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Court-ordered mediation helps Wheaton parents compromise

Divorce can be one of the most difficult transitions in life a person can make. Many divorced Wheaton spouses want little or nothing to do with an ex, but that's not so easy when children are involved. Some former married couples move forward without conflicts over child custody or visitation rights, while some former spouses butt heads in court long after a relationship ends.

Wheaton courts sometimes recommend mediation for parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan. DuPage County provides in-class and online parent education programs for married and unmarried parents that teach co-parenting. A professionally-trained mediator meets with parents to help resolve problems keeping parties from reaching an agreement.

A third-party mediator takes no sides in the matter. In fact, the mediator's job and the focus of the education programs are to keep parents focused on the best interests of their children. Parents are encouraged to communicate and compromise, without letting personal differences override the goal of creating a satisfactory parenting schedule.

A workable plan considers the needs of all family members. Ideally, mediation allows parents come to terms over child custody or other parenting issues. However, the court is prepared to act when mediation fails.

It may be helpful to spend some time preparing for a mediated parenting session by speaking with an attorney. Enter mediation with a clear, written idea of what you hope to achieve and, if possible, a way to achieve it. Since some courts have restrictions on materials that are carried into sessions, it's best to consult a lawyer or the court about these rules.

Conflicts are the reasons parents end up in court-ordered mediation. Meeting an ex -- even in a neutral setting -- can trigger strong emotional responses. An attorney or other professional can provide guidance that helps parties stay on track to accomplish the job at hand – a long-term, effective parenting plan.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Preparing for Child Custody Mediation" Caroline Choi, May. 23, 2014

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