Parenting Time Schedules
Children will pretty much go along with any parenting schedule and be okay with it, so long as it is consistent. Children must know when they are coming and going, and it must not change (at least not very often and without good reason). Keeping to the schedule and making that schedule readily available to the children are very important. Once a schedule is worked out in divorce mediation, it is a good idea to highlight it and post it on the refrigerator (or other common place) at each home. Parents should attempt to negotiate a parenting time schedule that works best for the both the parents and children, with the understanding that both parents’ and children’s schedules may likely change throughout childhood. Be prepared to have to sit down and mediate again if jobs change, or activities for children change.
Keep in mind that you will only ever be able to effectively control what happens during the time when your children are with you. Thus, if there are particular activities that you want your children to experience, you will only be able to advance those activities during your time. You will need the future support of your former spouse regarding other activities, which may interfere with his or her time. Thus, you both have very good incentives to communicate and work together for not only the kids’ sake, but yours too.
Appropriate Conversation & Communication
It is important to discuss and agree upon during mediation what is, and what is not, appropriate conversation and communication with (and in front of) your children. For example, telling your children that you are divorcing is appropriate. Tell them why you are divorcing is not. Also, it is not appropriate for either parent to talk negatively about the other parent in front of (or in ear shot of) the children. This is putting your children in the middle of your fight and it will negatively affect your children. Talking about issues related to your children such as money or other adult issues you may have with your former spouse is not appropriate. Again this is putting your children in the middle of adult matters. It is in your children’s best interest if you and your spouse can agree in mediation to not discuss such matters in front of the children.
Some mediation issues need tangible documents available to engage in a productive negotiation. Child support is one of those issues. All domestic courts require that that the parties address child support issues for all minor children. To calculate child support amounts, your mediator will need to know various income related information, childcare costs, health insurance costs, and possibly other child related expense information. It makes no sense to discuss those issues without the parties having documents to support those figures. Parties can avoid conflict by bringing to divorce mediation documents to support those numbers.
Not only are documents that evidence financial figures necessary to run child support calculations necessary, but also, documents such as school and activity schedules are essential for negotiating parenting time. Do not waste your time in a divorce mediation session not having these necessary documents with you.
For any questions regarding divorce mediation, please contact Lisa Nelson at San Francisco Area Mediation at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation.