Do the Children Take Part in the Mediation Session?
The format for the mediation process is developed by the mediator together with the parties. Sometimes while discussing custody and parenting issues, spouses have requested that children participate in the mediation session. However, this is a bit unusual because, after all, we’re talking about minor children. You, as the parents, are the adults, and the adults make the determination.
Certainly, there are situations with older children, depending on their maturity and age, that if left up to a court, they will listen to a child’s preferences, and so, too, can those preferences be espoused by either one of the parents. Ultimately, the children are not making the decision; the parents are.
There is a difference between sole custody and joint custody. In the context of decision making, sole custody means that one of the parents, the custodial parent, is making all of the major decisions relative to the child. If there is a joint custody agreement with regard to responsibility for the decisions, then both parties have an obligation to discuss and reach an agreement with respect to these important decisions. There are many decisions that need to be made that are crucial to the child’s future and therefore, cooperation between both parties is entirely necessary during a joint custody agreement.
With respect to designing a parenting schedule, the term of sole custody is not used unless there is a reason why a parent should not have parenting visits, which is quite rare. When we look at joint custody, we’re usually referring to the sharing of time with the children. That is in designing a parenting plan that will be fact specific for you. There may be a shared plan that affords merely alternating weekends, and at some time during the week, and holidays. There may be a joint custodial plan that actually provides a 50/50 sharing of a plan. That again will be fact specific to your case.
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