Wow, I know a lot of people who thought their divorce hearing date would be Independence Day. Some were right. They were at last free to go their separate ways, with assets and debts disentangled and divided. Actually, they could have been free in that respect months earlier if they had worked with a professional family mediator, with advice from attorneys, to make their decisions and divide their real estate, cars, bank accounts, credit accounts, and other assets and debts. A Mediated Property Settlement Agreement would do the job and could later be incorporated into the court’s Order of Divorce.
For parents of minor children, the date of the Divorce Order is not Independence Day. The kids need their parents to communicate (without using the kids as messengers) and cooperate about parenting plans and transportation for the kids for years to come. Even if most communication goes through email or text messages, each parent’s plans and schedule may have to be coordinated with the other parent’s plans and schedule.
Many parents manage this easily enough on their own. Others like using online calendars or other software for keeping track of their children’s schedules — routine and vacation times with each parent, sports practices, doctor appointments, parent-teacher conferences, Girl Scout trips, etc. Some good resources for coordinating schedules and keeping the other parent informed about events and appointments are available at OurFamilyWizard.com and at UpToParents.com. If you and your child’s other parent are often get into disputes about scheduling, consider working with a professional family mediator to create a sufficiently detailed agreement that both of you can honor. (We usually recommend including a section that says you may modify the schedule anytime you want to, as long as both of you agree about the changes.)
Whatever works for you, be good to your kids. Let them have the freedom to be kids, playing, learning, and having fun, not worrying about their parent’s quarrels.
The author, Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D., is the Director of a group of Professional Family Mediators certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia. She is not an attorney or a therapist. Nothing here should be construed as legal advice. For a free consultation about whether family mediation would be helpful for you, contact Colin Family Mediation Group at mediatorQ@gmail.com or 703.864.2101.