Using Meditation to Create a Parenting Time-Share Plan

If you have been unsuccessful in preparing a parenting time-share agreement with your ex-spouse, mediation is a good way to reboot, get an unbiased opinion, and hopefully reach a solution that both you and your ex are relatively happy with, and most importantly, is in the best interests of your child.

In Marin County, the Court offers Child Custody Recommending Counseling or mediation. Marin is a “recommending” county, which means that if you attend mediation and you and your ex-spouse reach an agreement, the mediator will write up that agreement and submit it to the judicial officer, who will sign it and make it an order. However, if you and your ex-spouse cannot reach an agreement, the mediator will make a recommendation to the court based on their observations during the mediation session. An Order to Show Cause Hearing will then be scheduled, where the judge will make a decision after reading the mediator’s report and hearing objections to that report from both parents. For more information on this process, check out the Marin County Superior Court’s website: http://www.marincourt.org/family_services.htm

How to Prepare for Parenting Time-Share Mediation

When preparing for mediation, you will want to gather together the necessary documentation. The mediation sessions are designed to work out custody schedules, so any documents that you can bring to help determine this schedule will be helpful. Your child’s yearly school schedule, including holidays, will be useful to have in front of you. Also, a list of your child’s extracurricular activities and the times at which they occur, will make it easier to determine after school pick-ups. Bring your work schedule as well, including your time off and how much vacation you get per year.

Come to Mediation with the Right Attitude

It is always helpful to come to mediation with the right attitude. Whether you have managed to get through the divorce process by dealing amicably with your spouse, or whether you have been engaged in a battle since before the divorce process began, try to get yourself to a place before the mediation where you can act like the bigger person. These sessions are designed to promote the best interests of your children, not to serve as a platform for you or your ex-spouse to prove how much you don’t like each other. Come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to have a reasonable discussion about and likely negotiate over the time that you are able to spend with your children, which can be a very stressful, ire-raising process. But, if both you and your spouse are willing to have the discussion in a calm fashion, the results will be infinitely better.

Show The Mediator that You Are a Good Parent

Once you finally get to mediation, attitude remains one of the most important things that you can control. It may be that you came into the mediation session with intent to act like the better person, but after a few snide comments from your ex-spouse, you’re ready to start slinging mud. Resist this urge at all cost. Show the mediator that discussing a schedule that is best for your children is more important than responding to your spouse’s unprofessional behavior. Don’t try to focus the sessions solely on how bad of a parent the other party is. Try to show the mediator how good a parent you are.

Discuss with the mediator the time you spend with your child, and what you do when you are together. Give them facts about the hobbies you do with your children and about the similar interests you share. If you can reach an agreement with your spouse, all the better. But, if you can’t, the mediator will make their own recommendation to the court. You want the mediator to see you as a loving parent, someone whom the child will truly benefit from being around. Don’t let their impression of you be of someone who spent the entire mediation time badmouthing the other parent.

If you can listen to your ex-spouse, focus on speaking about what is in the best interest of your child and remain open to various possibilities, the Parenting Time-Share mediation will be much easier and effective.

NOTE: The advice above is given to parties where no allegations of domestic violence have been made.

If you have questions about meeting with a mediator, please contact Christina Sherman at (415) 457-4367, or email her at christina@theshermanlawoffice.com.

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