Mediate Your Divorce – Part 1

Mediate Your Divorce – Part 1

Should I consider divorce mediation?

Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult life events one can endure. A divorce of any kind is hard. When issues such as spousal support, child custody and support, and division of property are to be determined, tensions and stress levels run high. If a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement on these issues, typically they hire their attorneys and slug it out in court.

A litigated divorce is already emotionally, physically, and financially draining. The thought of you or your children having to appear before a judge only increases the stress level for your family. A litigated divorce can be messy, and sadly, it can take a nasty toll on you, your soon-to-be ex, and your children.

There is a better way. It’s called divorce mediation.

What is a divorce mediation?

In simple terms, divorce mediation is when a disinterested third party (mediator) attempts to help a divorcing couple come to an agreement about contested issues without getting the courts involved.

Why consider divorce mediation?

While there are numerous reasons to choose a mediated divorce over a litigated one, we will look at only three.

It bridges the communication gap. Most couples facing divorce have at least one thing in common: somewhere along the way in their marriage, a breakdown in communication took place. When this is the case (and it usually is), an experienced mediator can guide the divorcing couple in opening up communication again. Both parties in a divorce want to feel that their side is being stated and heard; a mediator can help the parties move toward this. Mediation helps you and your spouse work through your issues to come to a mutual agreement that will help you move forward in the divorce.

It’s more child-focused. One of the biggest concerns of a parent going through a divorce is the effect it will have on their children. In a litigated divorce, not only can things get messy and contentious fast, but your children can also be dragged into the mix. When parents can’t agree on custody issues, this is taken to the court for the judge to decide. This could involve your children being interviewed and observed by experts; it could even require that your children appear in court. In a mediated divorce, the mediator will help both parents to stay focused on the children’s needs and help you come to a custody agreement in a setting that is less stressful, cooperative, and more thoughtful.

It’s more personal. A mediator can help you and your spouse create an agreement that meets the needs of your family. In her article that appeared on the American Bar Association’s website, attorney Holly J. Clemente says that “unlike judges, mediators often create unique agreements that deviate from the norm because the agreements are tailor-made by the couple to fit their circumstances and desires. The mediator…can, and in fact is expected to, meet individually with each side. Hearing what each side truly wants out of the process makes the mediator’s job that much simpler, and everyone benefits.”

Often, attorneys may take an adversarial role to negotiate the “best” deal for their clients. In contrast, a mediator’s end goal is to help both parties come to a suitable solution with the family’s best interest in mind.

If you’d like to know more about how mediation could benefit your divorce, contact Christine M. Howard Law for more information. We can help you to determine if divorce mediation is the right course for you.


Hi-Tech Help for Co-parenting

Hi-Tech Help for Co-parenting

There’s a lot of talk these days about how technology is eliminating our face to face interaction with other people. This makes it more difficult to develop the positive relationships in our lives, but when it comes to dealing with an ex-spouse, less face-to-face communication is often a good thing, especially when the relationship with your ex is fragile or contentious.

When you have children with your ex, communication is crucial to co-parenting success. Thankfully, there are many online tools that can help you effectively communicate with your co-parent – without all the negative side effects of face-to-face interaction.

Online Resources to the Rescue

Perhaps the most popular online co-parenting resource is the award-winning Our Family Wizard. Our Family Wizard (OFW) provides resources that are helpful to anyone trying to co-parent successfully, but it is touted as being helpful for those in difficult shared custody or joint custody co-parenting relationships. According to the Our Family Wizard website, “judges in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 6 Canadian provinces have ordered families to utilize the site in contested cases to reduce family conflict.”

Some of OFW’s features include a shared parenting calendar; a message board that allows you to securely send and receive messages to your co-parent or family law professional and protect messages from being edited or lost; an info bank that stores your family’s important information (such as emergency contact info, school schedules, and medical info) in one place; and an expense log to track medical expenses, child support, etc. The cost:  $99 per year (per parent); accounts for children, family attorneys, and mental healthcare professionals are free. Smartphone apps are available as well.

Coparently offers similar co-parenting tools and is similarly helpful for those in difficult co-parenting situations. In addition to offering online communication between co-parents, Coparently also allows communication to your attorney as well, giving her a record of all the communications that have taken place between you and your co-parent.

Coparently also costs $99 per year per parent, but it also offers the option of paying monthly at $9.99 per month. Accounts for children and family professionals are free. In addition, there is a 30-day free trial option.

If you’re primarily interested in a secure, online communication tool, then Talking Parents might be right for you. Talking Parents is especially useful for the parent who deals with high-conflict situations with his or her co-parent, especially, the website states, “those involving domestic violence or vitriolic communication.” This tool doesn’t require that you give your telephone number or email address to your ex, which is helpful when harassment is present in your co-parenting situation. What’s more, this tool keeps secure, accurate, and tamper-proof records of all communication between you and your co-parent – an invaluable tool should you need to provide the courts proof of correspondence with your ex.

Talking Parents is free, but it charges $3.99 per downloaded file, or $4.99 per month for unlimited access. It also offers a highly-rated, free app.

These days, you can find an online resource or app that helps you do just about anything, including co-parenting. Although this may sound obvious, a tool is useful only if it is being used. So, before you settle on a co-parenting online tool or app, try it out and see if it works for you. And remember that it needs to work for your co-parent as well.