Work up a parenting plan draft in preparation for mediation

Among the benefits of mediation is that it is less stressful than traditional divorce and establishes a path on which you and your family can move forward.

Part of the mediation process will focus on your parenting plan. Putting your thoughts down on paper ahead of time will keep you from forgetting anything when you present your ideas.

A plan for the future

Expect the parenting plan to be a comprehensive agreement with details as to how you and your former spouse will raise your shared children post-divorce. Main points will include living and financial arrangements, plus decision-making responsibilities. The plan will explain the custody schedule and describe how the transition between homes will work. It will address access to school and medical records, the division of holiday and vacation time, how you will handle assigning chores to the children and what your approach to discipline will be. Your parenting plan will also include details as to how you and the other parent will communicate and how you both will communicate with the children. For example, will you and your former spouse phone each other, or do you prefer texting or sending emails?

A few things to avoid

Do not forget to include details about decisions regarding any medical or dental issues that may come up with your children. Remember to work on travel restrictions, such as requiring mutual agreement when one of you plans to leave the state or country on a trip with the children. Also, do not fail to set up times for regular review of the parenting plan, to allow for any changes.

A way forward

Mediation can help you and your soon-to-be-ex create a parenting plan that works for everyone. The needs of your children should be top priority, and the mediator will guide you in achieving that goal. When you prepare well, this phase of the mediation process will go much smoother. As a bonus, working as a team and learning to communicate in a respectful, constructive way sets an example that you can use to the benefit of everyone in the family as you move forward following the divorce.