You and your soon-to-be former spouse may have agreed that she would stay home with the children while you worked. Now, after years of being the sole source of income for the family, you and your wife decided to end your marriage and you wonder whether you will get enough time with your children.
In the immediate aftermath of making such a life-changing decision, you may be envisioning the Hollywood version of divorce in which the parties search for weaknesses and attack each other from across a California courtroom. You know that you have a long road ahead of you when it comes to resolving issues such as property division and child custody, but you wonder whether that road has to be so adversarial.
There may be another way
Divorce is often difficult on everyone involved, especially the children. If you and your wife can avoid a contentious court battle, it may be worth the effort. Using mediation to resolve your custody issues could provide you with a way to do so in a less adversarial and more satisfying way.
You may want to consider the following advantages of mediating child custody issues:
- Mediation helps parents put the best interests of their children first. In a courtroom battle, custody issues are often more about punishing each other than about what works best for them.
- Mediation removes the element of blame from the process. It focuses more on the future than the past and encourages parents to remove their personal relationship from the process, since many parents would admit that the other is a good parent — even if he or she isn't a good husband or wife.
- Mediation often provides parents with the tools they need to communicate more effectively in order to come to an agreement. Those skills can serve both of you in the future as you co-parent.
- Mediation encourages you and your wife to work out an agreement that best meets the needs of your children. When your focus remains on the children, you will probably end up with a more satisfying agreement that gives each of you ample time with the children.
Child custody mediation can relieve some of the stress surrounding the divorce. You may not be able to avoid all of the stress associated with the situation, but if you can actively avoid it in other areas, especially where the children are involved, it could make the inevitable transitions and changes easier to handle.
Documenting a mediated custody agreement
Once you and the other parent come to an agreement, it will need to be documented in accordance with California law in order to pass the scrutiny of the court. Making use of local legal resources to help you with this and the mediation process could help ensure that your rights as a father are protected.