To understand why mediation is better for children, one first must appreciate how court can be harmful.
Court may be seen as a contest between competing views in a winner-take-all scenario. To achieve the win, it often involves one parent demonstrating the shortcomings of the other parent, who in turn seeks to do the same. This is often referred to as a race to the bottom as neither parent wants to look bad, and certainly not “worse” than the other.
As the battle continues, parents are both angered, worried and distracted. The kids may get inadvertently involved too, as parents worry about the child’s views and interests along the way.
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When we wonder about the outcome for children of separated parents, it is the conflict, the fight between the parents, the situation that court intensifies, that is harmful to kids and their development.
Mediation is not a race to the bottom. Mediation relies less on proving better or worse than seeking a future orientation. Here, parents can sort out between themselves, with the help of the mediation, a mutually acceptable plan for the care of the kids. Thus, conflict tends to lessen in the mediation process and it is far less likely that the kids will be exposed to the parental dispute.
Given that mediation results in an agreement both parents can live with, it means these agreements are more likely to be followed, and last for a longer period of time. This too serves the children as the beneficiary of peace in the homes.