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The Parenting Plan and Mediation

“What do you need to get started? 1. You don’t need any paperwork. When you come to mediation, you show up as mother and father. Your marital status and its attendant issues are not invited. 2. You need to agree that you are both acting in the best interest of your child/ren; neither parent stands to win or lose.

3. You need to actively and honestly explore and resolve: A. Legal Custody. Will you share the rights as parents to make major decisions about your child/ren’s welfare (such as medical treatment, education, religious upbringing), with a view toward following a harmonious policy? Legal custody confers equal decision-making responsibility upon both parents irrespective of where the children live. B. Physical Custody. Where will your child/ren live, and how will their time be divided between your homes? Will you continue to have joint physical custody, or will one of you have primary physical custody? Primary physical custody is defined as more than 60% of annual overnight time. (Remember: physical custody has no bearing on legal custody.) 4. You need stamina. Take a break and check your emotional barometer. Did resolving custody issues deplete your reserves? If so, you might conclude your first session with a sense of major accomplishment. Subsequent logistics will flow sensibly now that your custody schedule is established. When You Continue.. 5. You will draw from what you’re already doing that works, and from the practical ramifications of your custody schedule, to make decisions about: A. Summer Schedule/Vacations B. Holiday and Special Occasion Schedule C. Pick up/Drop Off arrangements D. Business Travel provisions E. Residence provisions 6. You will agree upon how and when to introduce your child/ren to new romantic interests. 7. You will identify and agree upon any other parenting requirements germane to your family for inclusion in your plan. 8. A draft of what you have created will be prepared by your parenting mediator and presented for your review. Take your time in reading and considering your plan. This document is wholly flexible and should fully reflect your unique set of family dynamics. 9. Be assured that even the “final” Plan is evolutionary; it can and should be changed in the future as your children’s needs and circumstances change. What to Remember.. The configuration of your family will change. Your living space may change. That you are your children’s parents doesn’t change. Be who they need you to be and they will thrive no matter where they live or with whom they spend their birthday with this year.”

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