Mediation is a process in which parents work together with a professional mediator to develop a mutually acceptable parenting plan.
The parenting plan can be quite structured, specifying the day-to-day arrangements for the children, as well as plans for the school holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. You and your child’s other parent decide what to include.
Parental conflict over arrangements can have a damaging effect on children. By working together in a safe and managed way with a mediator, parents can avoid these battles and come to agreement that suits the children’s needs.
How to prepare for the mediation process
- Approach mediation with an open mind and be willing to listen. Parents who are open and listen to their ex-partner are more able to reach a settlement.
- Do your homework before mediation and come prepared with several options. Write down a few ideas and proposals so you can refer to them in the mediation session.
- What children need is often different from what parents need. Make sure you understand your children's needs, so you can stay focused on them and not on each other.
- Family mediation is not the place to focus on the other parent. The process is likely to break down if you and your ex-partner get into an argument about who said what. This is not a place to rehash old conflicts but rather to solve parenting problems after divorce or separation.
- Be open to different ideas, and willing to compromise so you can reach a peaceful solution on behalf of your children.
Things that might help you while you are mediating
- Focusing on your children's needs rather than your own.
- Acknowledging that children have different needs depending their age, temperament, and development.
- Acknowledging the other parent's strengths.
- Accepting that children need time with both parents.
What to take with you to the mediation meeting
- A proposal for residence and a time-sharing plan.
- A calendar of school holidays, work schedules, and a schedule for your child's activities.
- A flexible attitude.
- A positive attitude that you will be able to sort things out between yourselves.
If you want some help creating a parenting plan, try our free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First. You can do it all online, including reviewing each other's suggestions so you don't even need to meet up with your ex-partner when you want to make changes.
If you'd like further insight into how mediation might work for you, this video from Creating Paths to Family Justice offers helpful information on how different types of mediation can work: