Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shared Parenting - Mediation Can Serve As A Reality Check For Your Parenting Plan

Are you sharing nicely when it comes to the children?

Every parent has told their children many times that they have to be nice and share. To sweeten the job of sharing, parents may get each child involved, so that, for example, one child divides the pile of candy and the other child chooses first.

When parents are sharing children, it's just as important that the same niceties are observed, and that each parent is involved in creating a balanced parenting schedule. If the schedule favors one parent with significantly more time than the other, that second parent is much less likely to comply with the plan.

Mediation serves as a reality check for parents when they are working out the details of a parenting plan and parenting schedule. For example, from an objective perspective, a mediator may ask one parent if s/he would be willing to accept the schedule if the roles were reversed. If the answer is a resounding NO, the mediator can lead the parents into a discussion of how the schedule could be more balanced in the quantity and quality of the parenting time for both parents.

Shared balance in a parenting schedule does not necessarily mean equal time for each parent; it DOES mean adopting a schedule that allows the children to have the best of both parents. For example, if one parent is available while the other parent is working, an optimal shared schedule would place the children with that parent instead of in daycare.

Each parenting schedule can be as unique as the people using it, and the best ones are balanced, thoughtful and creative. The beauty of the mediation process is that it helps parents explore new possibilities and create a schedule that really works for the whole family.

© 2008, Mary Wollard, Family Solutions Center, LLC

Mary A. Wollard, JD, is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator with over 20 years experience in solving the legal issues of divorce, parenting (custody), marital property and support. Visit for free downloadable worksheets you can use to organize your family's transition.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

California Divorce and Child Custody: What is the Purpose of Child Custody Mediation?

Mediation in California is a form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, facilitated by a mediator, which allows parents of a child custody and visitation dispute an opportunity to resolve their disagreements without a litigated hearing. As pointed out in Family Code 3170, mediation is a mandatory process in California that must take place before a contested issue regarding custody and visitation is heard in a litigated hearing. Mediation has a specific purpose and mediators should adhere to certain guidelines and standards when conducting mediation.

Mediation Standards

There are certain standards that apply to mediation services. The rules for mediation are set forth in the California Rules of Court 5.210. Rule 5.210 applies to court-connected child custody mediation and addresses the authority of mediation, purpose of mediation, mediation definitions, Responsibility for mediation services, mediation process, training, continuing education, and experience requirements for mediator, mediation supervisor, and family court services director, education and training providers, and ethics as it relates to California mediators and California mediation.

Mediation Purpose

The purpose of mediation is to help the parents of a child custody dispute resolve their disagreements and build a parenting plan together in mediation that reflects the overall best interest of the children. The purpose of mediation is outlined in Family Code 3161.

Mediation Limitations

Mediation may not be able to help all parents work out their disputes. Some cases are too complex or far too acrimonious. In some cases, a parent will change his/her mind after signing an agreement in mediation. If you sign an agreement in mediation and later change your mind, you may be able to cancel your agreement by submitting your cancellation request to mediation services in writing. However, you will want to consult an attorney to learn how to properly cancel your agreement and the timeline upon which you can do it.

If you are involved in mediation you will want to consult an attorney in your area to help you learn about the mediation process, standards, purpose, your rights, and what mediators can and cannot do in mediation.

© 2007 Child Custody Coach

Child Custody Coach supplies information, online materials, and coaching services to parents in the field of child custody, namely, divorce, child custody and visitation, child custody evaluations, 730 evaluations, parenting, and all issues related to child custody and divorce. "How to Win Child Custody - Proven Strategies that can Win You Custody and Save You Thousands in Attorney Cost!" is a unique child custody strategy guide written by The Custody Coach and made available by Child Custody Coach in an easy to read, understand, and apply E-Book format. Custody Match is an online consumer and family law attorney matching service to help you in your search for the right attorney for your divorce or child custody case. Custody Match can help you find the right family law attorney, divorce lawyer, or child custody attorney in your area.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Coping With Divorce - How To Use A Basic Parenting Plan To Help Your Children Survive and Thrive

Going through their parents' divorce is a hard experience for most children. Some of my child clients have told me that it was like getting a divorce themselves.

One way you can reduce the wear and tear on your kids and make the aftermath of the divorce go more smoothly is to create a basic parenting plan.

Both spouses should develop the plan together and agree to implement it, for the sake of the children. Your children will fare much better if you prepare a plan that both spouses will use in a consistent way. That way the kids have the same rules and expectations when they are with either parent.

Your Basic Plan

A good plan should include the following:

1. A statement of agreement about the purpose of the plan, date and signatures of both parents

2. A basic philosophy as to how the children will be parented

3. Standards of conduct for the parents and expectations for parental behavior

4. A schedule of the time the children will spend with each parent and transportation provisions

5. How disputes will be handled and resolved

6. Emergency plan in case of an accident, disease, or death of a parent

7. What happens if someone breaks the agreement

8. Financial agreements: who pays what and when

9. Provisions for updating or reviewing the parent plan

10. Religious training

11. How will medical and dental needs be met and who is responsible

12. Child care standards and arrangements

You can think of other items that can go into the plan. The above will give you an idea of what you can include.


Drawing up a parent plan is a positive step for divorcing parents to take - one that will make it easier for the children to cope with the divorce and prevent unnecessary conflicts between the parents.

The plan will set an expectation for co-parenting so that the burden falls equally on both parents . . . and the kids never feel like they have lost one parent.

A parenting plan is a great way to not only help the children, but streamline the task of parenting in the aftermath of a divorce. In essence, a parenting plan sets healthy expectations for parental behavior, and helps to prevent arguments, fights and feuds, which can only negatively impact the children.

It will help the parents to stay calm, remain unemotional and behave in a mature fashion. And it will reassure the children that there will always be cooperation, rather than conflict and competition, among their parents.

A basic parenting document will serve as a symbol of the parents' good will and positive intentions. It will help to maintain the integrity of the original family, and allow the kids access to both parents.

In sum, how can you lose if you and your X agree to create your own parenting plan - one that will keep your children out of the middle and allow them to keep healthy relationships with both parents?

Richard Hamon is a professional therapist and coach with over 25 years of experience. His business, Relationships For Success Coaching, helps people to improve their relationships and enjoy success in all areas of their lives.

Richard has written a unique eBook, The Ultimate Relationship Solution: How Secrets Discovered From A Near Death Experience Can Help You Ignite Passion and Realize Success in All Your Relationships. The eBook tells about an actual Near Death Experience the author had in 2003, which transformed his life and led to a series of insights, revelations and secrets about relationships.

You can find Richard's eBook, The Ultimate Relationship Solution at: LINKED TEXT

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