A friend of ours recently pointed out an interesting article by Silvana D. Raso titled Using Mediation to Keep Your Cool During Divorce and Beyond. In the article, Ms. Raso makes the very good point that post-divorce parenting is often prone to disputes after their divorce is over, and that working with a mediator to find middle ground can be a much better solution that going back to court when those disputes arise.
This is the reason that parenting plans in this state generally set forth some type of dispute resolution process that is required before resort to court. Too often, this is seen as just a hurdle to get past before a motion can be filed. The problem with court resolutions to these kinds of disputes is that it tends to be all or nothing – one side wins and the other side loses. That does not make for good co-parenting relationships.
When parents are able to find middle ground through mediation, solutions they can both agree on, then the solutions are more durable (less likely either parent will try to undermine it), the parents are more satisfied with the results, and a foundation has been laid for further cooperation rather than conflict in the future. Of course when parents can reach agreements, they are also modeling good behaviors for their children as well. ( I mean, how many of us really want to model fighting as a dispute resolution process for our children?)
As Ms. Raso illustrates in her article, and we have experienced in our office, even couples that are able to get through their divorces amicably may run into disputes over parenting down the road, and those disputes can be destructive to continued co-parenting. Best to get the disputes into mediation early on, rather than wait until the whole relationship has been poisoned by the conflict.