Co-Parenting Mediation

As difficult as a divorce can be for a married couple, it can be just as upsetting and confusing for the children of the relationship. Not only are you trying to cope with a major life change, but you are also responsible for inflicting as little trauma as possible to the children of the relationship. Parents want what is best for their kids and often fear the effects a potentially long, drawn out court battle can have -with good reason!! Battling parents in long litigation can be catastrophic for the family and for your little ones.

What is Co-Parenting Mediation?

Mediation is a process that involves the creation of a co-parenting agreement.  It is a voluntary process that seeks to meet the needs of all family members, each parent, and the children. Parents create the co-parenting plan with the mediator keeping communication productive and civil as well as guiding the plan so it remains fair and kid-friendly.

Simply put, co-parenting mediation utilizes a neutral third party to support individuals in coming to resolutions pertaining to the best interest of the child/children. The neutral third party supports positive, topic-driven discussion focused on transcending differences and reaching mutually agreeable solutions. Co-parenting mediation specifically support parties with minor children in the process of separation, dissolution/divorce, and ongoing (post decree) as life unfolds.

Mediation helps resolve parental differences that are hindering their ability to share the parenting of their children.  Mostly, though, the process focuses on the development of a parenting agreement and the logistical details that go with it. In many states, a parenting plan must be filed with the court, and mediation facilitates the process.

Although co-parenting mediation doesn’t emphasize relationships the way therapy does, it does have benefits. Mediators step in when discussions become heated. They help the parents focus just on the task of creating a plan that is healthy for their children.It is not uncommon for even the most experienced communicators and parents on the best of terms to struggle through these important life conversations and decisions.

You may not be married anymore but you still must have a relationship with the other parent for years to come. Children have a base need to feel safe and secure. Healthy co-parenting during a divorce/separation often involves a lot of self-editing, communication with your ex-spouse, and consistent rules and expectations for children. Unless there is a valid concern or the wellbeing of a child is in question, there is no room for negativity and the process can be done amicable.

Even though both parents are the ones to attend co-parenting mediation, this process is for the children.

“ The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other” – Jane Blaustone

Some additional topics outside of the parenting plan that are addressed:

  • Putting kids first
  • Difficult issues between the parents (This isn’t couple’s counseling, but a mediator will address problems for the sake of the kids.)
  • Differences in parenting styles
  • Defining what child behavior is acceptable and unacceptable
  • Setting standard limits and boundaries
  • Decisions about what rules should be consistent between homes and which can be different
  • Establishing a climate of respect between parents and in both households
  • Fostering healthy and regular communication
  • Increasing problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Learning to manage emotions, anxieties around the divorce and co-parenting
  • Strengthening parents’ ability to nurture their kids despite negative feelings for each other ("Tips for Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex")
  • Discussing the importance of communicating to kids that they can have equal relationships with both parents

The greater purpose to all of this is designing a co-parenting plan that helps kids feel like they are at their home no matter which parent they are with.

Once the parenting plan is complete with both parties in agreement to ALL topics, both will sign the agreement and submit to the court with their divorce paperwork to be filed. If the divorce has already been filed, the parenting plan can be submitted as an addendum. If the parties are working with attorneys, it is recommended each attorney review the parenting plan for their approval prior to submitting to the court. The judge will then review/sign and the parenting plan will then become a legal binding agreement between both parties. Failure to follow the agreed upon parenting plan can be subject to legal ramifications.

Co-Parenting Mediation

Why Co-Parenting Mediation?

  • Lower cost compared to dealing with ongoing legal fees and court appearances
  • Faster (usually than ongoing legal involvement and court appearances)
  • Confidential (Info not used in court)
  • Promotes better co-parenting relationship
  • Addresses direct needs & concerns of both parties
  • Allows for negotiations and more control over the custody agreement
  • No attorneys or legal counsel involved, just parents trying to prepare a plan for the best interest of their child/children.

What does the Co-Parenting Mediation process look like?

Once both parties have agreed to participate in co-parenting mediation, a confidential questionnaire will be sent to both parties with several topics/questions pertaining to their parenting, needs, and concerns.

Parties will meet with the mediator and begin the process of discussing each topic one at a time until an agreed upon solution is determined. During mediation, the mediator will make and document co-parenting arrangements and decision. Some of the discussions focus on logistics. Creating a parenting schedule can be part of the process, as are other practical details like transportation between homes, getting kids to and from school and activities, new relationships, how medical decisions will be made, and educational considerations (which school to attend, how to help kids thrive academically and socially). Parents also talk through other subjects with the assistance of the neutral, calm therapist. Approximately 60+ topics are discussed. Some topics may take longer than other topics to find an agreement on. The co-parenting plan is not complete until ALL topics are agreed upon.


What is the difference between Co-Parenting Mediation and Litigation?

Co-Parenting Mediation involves two parties sitting down to make agreements and find solutions regarding their shared interests around their child/children. The mediator facilitates as a neutral third party, supporting the parties in unpacking and untangling their current life together, working towards agreements regarding how life may look as everyone moves forward and how to create a detailed & specific parenting plan that serves the best interest of the child/children.

Litigation naturally places parties on opposing sides, pitting them against one another. This process often times leads to parties feeling resentful, sided, treated unfairly, silenced and bitter. “We know litigation is very hard on families, very hard on children, a waste of resources, a waste of assets, and it’s stressful. So we always say it’s better if people can reach their own agreements” – Judge Susan Tolbert


“Effective parenting has nothing to do with pointing out our faults and everything to do with working out solutions” – L.R. Knost