Ever wonder how to make the children’s needs a priority during mediation? According to family lawyer and mediator Laura M. Urbik Kern, that’s the lawyers job.
How do you make the children’s needs a priority during mediation?
That’s the lawyer’s job. The lawyer has to keep going back to “wait—we’re talking about Joey here, we’re not talking about your ex. What does Joey need? What did dad do? What had dad done? Is dad a good dad? He’s maybe a rotten husband, but he could be a great dad.”And vice versa—it might be a horrible wife but a great mom. Sometimes there needs to be reminders and cues in place to help the process stay focused on the children. It’s difficult to get people to come to the table and admit that the other parent might actually have a good thing about them, but you can get them there. Once you’ve established that, it goes a lot faster.
I just like to emphasize how important it is that your kids come first in any dissolution proceeding. I don’t know how to say that in any other way, it’s just really important. It’s also important that the less money you spend in court, the more money you have to put your kid through college, period.
Sometimes I will ask the divorcing parents, “Do you have a picture of your child?” They’ll say “no,” and I’ll say, “What? Come on, in your phone?” Usually it’s followed with, “Oh yeah, I got one in my phone.” So I say, “Let’s put it on the table.” Sometimes I’ll do that, sometimes I won’t. It just depends on the people and the feeling that I get from them. I meet with them individually before I go into the joint session to try to get a feel for what’s going on in their lives. I think doing that makes a big difference.
With 30 years of experience in family law, Laura M. Urbik Kern is a certified mediator and family lawyer who concentrates on dissolution, family and juvenile law, child support, and complex domestic relations cases.
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