How do we create a fair co-parenting plan? This is a question I am asked every day. While It is not possible in a short blog to go into the specific details of how this works, I am able to provide an overview. In mediation, to create a fair co-parenting plan we begin first by making a couple of assumptions and taking certain perspectives. Firstly we take the position that children are not objects to be divided as you would a financial asset. Secondly we do not accept that “the children” are a single unit with a single set of needs. If you have a 9, 11 and 13 year old, each of these distinctly different human beings will have their own desires, and will need as much as is possible and practicable to be treated as individuals. At New Landscape Mediation, once we are assured that the parents we are working with are accepting of these assumptions, we can then begin to look a bit more deeply at the specifics of the situation at hand.
Since 2003 all biological parents have the same rights and obligations under the law. The term that applies here is “Parental Responsibility”. In return, children have certain rights of contact and relationship with their parents and in mediation the work we do is based around finding a sensible solution to these – sometimes at odds – personal rights and needs.
Most importantly, wherever possible we place the needs and desires of your children at the forefront of any planning that you do. Where appropriate, we ask children directly what it is that they want from you, their parents following your divorce as part of a mediation in what is known as a Direct Child Consultation. We do this because sometimes when we first speak with one or other parent, we hear that a particular child doesn’t wish to spend time alone with the other parent. We seek to find out if this is actually true, or if it that statement is motivated by something else, like a child not wanting to get caught up in the battle between mum and dad. The Direct Child Consultation will help discover the facts about where a child wishes to spend their time, and how would they like to see mum and dad communicated with each other going forward?
Once we know what your children want/need from you both, we can then begin to look at your needs and desires as parents. In mediation you will both be given a list of possible parenting topics that you may wish to cover in your final parenting plan. This list can be downloaded as a PDF file here.
In mediation, your mediator will go through all of the topics from this list that are relevant to you and your needs. We go through this list, one item at a time, always keeping the desires of your children at the centre. In this way, we are able to create a plan that will hold you all in good stead once the dust of your divorce settles and beyond, into the future.
If you would like more information about how to create a fair co-parenting plan in mediation, call our offices on 01279 211 657 for a fully confidential, no obligation discussion of your needs.