The decision to end your marriage can be a difficult one to make, even if you and your spouse agree that the time has come. It can be even more challenging if you have children. Virginia courts will always prioritize the best interests of the children, but their hands are often tied, so to speak, in how they will accomplish that goal.
Divorce and family law mediation allows you and your spouse to be more creative in how you approach your parenting plans, and to customize those plans in ways that will benefit your children and you. Together, you can decide:
- Who your child’s primary care physician will be, and where you will bring him or her in the event of a medical emergency.
- Which extracurricular activities your child can participate in, who will pay for which aspects, and how you will divide your time at school and after-school sponsored events.
- When your child will spend the day and/or night at each parent’s house, and how vacations and holidays will be divided between you.
All of these decisions are typically made by a judge in traditional litigation settings. When you work with divorce mediators, you and your spouse retain control of those decisions, and can be more creative in how you achieve your goals.
Additional advantages that mediation can provide
The creation of a parenting plan that works for your children and for both spouses is key, but mediation can have some other advantages, too.
First, your child will see that Mom and Dad can work together towards a common goal. Many children believe that they need to choose sides when their parents get divorced. If they see you cooperating with each other, and working through your differences to reach a solution, they will learn that they, too, can work through their problems with others – and that they don’t need to “protect” one parent from the other.
Second, divorce mediation is often less time-consuming than traditional litigation. Your children will not be subject to a lengthy custody battle, which can eliminate a lot of stress and tension.
Finally, your child will see that he or she is still a priority to both parents, and that even though you are getting divorced from one another, you still love your child very much. Sometimes, children can feel neglected, unloved or even like a “nuisance” to their parents when a couple cannot reach an agreement about custody and access. By focusing your energy on what is best for your child, and finding a solution that allows both of you to be active participants in your child’s life, you are reinforcing how important your child is to both of you at a time when he or she may feel angry, scared or vulnerable.
At Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd., we help facilitate open, honest discussions for couples throughout Northern Virginia. We can assist you in creating a parenting plan that is good your child and you, based on practical guidance and real-world needs. To make an appointment with one of our divorce mediators, please call 703-665-7592 or fill out our contact form.