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Children & Divorce - The Promise of Mediation
"Tell your father if he doesn't send the check, I don't know what I'll do."

"Your mother is just trying to turn you against me."

Such is the sort of dialogue children caught in the middle of a divorce frequently hear from one or both of their parents. Too often, children fall victim in our adversarial divorce system.

This doesn't have to happen.

Furthermore, husbands and wives who have determined, for whatever reason, to separate don't have to become mortal enemies. There is another way.

Mediation provides a confidential, non-adversarial process where divorcing spouses can negotiate their own settlement with the aid of an impartial third party mediator.

This doesn't mean there isn't conflict between divorcing spouses. Of course there is. But in mediation, the couple works together with one mediator to create a fair, equitable settlement.

In the adversarial process, spouses are intentionally pitted against one another, each trying to get the best possible deal for him or herself. In such a tug of war, children inevitably get caught and pay a high emotional price. Further, the couple's assets can be significantly diminished as the process drags on.

Mediation saves time because both spouses are working together at the same time with one professional. It reduces costs thus preserving assets because both spouses share the cost of that single professional.

It allows the couple to retain control of the negotiation process, while the mediator makes negotiations less difficult by creating a safe, confidential environment and serving as a buffer as the couple works through difficult issues.

Mediation protects important relationships, including those between each parent and the children. As difficult as it may seem, parents must continue to be parents together even as they separate. Creating a cooperative process through mediation makes inevitable parenting discussions down the pike easier for both parents. It also enables parents to design structures for dealing with specific topics in the future like college education.

Finally, mediated divorces have a far higher compliance rate than adversarial divorces because the couple takes ownership of the agreement.

If you are considering divorce or if you have other family conflicts (contested wills, teenager/parent disputes, eldercare, prenuptial agreements ) you haven't been able to resolve on your own, try mediation before escalating the dispute in an adversarial process.

Checking it out won't cost you anything and it could save your children countless difficult hours.

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New York does not automatically give custody of children to any one parent. In deciding custody, the court only considers what is in the best interest of the child. It considers who gave primary care during the marriage, scheduled doctors' appointments, and attended school meetings. Generally, the court allows the non-custodial parent ample visitation with the child and even awards joint custody. Visitation is often only limited in circumstances where there is abuse.
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