Almost any kind of divorce case can benefit from mediation. This is possible because mediation involves a neutral third party to listen to separating couples and help them arrive at mutually-agreeable solutions to their issues.
Apart from offering economic benefits, mediation is emotionally advantageous. This aspect of mediation is particularly helpful when the separating couple has children as the element of parental hostility is greatly lowered.
According to findings, “In addition to dispute settlement, mediation potentially benefits children by lowering conflict, improving parenting, and encouraging both parents to remain an active presence in their children’s lives.”
In a randomized trial that entailed a 12‐year follow‐up, it was found that mediation produced all the above-mentioned outcomes relative to litigation. Another randomized study revealed that carefully involving children in the mediation process improved its success.
Considering the Impact of Divorce on Children
It is crucial to put the wellbeing of your children above everything else during the divorce process. It’s no secret that divorce has a considerable impact on children due to the stress and disruption in their lives. Parents can help minimize these effects by trying to understand the impact of divorce and what they can do about it. By doing so, they are proactively putting their children before everything else.
During a divorce, children need all the emotional support and reassurance they can get from their parents to be able to process their emotions and channel them in a healthy manner. That’s all they want from parents.
As a parent, your role is to put your children first. Regardless of whose choice it was to divorce or whose fault it was, it was not something your children asked for or were prepared for. They will have to live with your decision, which is why it is critical to upholding their best interests during this time.
How Divorce Mediation Can Help
As experienced St. Louis divorce mediation attorneys, we have seen that couples who go for mediation feel more satisfied with the outcomes as well as the process, unlike with traditional divorce where aggressive custody battles can be damaging to children. Divorce mediation is child-centered and more peaceful. As a parent, you will feel more in control of the process so as to ensure your children get through it safely.
As the mediation process is built on respect and co-operation between spouses, issues related to child custody and visitation are negotiated and agreed upon in a peaceful manner. Both spouses find a way to agree upon custody, child support, tax deductions, and other matters related to their children.
One of the best things about mediation is that it does not work by dividing time so that one parent loses out. Rather, it helps work out a parenting plan that enables both parents to be actively involved in their child’s life in the healthiest manner possible.
A mediator helps parents keep the best interests of their children in mind and make decisions that prioritize their needs while suiting all the parties involved. This protects your children from a lot of emotional harm that often occurs during a traditional divorce.
Because children do not have to appear or testify in court on either parent’s behalf, they are less affected by the situation. Mediation also shields children from damaging exposure to hostility, conflict, and the messy details of their parent’s divorce. Your children can stay happy and well-balanced despite the change in their lives.
The Important Role Parents Play during Divorce Mediation
Parents have a crucial role to play in minimizing the effect of their divorce in their children’s lives. Here are a few steps to take when going through the divorce mediation process.
a. Encourage Honest Communication
Regardless of the stage of divorce mediation you are in, it is crucial that you communicate the goings-on with your children as openly and honestly as possible. This will give them a chance to express their concerns and insecurities while seeking comfort and reassurance from you.
It would be best if the initial communication about the divorce comes from both parents together. Children can be extremely perceptive and can tell when parents are lying or hiding something. It is important that your children know you are not leaving them behind or keeping them in the dark about anything.
b. Manage Your Own Conflict
Parents need to take every possible measure to minimize any conflict between each other. As experienced St. Louis divorce mediation attorneys, we’ve handled enough cases to understand that conflict between parents before, during, and after the divorce can greatly affect children psychologically.
Examine the current level of hostility between you and your spouse, and figure out ways to lower it together. You can either try self-help techniques or seek help from a counselor.
Remember, it is only when parents are physically and emotionally stable that they can take care of their children’s physical and emotional needs.
c. Provide Support
Divorce disrupts not just the parents’ lives, but also the lives of their children. While grown-ups may be strong enough to deal with the situation, children need a lot of help in coming to terms with their parents’ separation.
Since we are divorce mediators, we encourage parents to assure their children that their home is a safe space for them to process and work through their feelings. Provide them with whatever support they may need to enable them to move on from the divorce in a healthy manner. Teach them to manage their emotions as this knowledge will help them now and in working through other tumultuous situations they may face in the future.
By doing this, you will help your children develop self-sustaining qualities such as hope, trust, and self-confidence, which will stay with them throughout their life.
The Don’ts of Divorce Mediation for Parents with Children
Apart from knowing about what to do to help your children cope better with your divorce, it helps to know about what to avoid. We have some useful tips.
- Ignore the conflict between you and your spouse. Conflict may give rise to anger and aggression. By hurting your spouse, you will only hurt your children.
- Discuss the nasty details of your divorce in front of your children.
- Belittle your spouse in front of the children. Anything that weakens their bond will devastate them.
- Use your children as messengers, pawns, or weapons. This will only hurt them further.
- Neglect the emotional needs of your children. Assure them that the divorce was not their fault. Tell them that their life will change in some ways. If possible, explain how.
- Ignore your children’s insecurities and fears. Encourage them to talk about how they feel even if it makes you uncomfortable. Help them express themselves in appropriate ways instead of telling them not to be sad, angry, or afraid.
Divorce mediation creates an environment that is much less stressful in getting the outcomes you want for yourself, and most importantly, your children. Ugly divorce battles and child-custody arguments can have a negative impact on children, leading to several side effects such as poor performance in school, misbehavior at home, and more. Through divorce mediation, parents can provide their children with a low-stress way of undergoing and coping with a major life change. In most cases, it can prove to be the best way to move on in life for the family as a whole.