Especially if you were married 10 or more years, not living with your spouse anymore may take some getting used to. Your children, in particular, may encounter challenges adapting to a new lifestyle where their parents live in separate households. Divorce isn’t easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to ruin your kids’ lives. By agreeing to mediate your divorce instead of litigating in a Texas courtroom, you’re agreeing to try to settle your differences and design a child custody plan built on cooperation.
When your children see that you and your ex are willing to work together as a parenting team, they may be less worried about their future and better able to come to terms with the changes in their lives. Figuring out what exact terms to incorporate into your co-parenting plan can be challenging, however.
Stipulations help clarify terms
You and your ex might agree that you will take turns driving your children to school or sporting events or wherever else they need to go. Adding stipulations to terms like these in your co-parenting agreement helps avoid confusion. For instance, you might wish to include a stipulation stating that if one of you is unable to take his or her turn driving the children, he or she is to notify the other parent before asking another adult to fill in as a substitute driver.
You may also choose to add stipulations regarding new romantic relationships. Is it important to you that you meet someone your ex is dating before he or she introduces the new partner to your kids? You can add this as a stipulation in your child custody agreement.
Will you attend special events together?
As you and your kids move on in life after divorce, there will naturally be many special events in their lives. Such events include annual holidays as well as school concerts or science fairs, sports competitions, or even special dances. Children typically want both parents to share in the milestones of their youth.
When mediating a divorce, one of your main goals is to peacefully negotiate a co-parenting agreement that focuses on your children’s best interests. With this in mind, you might consider agreeing to attend special events together. If you don’t think that would be a good idea, you might agree to alternate with each event. In fact, sometimes, such as for a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might split up the hours in the day so you both get to spend time with your children.
Child care or babysitting
While you and your ex have made an adult decision to part ways, it doesn’t mean either one of you is taking your responsibilities as a parent lightly. When you entrust your children’s care to someone other than the two of you, it is important that you’re in agreement.
As part of your co-parenting plan, you can write terms of instructions for choosing child care or a babysitter for your kids. Perhaps, you agree that one of you may make such decisions. On the other hand, maybe you feel more comfortable agreeing that both parents must meet (or visit) and approve a prospective babysitter or child care facility.
Divorce mediation helps parents work together
The fact that you want a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you think your ex is a bad parent. It also doesn’t mean you must fight over every child-related issue in order to achieve a settlement. Mediation is a peaceful alternative to litigation.
You and your ex can agree to take your time, discuss all important issues concerning your kids, then design your own plan that protects your parental rights while keeping their best interests in mind. Seeking support from someone experienced in the mediation process is always a good idea as well, and that someone doesn’t have to be an attorney.