Many attorneys hold the belief that when divorcing parents are unable to come to an agreement in regard to parenting issues with respect to their children because each of them remain locked in high conflict, shared parental responsibility between the parties may not be appropriate. The main reason for this belief is that the children’s mental and physical well-being will deteriorate due to constantly being the middle of their parent’s continuing dispute over parenting issues. Florida Statute § 61.13 require that the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration in creating the terms of a Parenting Plan.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators recognize that high conflict custody cases involve issues that go beyond just establishing a Florida Parenting Plan. Sometimes it is beneficial to have the parties arrive for mediation at different times and then immediately be placed into separate rooms.
This is known as “caucus”-style mediation, where the spouses are kept in separate rooms from the very beginning of mediation, and the mediator travels back and forth between the rooms relaying information and offers. There is a good reason why many mediators prefer caucus-style mediation in a high conflict custody case – since this type of case normally involves a highly-emotional process, spouses can set each other off when they are facing one another, and negotiations can descend into argument and cease being productive. At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we routinely find that this type of a mediation can quickly become counter-productive since each spouse knows which buttons to push that will result in greater conflict between the two of them.
When our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators are involved in this type of a case, we make every effort to guide the parties to agree to a Parenting Plan that maximizes each parents time with his or her children, while minimizing the exchanges that take place between the parties. Each time that the parties exchange the children there is a likelihood that the children will become involved in the parties’ continuing conflict.
One way that Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. has found to accomplish this goal is to guide the parties to develop a Parenting Plan where most of the exchanges take place at the children’s school. One way to do this is to set an alternating week on -week off schedule where one party ends his or week by dropping the children at school and the other party starts his or her week with the children by picking them up on Monday when school gets out.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we are very cognizant that § 61.13 sets forth approximately twenty different factors that a court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child. When our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators mediate a high conflict custody case, the best interest of the children remains a major focus.
If you have any questions about mediation and high conflict custody cases, feel free to contact Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc.