Throughout history, warring factions have come together searching for a more peaceful resolution to their disparate needs. They have often turned to negotiation, which at its finest, is a mix of diplomacy, dialogue and recognition. It isn’t about getting what you want or simply giving in to their needs. Negotiation is essentially having both sides walk away satisfied.
As you go through the process of divorce, there will be many issues that arise, but probably none more emotional than those involving your children. Research has shown that high levels of conflict—both during and after the divorce—between parents contribute to poorer adjustment in children. Putting aside any personal animosity and focusing on what’s best for your children will go a long way in creating a custody schedule that works for everyone.
Alternative dispute resolution methods
When you agree to work together to find a peaceful solution and try to avoid litigation, you both become active participants in the child custody agreement—rather than having a judge make the determination for you. Parents know best what their children need and what works best for them. The primary methods used are:
- Mediation: A neutral third-party mediator is chosen who facilitates the process. Both parents discuss the case with each other and the agreement is determined by both of you.
- Collaborative Law: The setting differs from mediation in that there is no neutral third party at the center of the collaborative process—it’s just you both and your attorneys. Your attorney participates in the collaborative process as your representative, and also acts to support and encourage an agreeable solution for all everyone involved.
Tips to get to the agreement
There a few things you can do to increase your odds of reaching the best-possible child custody agreement. These include:
- Prepare: Know the North Carolina child custody laws and have an attorney that values collaborative law and mediation.
- Take a deep breath: Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Be calm and polite as you remember this is for your kids.
- Be flexible: Be open to ideas other than the ones you came in with. Being flexible will help you reach the agreement that works for your family.
- The plan is your plan: You’ll want to stick to your new plan and communicate when a conflict arises—like a work trip or a family vacation. OurFamilyWizard.com is a helpful site that offers tools for coordinating custody schedules, splitting expenses and sharing your children’s health records. It also includes a message board and the innovative Tonemeter, which flags when your tone may incite conflict.
It is in the best interests of everyone affected by a divorce to negotiate a custody schedule. The process shields children from their parents’ disagreements and can set a tone of cooperation after the divorce is finalized. And after all, that is in the best interest of your children.