3 tips to help parents prepare for divorce mediation

When a divorce involves litigation, the process is often lengthy, expensive and intensely stressful for both parents and children. Today more and more Americans are turning to divorce mediation instead of the courts to make crucial decisions about their families’ futures.

Mediation offers an alternative that may save time, money and untold emotional strain for separating couples who are willing to work together to solve difficult problems regarding dividing property, making custody arrangements, settling support payments and more.

However, while mediation offers many potential benefits, the process still takes effort, patience and understanding. Here are a few quick tips for those preparing for a mediated divorce.

1. Keep sessions focused on communication

Even when both partners genuinely want to cooperate, it is not likely that they will immediately agree on everything. That is especially true when so many important decisions about the future are at stake.

With emotions running high, even a relatively minor conflict can seem insurmountable. It may be helpful to take some time before each mediation session to make a personal inventory of essential needs and concerns to keep the conversation focused on solving problems rather than dwelling on them.

2. Participate in parenting classes sooner, rather than later

These mandatory courses can be invaluable in helping newly divorced parents to develop effective co-parenting skills, maintain a mutually respectful relationship and ultimately minimize the emotional impact on children. Taking these classes early in the mediation process may also help separating parents to make more informed decisions when negotiating issues of custody and support.

3. Know that you can consult multiple neutral professionals

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to divorce. While certified mediators have specific training in both the legal aspects of separation and conflict resolution, they often encourage couples to seek assistance from other professionals who act as third-party advisors during the process.

From financial advisors and tax specialists to family and child therapists, there are many resources available for parents dedicated to creating a solid future for themselves and their children.

Developing a parenting plan in Florida

A divorce is hard on a family. The well-being of your children is subject to turmoil during this difficult time. When you have children, it is important to put aside the differences you and your spouse have to ensure that you co-parent agreeably. 

When you find yourself in the middle of a divorce, it is important to think about your parenting plan with your spouse to enable your children thrive under new circumstances. The court may grant, approve or modify your parenting plan. 

Parenting plan requirements

The Florida statute outlines minimum requirements that a parenting plan approved by the court must meet. 

The parenting plan needs to describe how the parents will share daily responsibilities associated with raising the child. It must have the time-sharing schedule arrangements dictating how much time the child spends with each parent. Also, it must note who is responsible for school matters, health care, and other activities. Lastly, the parenting plan should describe how the parents will communicate with the child. 

The court determines the time-sharing and parenting matters in the best interest of each minor child. The parenting plan is subject to modification if sudden changes arise in the circumstances of one of the parents. 

Staying civil during meetings for a parenting plan

Contesting custody is costly and very painful for everyone involved. Sometimes by the end of a grueling case, no one is happy with the court’s decisions. It is important to resolve disputes so that you and your spouse can have a reasonable agreement where the children do not suffer. 

Keep your children at the center of the discussion. Ensure that the conversation involves what you and your spouse need from one another to support your children. 

Talk about your goals and outcomes as parents. Your family is changing how it looks, and it does not have to be for the worse. Laying out what each of you wants to happen is a great way to begin making a parenting plan. 

Co-parenting is a challenge, but ensuring the children have a stable life takes a backseat to your feelings. Coming up with a parenting plan that allows the children to have a relationship with both parents in the main goal. 

Prepare for the financial risks of divorcing later in life

In all honesty, there is no best or good time to divorce. Some couples decide to part ways as soon as possible, while others might prefer to wait until the children grow up and leave the home. The longer couples wait to divorce, however, the more financial risk they might face.

If the couple married decades prior, the marital property might become a tangled web. The dependent spouse might also begin to worry about how to move forward without the financial income of the breadwinner spouse. These are setbacks to consider, but couples do overcome them.

Divorce rising among older people

Divorcing when older is fairly common in America. Forbes notes that while divorce rates declined among couples from 25 to 39 years old, the opposite occurred with older couples. People over 50 saw a 109% increase in divorces. Even when couples did not at first intend to divorce, new issues can arise at this point when children leave the home and couples begin to spend more time together.

Reduction in sources of assets

Both dependent spouses and breadwinners see a reduction in how many places they can receive income from and how much, over time. Investments might grow, but high-earning nine-to-five career opportunities might become less available as people near and reach retirement. This presents a challenge even for couples with solid retirement plans.

Rethinking retiring together

The Washington Post points out that when couples first design retirement plans, they usually do so with the expectation to share expenses until the end. However, when retirement income must now support two separate households, this increases expenses exponentially.

If both parties commit to downsizing and compromising, however, they can move past these issues. Working with a financial advisor might also help couples grow their current incomes through investments to ensure they increase their chances of retiring comfortably.

Pet attachments and divorce

Many families today consider their pets treasured members of their families. From dogs and cats to birds and reptiles, humans develop strong attachments to their pets. 

When a pet-owning couple in Florida decides to get a divorce, they must figure out where the pet will live after the marriage ends. A collaborative, less adversarial approach to a divorce may facilitate this in a manner more positive than in a litigated divorce. 

An issue across the nation 

Time magazine reported on a case in which divorcing spouses in Rhode Island could not agree on who would receive custody of their dogs. The matter resulted in a battle lasting two years and making its way to the State Supreme Court where the judge handed down a shared custody order. 

Pew Trusts indicates that some states have passed legislation outlining provisions and guidance to judges with which to make pet custody determinations. The laws acknowledge pets as some form of property but not akin to inanimate objects like furniture. Instead, pets necessitate special considerations in divorce negotiations. 

Collaborative divorces and pets 

Spouses who engage in a collaborative approach to their divorce generally experience less conflict during divorce discussions. When considering their pets, they may jointly review each person’s schedule and who has the most time to devote to the pets. If one spouse works from home, for example, while the other spouse travels routinely for work, the former may provide a better environment for the pets. 

Couples with children may consider having their pets stay with the kids, moving between houses as the children do. 

5 Benefits of choosing divorce mediation

Divorce is notorious for being contentious and expensive, but did you know it doesn’t have to be? Divorce mediation is a process of professionally guided problem-solving oriented towards families and collaboration. In mediation, an impartial mediator will help you and your ex navigate all aspects of your divorce and ensure the process remains productive rather than adversarial. Here are five benefits of choosing mediation for your divorce:

1. It’s less expensive

Families going through a divorce already face enough financial strain when losing their spouse’s contributions and splitting their assets. In most instances, divorce mediation is roughly one-tenth or less of the cost of traditional divorce litigation.

2. It’s family-oriented

Divorce is hard on the entire family, especially children. High conflict divorce and custody battles can increase stress and anxiety in children and negatively affect their well-being for years to come. Rather than pitting you and your ex against each other, mediation allows the two of you to work together to determine what is best for your kids.

3. It takes less time

It may shock you to discover that the average timeframe for litigated divorce is between nine months and two years. Mediation, on the other hand, is a more streamlined process for separation that, on average, takes only two to four months to complete, sparing both you and your ex from a painful, drawn-out process.

4. It gives you control

In a litigated divorce, a judge ultimately determines what the terms of the divorce will be. In mediation, your mediator will guide you through all of your options for each aspect of your divorce, from spousal and child support to child custody and the division of marital assets. The mediator will work with you both to ensure arrangements are mutually beneficial to both parties.

5. It’s completely private

Family disputes are often personal and sensitive. In a litigated divorce, hearings are open to the public and eventually become part of the public record. With divorce mediation, you never have to set foot inside a courtroom. Every part of the mediation process is entirely confidential.

More and more couples today are looking to mediation as a more respectful and amicable way to dissolve their marriage. If you wish to avoid the pain and expense of litigated divorce, divorce mediation may be right for you.