Pamela Lutz
Pamela L. Lutz

Michael Rehill
Michael F. Rehill

Divorce litigation hurts children.  Mediation can help.

Mediation is a way of settling disagreements about the care of children following separation and divorce without a courtroom battle. The process helps both parents find a resolution of the problems they may face during separation and divorce. Through mediation, the rights and responsibilities of each parent are identified. The goal is to reorganize the family, not to "award" custody to one parent and make a "visitor" of the other.

With the assistance of trained mediators, parents meet together in an informal setting to decide on a parenting plan for the future which best meets their individual needs and the needs of their children. The mediators are neutral and objective; their role is to help parents work cooperatively in resolving their disputes so they can carry on with the task of parenting their children.

Parents are encouraged to discuss their own desires and plans as well as the present and future needs of their children in an open and positive way. The focus is on the future rather than the past. Mediation provides people with a choice, leaving the responsibility for making decisions where it belongs - with the family.

While every family may not resolve their disputes regarding the future care of the children, most have found mediation useful in reaching acceptable agreements defining the ongoing relationships and responsibilities to each other as well as the children.

There are many reasons why people have found mediation helpful and beneficial:

1. Conflict is natural and normal and issues concerning parenting are emotional and personal rather than legal. Mediation is a method of resolving conflicts.

2. Mediation emphasizes that divorce is not the end of a family rather, a reorganization of how the family operates.

3. The stress and anxiety associated with separation and divorce, particularly for children, can be reduced. Participation in mediation assists parents in affirming their affection and concern for the children and can reduce the normal fears and anxieties of children concerning the "loss" of one parent.

4. Self-determination and direct involvement in decision-making is effective in promoting positive and lasting results for the parents and children. Parents who invest time and energy putting together a plan for their children are more likely to adhere to the plan and are less likely to undermine it than those parents whose decision has been made for them by the Court.

5. Research indicates that the successful adjustment of children following separation and divorce is directly related to the level of cooperation between parents and their continued involvement in the lives of their children. Mediation encourages participants to see themselves and each other as capable parents with a continuing responsibility to plan together for the future of their children.



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