARENTS BENEFIT FROM MEDIATING PARENTING AND CUSTODY ISSUES
Divorce mediation is a cooperative process for parents wanting to discuss issues regarding custody and parenting. Parents with children must work out a schedule that includes how they will share time with their children as well as care and support their children. The parenting plan also includes the parent’s custody rights and financial responsibilities like legal custody and child support. Also called a parenting agreement, this document outlines how parents will share time and care and support their children. The agreement also states how parents will make decisions to ensure the well-being of their children after divorce.
A DIVORCE MEDIATOR WILL HELP COUPLES CREATE A PARENTING AGREEMENT
A top priority for all parents is the best interests of their children. A detailed parenting agreement is critical to ensuring that the children’s best interests have been addressed. A divorce mediator can assist a couple communicate, negotiate and create their own parenting agreement. A divorce mediator will help a couple explore different options and work towards an agreement that feels fair to each parent. Although a divorce mediator cannot provide legal advice, instead they will help the parents arrive at mutually acceptable solutions on their own. An agreement created by the parents themselves is more likely to be followed. If one parent is unhappy with the agreement, the parents can wind up back in court after the divorce.
A PARENTING AGREEMENT ADDRESSES SPECIAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN
A parenting agreement ensures clarity and consistency for parents and children. A parenting schedule will also address unique circumstances related to the children’s needs. Special circumstances such as medical conditions, special needs and educational differences will be addressed in the agreement. The agreement will provide how parents decide on the activities children participate in and sharing the cost of activities. Parents need to know their financial obligations before they sign the agreement. The agreement will also address what happens if one parent wants to relocate. In Connecticut, if one parent wants to relocate with the children, the other parent must consent. A parent must petition the court for permission to leave the state if the other parent does not consent.
PARENTS MUST AGREE ON DECISION MAKING REGARDING THEIR CHILDREN
The parenting agreement will outline how major decisions will be made by the parents. Major decisions include decisions about education, healthcare, and religious upbringing of children. Parents that agree to make decisions together have joint legal custody. Sole custody is when one parent has sole decision-making. Communication between parents is important. Couples with children must be able to communicate effectively about the children’s activities, where they attend school, school progress, and health. The parenting agreement will include day-to day parenting time and how parents will share holidays and school vacations with the children.
A DIVORCE MEDIATOR MUST HAVE DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW EXPERIENCE
The divorce mediator can prepare the parenting agreement. The parenting agreement will contain everything the parents agreed to about custody, parenting time and supporting their children. A mediator who is also a lawyer can prepare legal documents. A non-lawyer mediator cannot prepare legal documents. It is important to note that while divorce mediators can assist in creating a parenting agreement, the divorce mediator does not represent either parent. Therefore, it is a recommended that each parent have an independent attorney review the parenting agreement before finalizing it and signing. An independent review by an attorney helps ensure the parent understands the terms and responsibilities contained in the parenting agreement and that the agreement complies with Connecticut’s laws and standard practices.
BY: Attorney Susan Wakefield, Attorney Mediator
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce attorney, divorce mediator, or one of our other skilled professionals, please contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221–3100, or email us at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or SWakefield@mayalaw.com. Our firm offers free consultations in person or video conference to discuss the benefits of divorce mediation in helping you reach an agreement on custody and parenting in your divorce. We are also available to discuss any other divorce or family law matter.