Should I Choose Divorce Mediation for My Children’s Sake?
There are many good reasons to mediate a divorce, not the least of which is how mediation can benefit your children. When a divorce goes to trial, conflicts escalate. There’s additional pressure on the parties, and that pressure trickles down to their children. Additionally, when the issue of child custody goes to court, a judge must decide the issue based on the best interests of the child(ren). This requires the judge to get additional information from a variety of sources, some of which can put added psychological pressure on your child:
- Child psychologist or social worker’s report — Often a judge will ask a child psychologist or social worker to write a report. This can require a home visit and interviews with the children. In highly contested actions, parents may each hire their own psychologist to talk to the children and prepare a report.
- Witnesses — Parents can call as witnesses a variety of people who know their children well. This is usually limited to grandparents and other close relatives.
- Lawyer for the child — In some cases, the court can appoint a lawyer to represent the child. The child must meet with this lawyer and talk about his or her preferences for custody.
- Guardian ad litem — A GAL is a court-appointed officer who investigates the case and reports back to the judge. GAL investigation can include an interview with the children.
- Child’s meeting with the judge — The judge may meet with the child in chambers to discuss the case about issues affecting him or her. This means prepping your son or daughter for a visit to court and the sit-down with the judge.
Children already have a tendency to blame themselves for the breakup of their parents’ marriage. Making them a part of the proceedings can intensify this feeling.
Fortunately, parents can reach a resolution through mediation without any of the above steps being necessary. No one knows your family better than you do, so you don’t have to do additional fact-finding. If you do think it would be beneficial to have a child psychologist speak to your child, you and your spouse can share the cost.
Mediation also benefits your child by:
- Keeping your stress level low — Your children notice when you’re struggling emotionally. Mediation relieves much of the pressure so you can remain strong for yourself and for them.
- Moving quickly — You’re not tied to the court calendar, so you can move at your own pace, completing the process in a timely manner.
- Giving you more control over the outcome — Judges are conscientious about making sound decisions where children are concerned. But no matter how thorough they are, judges cannot learn everything there is to know about a family before rendering a decision. So, you can get hit with an adverse judgment. Since mediated solutions are based on voluntary agreement, you never have to accept an adverse outcome.
- Helping you repair communication and trust — Mediation is a cooperative exercise that helps many parents overcome the hard feelings associated with divorce and set a positive tone for co-parenting their children after the divorce is final.
All of these factors make mediation a choice worth considering for your children’s sake.