7 Ways Divorce Mediation Benefits Child Custody Agreements

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted September 24, 2020

Building a good child custody agreement does not happen with boilerplate policy. Every family is different. Every co-parenting team and every child bring their own unique spin to the situation. You can likely build the right custody agreement out of the selection of standard methods and policies, but actually agreeing on terms (and writing them into a legally binding contract) usually requires a little help.

chicago divorce mediation

The traditional method is to hire two lawyers, one each, and go head-to-head in negotiations. But for most divorcing parents, adversarial divorce is clearly not the way to go. If your goal is to build a healthy co-parenting plan into your Chicago divorce mediation agreement, child custody needs to be handled with cooperation, calm, and expertise. 

Divorce mediation provides that kind of calm, cooperative environment needed to build mutual child custody terms. In Chicago divorce mediation, both parents sit down with an experienced family law professional who will help write divorce terms based on the shared needs of all involved parties instead of negotiating from single mindedly self-driven platforms. Let’s take a closer look at how mediation services can benefit your child custody agreement.

1) Both Parent Situations are Explained & Considered 

Child custody should balance the separate households of both co-parents. Sometimes, there are even more than two co-parents if guardians or step-parents are also involved. Each person’s situation, abilities, and limitations must be considered. There are many agreements that sound mathematically fair on paper but do not evenly share the burdens in practice.

In traditional divorce, each party has a lawyer who argues for their side, and the “winner” gets there self-focused terms in the contract. With Chicago divorce mediation, both parents can fully explain, prove, and explore their situation.  This way, policies can be built that work for everyone in practice, not just on paper.

If one parent doesn’t drive, or one has a unique work schedule, or both have special limitations, these factors can be built into a mutually balanced custody agreement.

2) Build a Complete Picture of Each Child’s Experience

The unified view of divorce is also helpful when crafting the future life of your child(ren). Children’s lives are shaped by the terms of your custody agreement. Every exchange is a car-ride and a home transition for them. Every even is measured by which parent and house they’ll be with and which friends they will be near.

With Chicago divorce mediation, a child’s full journey can be thought about and hand-crafted to the family’s needs. Including the needs and preferences of the children. Would your children benefit from more frequent exchanges, or longer stable periods? Are some agreements more helpful to their after school and weekend plans? A mediator will help you consider the child custody agreement from the child’s perspective as well.

3) Solutions Consider Every Party’s Needs

Negotiations in traditional divorce may be solution-based, but each solution proposed has only one party in mind – as a policy. Compromises move the bar along a scale of favorability to one parent or the other. This actually prevents the introduction of good compromise policies that bridge the gap creatively. Chicago divorce mediation doesn’t approach solutions like a struggle.

A divorce mediator’s job is to find legal solutions to the co-parenting big picture. Instead of insisting that one parent or the other get primary custody, a custody agreement can be drawn up that provides the most valuable quality parenting time based on the schedules of both parents and the children.

Both first-draft solutions and the final custody terms will be built with everyone’s benefit in mind, not one party at a time.

4) Negotiations are Streamlined, not Adversarial

Many co-parents get the false impression that mediation is only for couples who already agree. This is not true. Nor is mediation only for couples who can’t agree. If you disagree on key issues, you don’t have to get separate lawyers. Chicago divorce mediation is also designed to help separating couples who need help finding middle-ground. The difference is that negotiations are streamlined toward compromise instead of an adversarial debate with give-and-take.

In a Chicago divorce mediation, disagreements are laid out like a puzzle. One spouse wants flexible weekends, the other wants a rigid and predictable schedule. In adversarial negotiation, there is only one or the other. A mediator, however, might suggest that the spouse who needs flexibility also take responsibility for weekend babysitting should work call, and yield to plans made by the more schedule-locked parent.

Instead of fighting over who wins and loses, mediation streamlines the process toward a workable solution.

5) No Surprises or Legal Overreactions

Sometimes, divorces are peppered with surprise motions, vindictive negotiation points, and legal reactions to real-world divorce-related events. Child custody is often the focus of these fast-paced and high-emotion divorce proceedings. With Chicago divorce mediation, there is a buffer between reactions and repercussions. A divorce mediator will almost always advise against rash or punitive policies, and will remind all parties if their proposed terms are clearly imbalanced.

If there is a true emergency relating to child safety, parent ability, or other custody conditions, a mediator will help co-parents act quickly without lasting negative effects from rash policy-making.

6) A Place at the Table for Your Child

A divorce mediator is also more approachable than a court or adversarial lawyer-led divorce. Children and teens old enough to have preferences can be heard at the mediation table. Most co-parents want to build a custody agreement that their children will enjoy being a part of, but few have the opportunity to truly ask their children what agreement terms they would prefer.

Chicago divorce mediation creates a safe place for kids to share important facts like which parent lives near their no. 1 best friend and how they’d like to spend the next few summers. This step can spell the difference between smoldering resentment vs a collaborative post-divorce family.

7) Approachable Custody Update Process

Finally, a divorce mediator is the most approachable way to update your child custody agreement. As children grow up, their needs and their schedules change drastically. Daycare becomes music lessons and eventually band practice. Priorities and preferences change as children become teenagers. Likewise,  parent lives also change. You or your co-spouse may experience a serious change in career or work schedule. Incomes can rise or fall. New spouses and growing step-families will change future lifestyles.

It’s important for both co-parents to be able to revisit the divorce custody terms when these changes occur. A Chicago divorce mediation can help you make those adaptations in a friendly and cooperative way.

Divorce Mediation Builds Stronger Child Custody Agreements

If your top priority in divorce is making sure your kids grow up happy, a mediator is there to help. Together, we can consider all sides of the situation and build a custody agreement that works for everyone in the years to come. Contact Split Simple today to discuss your divorce and child custody mediation

Split Simple

Two Prudential Plaza

180 North Stetson Avenue #3500

Chicago, IL 60601