In terms of family mediation, what does it mean to be child-focused? When deciding the arrangements for children, judges are to consider the best interests of the child. So, what is the child-centered approach to parenting in a divorce?

Children have rights after a divorce; they have the right to a meaningful, nurturing relationship with each parent. They have the right to two homes where he or she is cherished. They have the right to two parents who share in raising them. They have the right to be free from hearing, observing or being involved in their parents’ conflicts. Divorce does not end the family, but reorganizes it into two separate homes.

As each child is unique, the family arrangements must recognize the common needs and individual differences. Children will be least affected by a divorce when both parents support the child’s loving relationship with each other, and where the children are excluded from adult matters. While children’s views are considered, the adults make the final decisions.

Although the marriage has ended, the family continues in a different way. Parents can continue to parent effectively in two different homes and in a changed relationship with the other parent.

Parents should strive for an effective working relationship that meets the needs for their children. Reliability, patience, flexibility, and mutual respect are all important factors. Effective communication is a necessity. A parent should accept the other parent’s parenting style in order to maintain a healthy, positive relationship with their child.

Parenting in divorce is an emotionally charged experience. Mediation provides for a direct discussion between parents to carefully craft a parenting arrangement to focus on their children’s interests. Court litigation is an adversarial contest emphasizing opposing views and is potentially high conflict.

Carefully consider mediation as the child-focused dispute resolution process.