I once observed a mediation that was mainly about the custody of a single child. One parent was down to once a week monitored visits only. Both parents realized how important it is for their child to have time and a relationship with both parents. Because they started with the same value (the child having a relationship with both parents) they were able to set up an 18 month plan toward shared custody that worked in stages.
With each 3-6 month stage of their agreement, the parent with limited time, committed to take steps to improve their living situation to benefit the child and gain trust in the other parent. Each step challenged both parties to leave their comfort zone but with a focus on the child. That was really the key to bringing them to the table. There were safe guards in place to revert back to the beginning of the stages certain conditions were not met or violated. Both parents left feeling hopeful and secure.
Often times it is difficult to make big changes all at once. Mediation is a place where both parties can openly express their concerns and hesitations and create a plan together that addresses those concerns and hesitations. When both parties work toward a common ideal/value, there is limitless options on a path forward that will protect the interests of all parties while operating in good faith.
It is so satisfying seeing parties previously in conflict work together on their own. When their agreements are their own, they are more likely to stick to them. This was a very valuable learning experience for me that I have already applied to my own life.
That's the beauty of mediation, each one is unique and can help make everyone involved more open and understanding toward others.
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