If you’re divorcing with kids, I’m sure you’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about how to make this transition. How to tell them, how to help them adjust, how to decide about custody. You want your kids to have everything they need and deserve.
Does that mean you need an aggressive divorce attorney? Actually, the opposite is true. Unless there’s abuse or danger with one parent, divorce mediation is the best way to make sure your children are the top priority. Here are five reasons why.
Your goal is to reach an agreement that’s best for your kids, not to “win” a case
The goal of divorce mediation is for you and your spouse to create a mutually beneficial agreement that’s flexible and realistic. To do that, the mediator will keep you laser-focused on what’s most important. What do you want your children’s lives to be like? How best can you accomplish that with the resources you have?
In contrast, when you choose the traditional court process, your divorce attorney’s goal is to “win” the case. Even with good intentions, it’s your lawyer’s job to fight for you. This could result in mudslinging between parents with the children caught in the middle. Naturally, this doesn’t lend itself to positive family dynamics after the divorce. When you’re divorcing with kids, you need to take a different approach.
Your divorce will take much less time than going to court, reducing stress on the whole family
A long, drawn-out divorce process can take its toll on you and your spouse, but even more so on your children. Kids need stability and consistency. The uncomfortable sense of limbo is bound to affect their emotional state, and could even result in acting out.
Lawyers.com reported that the average divorce in California for couples with children takes 18 months. That’s for divorces that went through the traditional court process. By choosing mediation, most couples can easily cut that timeline in half. There’s still a six-month waiting period in the state of California, but by choosing divorce mediation you can make sure the process doesn’t take much longer than that.
Your divorce will be less costly, which means more resources for your children
When you litigate your divorce, each spouse has their own divorce attorney. That means you’re paying double. Each attorney will conduct a discovery process, prepare your case, and make court appearances. You’re also paying each of them to talk to each other about your case since the attorneys will negotiate terms on your behalf. As you can imagine, the costs add up quickly.
According to Lawyers.com, the average cost for a divorce in California (for couples with children) is $26,300. Mediation costs significantly less, in most cases between $5,000 – $10,000. That extra money can make the transition go more smoothly. Splitting into separate households means that your budget will need to expand. When you’re divorcing with kids, keeping the costs down is about more than money. You’re making sure your children have everything they need to maintain the same quality of life, or as close as possible.
You decide what’s best for your children, not a judge
In a contested case, a judge will receive limited information from your lawyers. The judge may talk to the children briefly or hear from a psychologist about their observations. Then they’ll use their best judgment to order a custody schedule for the parents. That means they’ll have total control over how your children will spend time with you. Even if you have the best divorce attorney, you’re still at the mercy of a judge, who has their own opinions about children and families.
You and your spouse are the experts on your children – their expectations, personalities, quirks, and special needs. By choosing divorce mediation, you can make sure that custody and parenting decisions are the absolute best for them – now and in the future. You’re also both more committed to the plan since you both had a hand in building it.
You’re preparing for your new role as co-parents
Through the cooperative approach of mediation, you’ll learn to communicate effectively and create a workable plan. It’s the beginning of a new relationship that’s respectful and future-focused. You’ll be setting an excellent example for your children.
But you might be wondering – my spouse and I never agreed on anything during our marriage, how can we cooperate now? Part of every qualified mediator’s training is how to assist couples who have high emotions but still want to work things out peacefully for the sake of their children. They’re trained to facilitate productive communication and identify ways to diffuse conflict when it’s too heated.
The experience of mediation can help you years after the divorce as well. No parenting plan can anticipate everything. You’ll need to negotiate throughout your years as co-parents. And if you get stuck, you can work with a mediator again for specific issues.
In most cases, divorce mediation is the best way to protect and provide for your children. This collaborative process also sets the right tone for a positive co-parenting relationship, which is what your children really need. If you’re divorcing with kids, I’d love to help you create a healthy transition. Want to learn more? Contact me for a free consultation.