As a mediator, I am always reviewing information to keep myself up to date on various uses of mediation. I was sent this article by a trusted legal advisor of mine, Lauri J. Stock, a partner in the law firm of Soloman Ward. She specializes in family law and has been a tremendous resource to me in my mediation practice. The same day I got this article, I had read an editorial in the New York times on the increasing rate of divorce and its effect on children in this country. I know many women (and men) entrepreneurs who juggle their business needs with their family needs so I thought I would pass this along:

In divorce, one of the toughest realities parents must face is the division of time with their children. Shuttling children back and forth between two households becomes the new reality. While this process is never easy for parents, many families are making it work and can establish a workable parenting schedule with no court intervention. There are, however, parents who need court assistance to help establish an acceptable parenting plan.

In San Diego, if parents cannot agree on a parenting plan and seek court intervention, the court will set a mediation date at Family Court Services, where parents meet with a professionally trained counselor who recommends a parenting plan for families. The court will consider the recommendations of a Family Court Services mediator when making child custody and visitation orders.

What can parents do to prepare for Family Court Services mediation?

1. Outline Concerns & Desires:
Parents should prepare a list of their top concerns and a proposal for a child custody and visitation schedule. Being prepared for mediation will help individuals stay on track, especially when nerves and emotions are running high.

2. Meet With A Professional Counselor Before Mediation:
Meeting with a trained professional counselor to prepare individuals for mediation is valuable and should be considered. The trained counselor can provide helpful tools for presenting an individual’s position, getting important points across to the mediator, and countering any personal attacks by an ex-spouse during mediation.

3. Consider A Discussion With Ex-Spouse Prior To Mediation:
If communication lines are open between spouses, it may be worthwhile to contact the other spouse prior to mediation to discuss potential agreements and outstanding issues. If both parties agree on certain issues prior to mediation, the mediation process may become less daunting and more productive and efficient.

While divorce or any kind of separation is never easy in any type of relationship. There are ways to assist us in the process to ease the emotional toll, and sometimes lifelong effects that divorce can have on both the adults and the children involved.

About Your Columnist

Michelle Burkart is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers negotiation and conflict resolution. Currently, Michelle is the owner of TH!NKresolution, where she is a credentialed mediator; Hearing Officer for the San Diego Housing Commission; Member of the San Diego Superior Court Mediation panel as well as the NCRC Commercial Mediation Panel. Michelle manages and conducts business mediation services for TH!NKresolution to include pre-contract facilitation, contract disputes, personnel issues, conflict coaching and training, family business disputes, government agency disputes, and caregiver mediation.

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