Mediation Mindset – Five Keys to a Parenting Plan You Can Live With

Nebraska family law statutes require a parenting plan to be developed and approved by the court in all child custody cases. If that doesn’t happen, the judge will create the parenting plan. 

We’ve generally found that a parenting plan parties develop themselves through mediation in a divorce or child custody case is more likely to be followed by both parties than one the judge creates. Mediated parenting plans also tend to end up having fewer problems after the court case is over than a judge-made parenting plan.

But, like anything, the success or failure of mediation depends a lot on how you approach it. Here are five things you can do to increase your chances of coming out of parenting plan mediation with an agreement that’s best for your child – and that you can live with: 

1.  Drop the baggage. Any negative feelings you may have about your soon to be ex-spouse or former significant other have no place in mediation. The parenting plan mediation isn’t about you. It isn’t about your ex or your relationship with them. It IS about your children. Put yourself in their shoes. 

Based on our experience, most Omaha area child psychologists, if called to testify at trial, will say that, in most cases, it’s in a child’s best interest to have a full and significant relationship with both mother and father. It’s your job, as a good parent, to help your children achieve that – regardless of your feelings about the other parent.

2.  Focus on what matters – your children. The parenting plan’s goal is to lay a framework for a parenting time structure that will be best for each of your children’s individual needs. This means that you may need to let go of your idea that you must have Christmas day every year, instead of Christmas Eve, or that you must have pick up or drop off at a certain time to accommodate your activities if it means creating a problem with your child’s schedule. 

Some of your children’s needs may be inconvenient for you, but may create an opportunity for you to give a little in the mediation process to show that you’re making a good faith effort – and to encourage the other parent to do the same – in the best interest of your children. 

3.  Be okay with not getting everything YOU want. Mediation is really a negotiation moderated by a trained and certified parenting plan mediator. In negotiation, the best result is usually one that leaves each party both a little dissatisfied and a little satisfied. Be prepared to accept something less than everything you want. The big win, however, comes with walking out of mediation with a parenting plan agreement that will be best for your children, and will be more likely to be followed by both parties. 

4.  Come prepared. It’s important that you’re able to let the mediator know what your concerns are on behalf of your children, and what you see to be your children’s interests. Make a list and bring it to the mediation, along with some ideas about how the parenting plan might address those interests and concerns. 

5.  Be open and listen. Even if you think the other parent is as useful as a screen door on a submarine, listen to what they have to say at mediation. They may have a different perspective than you regarding your children. While you may not agree with much they say, they may have some thoughts and ideas that will help develop a parenting plan that will help your children grow up being loved, cared for and having a strong relationship with both parents.

The bottom line in all of this is the goal:  developing a parenting plan that will help your children grow into loving, respectful and well balanced adults – which is one thing that both you and the other parent can agree upon. 

At Hightower Reff Law, our family law attorneys have helped countless clients through the process of mediating parenting plans. If you need an attorney or a certified family law mediator (which I am) for your child custody case, we can help. Contact us online, or call us at 402-932-9550. 

NOTE: In some cases – like child custody cases involving domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues – mediation may not be appropriate. Or, a special kind of mediation may be warranted. 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

How to NOT Get Away With Murder – What Jodi Arias did wrong & what you can do if you are affected by domestic violence

The first thing Jodi Arias did wrong – according to an Arizona jury of her peers – was to kill her estranged boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2007. Her case is a roadmap for an unsuccessful criminal defense strategy in a first degree murder case – how to commit murder and not get away with it. Next – if there was domestic violence in the relationship – she went about getting out the wrong way.

According to evidence at trial, Arias slit Alexander’s throat, stabbed him 27 to 29 times, and shot him. This week another Arizona jury decided Arias will spend her life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first degree murder. 

Self-defense story didn’t make the cut with the jury

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Arias’ claim that she had to kill Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. Although there are a number of groups that support Arias and her claims, the jury found that there were a lot of holes in her story. Among them – the battered woman/post-traumatic stress syndrome story was the third one Arias told police. 

First, Arias told police that she and Alexander had broken up, and she knew nothing. Then, she blamed an intruder. Finally, in 2008, Arias told police she killed Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. This is an example of what can happen when a defendant attempts to talk themselves out of accusations with a lie. It’s something the Nebraska criminal defense attorneys at Hightower Reff law would never advise.

Her changing stories are only a part what the jury decided discredited Arias, who spent 18 hours testifying in her own defense during the trial. During that testimony, she repeatedly contradicted herself. Add Arias’ changing stories to contradicting herself on the stand, and then throw in other evidence from the prosecution, and it’s a recipe for a conviction that no criminal defense attorney could reasonably overcome. It all added up in the minds of Arias’ jury to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Domestic violence & the law in Nebraska 

Arias’ sentencing this week has again made domestic violence a trending topic across the country. Whether you believe Arias’ defense or not – domestic violence is a real issue thousands of women face. It happens right here at home – daily. 

Here in Omaha, Nebraska, police have a special domestic violence policy and a list of resources. Our state also has State laws intended to protect victims and their children. Nebraska statutes recognize a separate crime of domestic assault that includes not only actual physical harm, but threats as well. 

At Hightower Reff Law, we have helped many with domestic violence issues. We know Nebraska domestic violence law – both as attorneys for those who are victims, and for those accused of domestic violence related crimes. 

We also know that it can be dangerous and frightening for a domestic violence victim to leave. But, there are many reasons that they must take steps to get out of the abusive relationship before it ends in murder – of them or the abuser.  If the victim has children, they have even more reason to leave. 

Nebraska law says that if a child is exposed to domestic violence in the home, they are to be removed and placed in State custody for their safety. That means that the children of a domestic violence victim could end up in foster care. If the victim doesn’t get out of the DV situation and stay out, he or she could lose their parental rights. 

Help for domestic violence victims and offenders 

If you are having legal problems related to domestic violence as a victim or an offender – whether in county court, district court, or juvenile court – call Hightower Reff Law today at 402-932-9550 to find out how we can help.  

Resources for Victims

If you are in a domestic violence relationship, get help right away. Click here for a list of places that can help.

Programs for offenders

There are a number of court approved domestic violence programs for batterers throughout Nebraska. Click here for a list.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.