Holidays and Mediation


The holidays are coming and when they do, lots of family gatherings come, too. The holidays can have an effect on mediation: some folks try to ignore the tension and the coming split, until they can get through the season.

A tense situation in a family can also affect the holidays. It is MUCH harder to eat and celebrate with someone when there is tension just below the surface. Anything, everything, can remind you of the issues yet to be resolved. It is also much harder when your family is quizzing you about what’s happening in your relationship.

That’s when mediation can help. Even though it takes energy to work out differences during the holidays, progress towards a resolution can feel good, and many of my clients will spend some time talking about the holidays, kids and families so it can be less stressful. Mediation during the holidays can make enjoying the holidays POSSIBLE, without a cloud hanging over your head.

My work as an ER chaplain has taught me things. One of the things working with families who are stressed has taught me is this: Even bad news is often easier to handle than uncertain news. We humans hate uncertainty. With uncertainty about the future, your mind dances around and tries to ponder a thousand possibilities, good and bad. When certainty comes, you can begin to make plans about what comes AFTER. Mediation brings certainty. Instead of wondering through the holidays about where the relationship is going and how much it will cost you will know. If someone asks you about your relationship you can say, “We’re in mediation, we want to do what is best for ourselves and for our kids.

Mediation is self-empowering. You are doing something to help your situation, rather than wandering about in a wilderness of pain, hoping for the best outcome, but fearing the worst. You won’t have to have a judge decide your case. You can. Mediation works, especially during the holidays.

Child Custody, Divorce and Joint Custody

When I meet with divorce mediation clients, many of them say that they want joint custody. For most people, that means exactly 50/50 parenting time. Some even want it down to the hour. And though I’m not an attorney, I know Minnesota law for joint custody is not always exactly 50/50. What joint custody means in most of my agreements is that each parent has some time parenting with the child. Joint means “shared.”

What that means with clients is that there is not great need to get 50% parenting time. Getting less than 50% parenting time with your child or children will not mean the other parent has sole physical custody. In fact, recent changes to the Minnesota Child Support calculations means that there is no longer a dramatic shift at 45.1% parenting time. The new calculations are made more gradually, so there is no need to get over that line to pay less child support.

That is good news for the children in divorce and child custody disputes. It is also good news for their parents in divorce or child custody mediation. It means that the children aren’t being fought over for financial reasons. It also means that parents who are short of money can relax and do a schedule that is best for the child and not just one they can pay for. From what lawyers tell me, what is “best for the child” is the way the MN child custody law is written. With the recent changes in the Minnesota Child Support calculator it is even easier to do what is best for the child emotionally and physically.