If you have children and you are going through a Separation or a Divorce, making decisions about your parenting arrangements with your co-parent can be a challenge.
There's so much to consider. Not only that, but all the forms that must be filled out can be overwhelming.
Typically, CoParents start wading through this process by addressing The Who, What, When and Where of their parenting arrangements. AND...if you take a look at the Parenting Plan forms you find on the State Judicial Website, you discover that the Form asks you just that, with headings such as Decision Making and then the form gives you boxes you can check-off.
What is interesting about these forms, is that the forms can lead people into thinking the approach to use is to look at the form, follow the form, and fill it in as you go along. Where this might work in filling out a Financial Affidavit, with a Parenting Plan, CoParents may actually be starting at the end of the sequence if they use this approach.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Judicial Department, who are just trying to be helpful, the Parenting Plan form (JDF 1113) can inadvertently lead coparents into overlooking important factual information when they are creating their parenting arrangements. This is due to the way the Form is arranged, giving coparents the ability to check boxes under the different issues or categories that affect parenting arrangements.
In a way, this can be like going through a drive-up-window at a new coffee shop. You drive up to the order window and, since you have never been to this shop before, you look at the displayed menu and select your beverage from there. Sometimes, you may feel rushed if there is a long line of cars behind you. Or maybe you might feel that asking the server on the other end of the speaker a lot of questions will stress out the server. So, it can be just easier, quicker, and less stressful to pick something that looks as thought it will work from the huge sign. This can be what happens when you use the JDF 1114 Parenting Plan form.
If, however, you decide to park outside of the new coffee shop and walk inside and sit at a table, when the server approaches you with the menu, you actually have the opportunity to get more information about the items on the menu from the server. The server might tell you there is a "special," or you might have noticed a particularly delicious drink the person at the other table has and you get to ask your server about that drink. This scenario, unlike the drive-through experience above, gives you more facts and information, (what kinds of specials, or what other drinks you observed), that you can use to make your final decision.
Giving Parents more Facts and Information is what Child Smart Mediation is all about. This information helps parents make decisions about their parenting plan.
In a Child Smart Mediation, parents visit with a Child Consultant and discuss their thoughts about the effect a separation or divorce might be having on their children. The Child Consultant, then visits with the children. After the Child Consultant has met the family, the Child Consultant joins the coparents, and their attorneys if they have attorneys, at the Mediation session with the Mediator to discuss with the coparents how the children are managing with the stresses involved. This process gives parents facts and information from a Child Consultant, who is a licensed professional and expert in child development. CoParents can now take into consideration the stresses of the children as they create their parenting plan.
And, since there is a Mediator involved, that Mediator can help CoParents add unique and specific details to their Parenting Plan which may not be included in the JDF 1113 Form.
In the three years that I have been doing Child Smart Mediations, I have seen CoParents take the information from the Child Consultant and develop absolutely outstanding parenting arrangements which meet the needs of their children perfectly. CoParents find unity through this process and commit to preserving the mental and emotional health and wellbeing of their children.
If you have questions about the process of a Child Smart Mediation as compared to Mediation As Usual, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-439-5104 to register for a free orientation session.