Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire

Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire
Bend Don't Break- Mediate!

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Shock of Divorce and Making Child Custody Decisions in Mediation

During separation and divorce, child custody and visitation negotiations are very, very painful. Except in exceptional circumstances, separation and divorce require that the parties share custodial time the Children, including for vacations and holidays.  Don't underestimate the shock that comes from the reality that a parent will not get to parent the Children all 365 days each year.  The reality that a parent may not see their Children every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or even on their birthdays can cause rage and despair.  The idea that the Children may take vacations without a parent is likely a foreign concept.  Until now.

A person is vulnerable to clouded decision-making during such trauma. It is challenging to make decisions that meet the Children's best interests when the decision-makers are in the middle of an emotional and sometimes a financial emergency.   The process of child custody, child support, and/or divorce mediation is intended to de-escalate the fury and sadness, in stark contrast to adversarial attorney-led negotiations,    More importantly, the calmer, non-adversarial environment of family law mediation, may help people think more clearly resulting in sound choices for the Children.  Those choices and results will have an impact on the parents and the Children for the rest of their lives. Making important decisions when a person is traumatized is hard. Making important decisions when a person is traumatized while being subjected to the other party's adversarial attorney required zealous advocacy makes it harder.

With parents at their most vulnerable, most states, including Maryland, have figured out that in most cases, handling child custody decisions with the help of a mediator is more likely to produce a thoughtful and logical schedule. The courts often require mediation for child custody disputes. When parties negotiate face to face, they get a better "feel" for when to compromise and when to hold firm.  The parties know each other.  Adversarial attorneys often say things or write things that parties would never dare say or write to each other. Especially when it comes to negotiating a Marital Settlement Agreement custody provision, mediation is a far more appropriate forum to create a plan that both parties can live with and which reflects the best interests of the Children.  People who are in shock or at their must vulnerable will not think more clearly under the attack of the adversarial attorney. If you are looking for reason, look to mediation to make child custody decisions during the shock of separation and divorce.

Still not sure? Since the Maryland court system often requires the parties attempt a custody settlement in mediation, you are not wasting your time and you're not taking a risk; Mediation is non-binding until the parties' agreements are turned into a signed written agreement.  There is no excuse not to try to achieve peace or at least a truce through mediation.  You owe it to yourself to not take a bad time and make it worse.  Bend, don't break.  Mediate.

Mediation with Nancy S. Caplan Mediation Divorce & Legal Services is accessible and affordable. Business and evening hours are also available each week.   Make your own life a little bit less hard. Mediate.


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