Issues will arise. You and your ex may not agree on an issue or be able to come up with a compromise on your own. If you effectively ended your marriage through mediation, it can also be an effective means of resolving parenting and other issues that arise down the road.
As much as possible, a divorce settlement tries to provide as much permanency to as many issues as possible. The division of financial assets is a good example. When the marriage ends that issue is typically put to bed. The same is not true when children are involved. There are many issues that can arise post-divorce. Most have to do with parenting schedules.
In coming up with a parenting schedule, some couples decide to leave many things open—who goes where on holidays, summer vacations, extra-curricular activities, etc. While you may think you want that flexibility and you can work things as out as you go, the reality can end up being quite different.
For example, one spouse might be able to play more of a role with transportation to and from extracurricular activities in the first year after the divorce. But perhaps after a while, he/she meets and marries somebody else. Suddenly the logistical arrangements include another person. The old arrangements might have to change.
Holidays are another area where after a year or two of one schedule it might be time to reassess. Children get older and may want more input. This can be even further complicated when you or your ex remarries (e.g. your new spouse wants to see his/her parents during the holidays but you it’s your year to be at home and have Christmas with your children).
Other things will also come up during your children’s lives that will require alterations to the parenting schedule. Maybe your child will need psychological counseling or special tutoring. Perhaps your child wants to attend a private school. There are any number of changes with your children that would necessitate revisiting this part of your divorce agreement.
In addition to the parenting schedule there are other issues that might be disputed after a divorce. For example, if a divorcing couple agrees to not sell the family home for a period of time to let the children adjust, there are many potential areas of disagreement while both parties jointly own the home and when they finally decide to sell. For example:
- The custodial parent might want to make some cosmetic repairs to the house but the ex disagrees or does not want to pay for those repairs.
- The ex not living in the house has remarried and wants to buy his/her own home and needs the cash from the sale of the previous home.
- The parties have different opinions about what the house should sell for.
Again, these are a few of many scenarios that could occur.
Appearing before a judge in court takes away the control of the outcome from you and your ex. You will each make an argument and then the judge will rule. One of you will be unhappy at the end of the day and that can have negative overtones which can impact the children.
Mediation for post-divorce situations like the above put the control of your destiny in the hands of you and your ex. With a mediator, you can negotiate an agreement between you and your ex that will best reflect the wishes of you and your ex. Will it be exactly what you want? No, but when you walk into court to present the agreement to the judge, there will be no surprises and the decision will be on the terms of you and your ex, not the judge.
When couples divorce through mediation, it hopefully sets up a pattern of communication that helps them develop the skills to resolve conflict going forward. As with many situations in life, there are some issues where it can be difficult for two people to come to an agreement. For times like this, a third-party, like a mediator, can be a huge benefit—much like it was in coming to your divorce agreement.
By utilizing mediation for post-divorce disputes, you can hopefully prevent resolvable issues from festering and jeopardizing a working relationship with your ex. A working relationship between parents with an open line of communications will always benefit your children.