Mediation attorneys can play an important role in divorce. Instead of heading straight for the courts and litigation, mediation enables couples to work through their problems and to resolve them by coming to mutual agreement out of court, with the help of a trained third party.
The role of mediation attorneys is very specific and limited to helping the two parties communicate and work through the problems that have made the marriage irreconcilable. They don’t only stick to the facts that would be relevant in a court case, they also allow couples to work through everything, helping them maintain positivity. They cannot force the couple to come to an agreement; it must a voluntary process.
One mediator works with both parties, and is not in a position to offer any form of legal or financial guidance. Furthermore, meetings with mediation attorneys are strictly confidential, and a court of law cannot subpoena mediation attorneys to testify about discussions with clients.
There are, of course, many issues that must be resolved before a divorce agreement can be formulated and signed, and then taken to court to make it legal. It becomes even more complex and emotive when there is a child or children involved, and agreement of what will happen to children after divorce is a challenging issue that should have their interests foremost.
Custody is the first issue that will need to be considered, along with visitation rights for the parent that doesn’t get (or doesn’t want) legal or physical custody. While these are the terms commonly used in law, there is a growing tendency to work according to parenting plans that describe in more simple language (rather than legalese) who the child normally lives with, what time the other parent spends with the child (for example weekends and/or school holidays), and so on. The agreement might also specify responsibilities of the two parents, particularly if they agree that co-parenting is the best route to take.
Custody and Visitation Rights
Legal custodians make all the major decisions for children, from schooling and religious affiliation, to health issues, ensuring they get the best medical and dental care. Sometimes one parent has sole legal custody, sometimes both parents share legal custody.
When it comes physical custody, this may also be shared, with both parents agreeing to a mutually acceptable time schedule. This should be in the best interests of the child or children rather than to satisfy the needs of the parents.
When one parent is awarded sole custody, it is essential that the other parent has visitation rights that enable them to have continued contact with the non-custodial parent. Mediation attorneys will help the couple decide what’s fair.
Focusing on parenting plans rather than custody and visitation rights is a more collaborative approach that mediation attorneys generally prefer to follow. So, for example, they will talk about one parent having the right to visit the child at weekends, within certain timelines, rather than having visitation at weekends.
Generally a parenting plan will show how the two parents will cooperate together, and detail any specific roles one or other have agree to fulfill. When they agree to co-parent, there needs to be, not only cooperation, but compromise, constant communication, and consistency. Since these are the kinds of values that are often abandoned when a marital relationship fails, it can be a challenge for mediation attorneys, but it can work.
For co-parenting to succeed, it is essential for the divorcing parents to put the needs of their children (or child) first. Mediation attorneys will help put a structured co-parenting agreement in writing, so both parents can start to build mutual trust. All love may well be lost between the parents, but if co-parenting is what they opt for, it is vital that they maintain a civil, courteous relationship, particularly when the children are present.
Waggoner Hastings Family & Collaborative Law is a Georgia-based legal firm that specializes in divorce and other forms of mediation. Both partners are trained mediators. So if you are looking for mediation attorneys you can rely on, contact us to schedule a consultation.