Finding the Parenting Plan That Is the “Right Fit”

Finding the Parenting Plan That Is the “Right Fit” by Susan Ingram

{2:48 minutes to read}

I received a call earlier this week from Jane*, a potential mediation client. During our chat, I proceeded to describe the mediation process and the issues we would be addressing. When I asked Jane if she had any specific concerns she would like me to address, she revealed that she was worried about the tentative parenting arrangement she had worked out with her husband for their 5-year-old son, Benjamin*.

As Jane described the situation, both she and her husband are very involved and loving parents and they each want to spend close-to-equal time with their son. The husband had intentionally moved to an apartment in Manhattan just three blocks from Jane so that Benjamin could sleep at his apartment during the week and still have his daily routine remain the same. They were also alternating weekends with Benjamin. She said this arrangement seemed to be working well for all of them.

I was impressed with how this couple had worked out such a beneficial and viable parenting arrangement, and I asked Jane what her worry was. Her answer: she was concerned that she might appear to be “too accommodating” and perhaps somehow “prejudicing” her rights, especially if they ended up in a litigated divorce. I assured Jane that they had chosen the right approach and stressed how important it was that they continue to work together amicably in creating the best parenting plan possible for their son.

A major benefit of mediation is that a couple can test out more than one parenting plan as they try to figure out what’s best for their child and family. The couple controls the timing and pacing of the mediation process. They can proceed as fast or slow as they deem necessary, until they are truly comfortable with the arrangements they’ve worked out.

Contrast that with a couple that is litigating their divorce. Their separate lawyers often take rigid and “hard” positions on the issues, including parenting. And their lawyers typically encourage little or no communication between the two of them. Certainly not the best circumstances for working through (and testing out) a viable parenting plan.

All things being equal, which approach would you choose? I know which I would.

*Not their real names

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