Divorce is a painful part of many lives even when you feel that it is the option that works best for you. When children are involved the process can become that much more painful and because there are often so many unresolved feelings between the couple, the divorce process can often include negativity, turmoil and ongoing hostility towards one another. Persistent strained relationships between spouses take a toll on the children and can lead to low self esteem, behavioral problems and distorted views of what "normal" relationships are. In order to help make the divorce process less difficult I offer the following services.
Child Custody Mediation:
Custody mediation helps both parties become aware of what is in the best interest of the child(ren) as opposed to just what each person wants or thinks it should be. It allows each party to be heard about their needs and how to integrate those into a productive custody agreement. Mediation keeps the custody process from becoming adversarial and allows the parties to decide what custody will be rather than the courts deciding for them.
Parenting in two homes is a very different experience then parenting under one roof. In order for the Co-Parenting relationship to be successful each parent has to be willing to give up control of what goes on in the other parents house and to begin to see the value of the other parents thoughts and ideas around parenting. Each parent offers different qualites to parenting and when these differences are valued by the other parent then the most successful co-parenting relationship can happen. Although this can be a challenge for many people, a third party can help each parent see the significance of the other parent and aid in the communication process.
Designing a good parenting plan allows the parents to work together to raise their children and share their time with the least amount of conflict. Parenting plans are designed to address the many different issues that may arise when co-parenting. These may include holiday schedules, drop off and pick ups, birthdays, school holidays, summer vacations, religious decisions, medical decisions and many more.
Child Custody Evaluations:
When parents can not agree on the best parenting plan for their children, there is the option to have a nuetral party evaluate the parent's strengths and weaknesses, functioning level and parenting styles. The developmental needs of the child(ren) are identified as well as attachment to the parents. From the information gathered, custody arrangement that addresses the best interests of the child(ren) is identified. The Custody Evaluation is a comprehensive approach to identifying and developing a custody plan. It may include all or some of the following depending on what the issues are: Interviews with both parents, meetings with the child(ren), contacting collateral contacts, reviewing documents and home visits. A thorough report with a summary of information gathered and custody recommendations is then provided to the court.
Brief Focused Assessments:
BFA's are an abbreviated version of the Child Custody Evaluation. It typically focuses on one or two specific issues rather than a more comprehensive assessment. It might be that when parents don't agree on location of schooling, medical procedures, specific visitations issues, etc. they agree on having a BFA or the courts order one. They are typically very focused on a certain issue and the resolution of that issue.