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Child Custody Mediation and Parenting Plans

Tuesday, January, 10, 2012

Child custody mediation is one of the more touchy aspects of a divorce. Perhaps more than anything else, including alimony, child custody and support are highly emotionally charged and viciously fought. When entering a mediation, each party having a proposed parenting plan can cut through a lot of the difficulty in the proceedings.


What Parenting Plans Are and How They Help

A parenting plan is an individual side's proposed child custody and support arrangement. It covers what the divorcing spouse wants and what they are willing to allow the other divorcing spouse to have in terms of custody, relative authority in child-rearing decisions, visitation, and monetary support. This document can be drawn individually or with the assistance of their mediation attorney or template software.


Of course, it is to be expected that there is going to be some difference of opinion between parenting plans. Some differences can be minor and easily worked out. Others can be fundamental and require more intense mediation. Ultimately, how parenting plans are useful is that they provide a starting point for the mediation and cut through the process of defining where each side stands in the mediation. From this standpoint, it is much easier to reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement.


It is also entirely possible for more amicable divorces to draw up a parenting plan together and present it to the mediator as an already agreed upon arrangement.


What Custody Arrangements Should Be in a Parenting Plan

Assuming there are no legal grounds to deny one parent's rights to visitation or custody, the custody arrangements begin with planning out over the course of a year which parent has custody when. Work schedules, major holidays, the child's school schedule (particularly summer breaks) are all typical considerations. Meeting places and times for the custody exchanges may be addressed as well.


Both parents have financial obligations to the child. Typically, the parent with primary custody will receive payments from the secondary parent. In cases where equal or joint custody are agreed upon, child support may be waived. There may also be provisions on insurance and who pays for expenses such as dental and medical care.


Many more subjects can be covered in a parenting plan preceding a child custody mediation. Consultation with your attorney can ensure that your parenting plan is thorough, and the more thorough your wishes are, the more likely you will achieve a desired outcome.