1. Have an open mind and open ears.
Yes, the hated ex-spouse or soon to be ex-spouse is in the other room. You feel as though you are (once again) going into a battle. Pause – don’t draw lines in the sand before you even get to mediation. This will not be easy and you will have to stretch yourself t do this. Do it for your children. Listen to the details of what is being offered before you reject it out of hand. Take a moment to consider it fully, including why you want to reject it – is it because of your emotions, your pride, the way it would look to others? Consider your motivate and check your emotions frequently. If you or your ex thinks there is only one solution and is stubborn and unwilling to compromise, you probably won’t be successful at mediation. But the alternative is a complete stranger (and elected official) deciding what’s best for your children. Be aware of the impact of a drawn out litigated custody battle on the children. (It’s not good). Do some research.

2. Have the kids’ best interests at heart.
As much as you may love to hate your ex-spouse, you have a child or children together – that binds you with this other person at least as a co-parent until the child is at least 18 and probably longer. View it like a business partnership where the offspring are the products of the company. Your decisions should be in the interest of producing the best product possible: responsible adults who only need a little counseling (not a lifetime) because of mom and dad. Make sure your decisions and responses are not motivated by punishing the other spouse by keeping the child from him or her! Because he was a bad husband does not equate to a bad father, and a child needs a father in his life. “Involved dads = successful children.” http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-need-their-dads.

“As long as courts recognize the importance of shared parenting, children of divorced parents will be right up there in emotional stability and achievement with children from households where the parents are married and living together.” http://dadsdivorce.com/articles/the-importance-of-the-involved-divorced-dad/

Don’t set out to prove he or she’s a bad person and bad dad. Focus on what he or she does right. Recognize that the children need time with both parents, and unless the other parent is an axe murderer, a court will award time with the kids. (I’m exaggerating, a little).

3. Prepare an Outline of Your Top Concerns.
Write out proposals in case you become emotional.

4. Focus on the Children, Not the Ex. Love your child more than you hate your ex. Don’t bad-mouth the co-parent.

And the final and most important tip – listen to your lawyer. You’re paying for expertise, and some should be offered to you during the mediation.

If you or someone you know needs family law help or want to consult with a mediator, you can reach me at 865-934-4000 or handerson@millerandersonlaw.com.

© 2016 Heather G Anderson, LLC