parenting child development

Don’t underestimate mediation
Successful co-parenting starts with how you choose to handle your divorce or child custody dispute. The best possibility for cooperation and collaboration between the parties is at the outset of the case, rather than in the middle or the end of litigation, which can quickly get expensive and ugly. One of the best methods for resolving any dispute is to seek a qualified mediator, whose goal is to guide you through this process while minimizing emotional and financial pain. There are wonderful collaborative divorce attorneys and mediators on Maui. However, if mediation doesn’t seem like a good choice, and you choose to pursue a traditional litigation attorney, remember that you’re in control. Do not allow yourself to be steered into making decisions that don’t feel right or fair–no matter what any bossy attorney says.

Give yourself time
First and foremost, give yourself time to heal. Divorce and child custody disputes are traumatic. All sorts of accusations are thrown around, your parenting abilities are often questioned, and strangers are making decisions regarding your treasured children. While you shouldn’t expect to immediately jump to being a happy modern family, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it may feel like an absolute impossibility, most divorced and separated parents end up finding an equilibrium.

Remain flexible

After your dispute is resolved, a custody agreement is created. This agreement should act as a guiding template, not a document you follow with strict adherence. Life happens and schedules will need to change. Try your best to remain flexible and extend courtesies, with the hope that those same courtesies will be extended to you down the road. When disagreements arise, ask yourself: Is this worth fighting for? Do you want to invite further conflict into your life? My advice is to save your energy and good will for those things that really matter.

Keep the Big Picture in Focus
Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Births. All parents know parenting doesn’t end at 18. In fact, many of your greatest joys as parents often come after your child flies the coop and starts their own families. You do not want to cheat yourself of these happy moments by holding on to old grudges. Enjoy these occasions together and celebrate the wonderful people you made.

Image Credit: Emma Whitney Photography

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Erin Lowenthal is the founder and managing partner of Lowenthal & Lowenthal - a Wailuku based law practice focused on family law and personal injury law. Her practice is focused on resolution through mediation and collaboration outside of court. Prior to entering private practice, Erin served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Family Law Division and as an attorney for the County of Maui. You can contact her at 242-5000 or go to www.lowenthal-hawaii.com

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