Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

Are you tired of hearing about my trip to Italy?  Sorry, I still have more to say,......but not today.  Today, I want to tell you the story of a mediation.  Here in the Trenches, the hardest, most heart wrenching cases are move aways.  That's when one parent is moving out of the area and wants the child to go with them.  Some parents can discuss and agree what will happen to their child in that case, but many more cannot.  It is torture to think one parent or the other will not be a daily or even weekly part of their child's life.  When parents can't agree on where the child will live and when they  will see the other parent, they usually end up in court.  When that happens, the cases hardly ever settle; a judge usually makes that decision.

I am in the midst of a move away case now.  Both parents are fit and loving parents.  For the last three years, their child has spent relatively equal time with both of them.  Now, however, one parent has to move across the country.  The parent has no choice.  We are headed to court.  What I suggested, and the other attorney agreed, was that we head to mediation.  Wait, didn't I say these cases rarely settle?  Yes, I did.  We are headed to mediation to determine the access schedule for each parent with the child.  We simply aren't going to decide which parent gets which schedule.  We'll let the judge to that.  Why are we doing this?  If you think about it,  it makes sense to do this.  Both parents have an incentive to make sure both parents' access schedules are acceptable because they don't know which of them will get which schedule.  They also retain some control in a system which removes their control.  As an added bonus, they are using their lawyers and paying attorney's fees toward a constructive and positive result.

So, we were mediating this case today.  Both parents are at the table, working hard.  We start discussing how often the child will fly back and forth in the first six month period.  No surprise, the parents don't agree.  One parent wants the child to fly back and forth every month. The other?  Only once at three months and then again at six.  Why such a difference?  Well, the parent who wants the monthly travel thinks they will miss the child too much if they don't see him every month, at least at first, and wants to see him often.  The other parent is concerned about how that much travel will affect the child.  Will it be too disruptive for him?  Will it be too confusing?  Which parent is looking out for the child's best interest?  Can you tell?    I know, that's just one fact the court is going to look at to decide this child's access schedule.  Still, do you look more positively at a parent feeling that more frequent contact more often with a parent is in the child's best interest, or do you view with more favor a parent who wants stability in the child's daily life?  So glad I'm not a judge.  Here in the Trenches.

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