How do child custody and child support work differently in a Collaborative Divorce than a litigated divorce?
You will rarely hear the word “custody” pass my lips. Custody is a trigger word that suggests exclusive ownership. You don’t own your children. They are children, not cattle. They deserve the love and respect of both parents, even when those parents are barely talking with each other.
Rather than “custody,” think about “parenting” or “co-parenting” for the sake of your children.
Even when communications are not working well between you, as parents, you can work in parallel, with the same goals of safety and love for your children. Think about the time that each of you will be able to spend with the children. In Collaborative Divorce, we discuss which parent is responsible for what and when. We don’t ask someone to impose a time schedule on the parents, we work with the parents to design their own timesharing schedule.
There may be situations that dictate the timeshare needs to be something other than simply an equal time share. Children generally prosper if they have equal or close to equal time with each parent. However, that’s not always possible. The demands of one parent’s work schedule may require more flexibility. If there are concerns about substance abuse or mental stability, the children’s safety is paramount. Even then, with professional support, the children can be safe and able to spend time with both parents.
We talk about responsibilities that you have as a parent.
We talk about responsibilities that the other parent has as a parent. We are talking about nurturing your children so that they can grow up and have successful relationships. The more that you and have increased hostility and conflict, the more you reduce the chances of your children being able to have solid, long term relationships.
The difference between a Collaborative Divorce and a litigated is drastic. A litigated divorce in court, is a very messy process that has great potential for damaging your children.
In a Collaborative Divorce or mediation, I like to work with a mental health professional to assist in the design of a parenting plan. This assures that both voices are heard as the plan is created.
In a Collaborative Divorce, the parents work with a child specialist as part of the team.
Whether the children are 2 years old or 52 years old, your divorce has an impact on them. It is often really helpful for your children to have their voices heard in the divorce: not to make decisions for you but to have their concerns heard. A child specialist, or an adult child specialist, assists by talking to your kids, and gathering information from them. That information is brought back to you and the other parent in order to design a parenting plan that fits your family more successfully than an order imposed by a court or court mediator.