If Children are Involved
During divorce mediation discussions concerning minor children, the focus should be on what will be in their best interests. It is a legal requirement in California that the parenting plan and amount of child support be in the best interests of the children.
Sometimes lack of knowledge about child development or a heated conflict can cloud a parent’s judgment with respect to what is best for the kids. While the mediator must remain impartial with respect to the spouses, the mediator does bear some responsibility for ensuring that parenting plan and child support decisions are in the best interests of the children. For older children it may be appropriate to ascertain their wishes and take these into account as part of the mediation process.
It is not uncommon for parents going through a divorce to confuse their own wishes and expectations with their children’s needs as if they were the same. It’s very important to separate what you want from what will be best for your children and to focus on the latter.
It is of course highly desirable after the divorce for parents to be able to work together well in co-parenting their kids. Circumstances will inevitably change as the children grow up. It therefore is often desirable to discuss and build into the agreement principles and mechanisms for addressing the types of changes that can be expected to occur over time.
Sometimes in high conflict cases it is important and worthwhile to build into the agreement specific methods of communication designed to minimize conflict.