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Advantages of flexible schedules for divorced parents

For Massachusetts parents who are getting a divorce, it will also be necessary to work out a plan around child custody and visitation. If possible, parents might be happier with a plan that they negotiate together and make flexible as opposed to a rigid one that is handed down by a judge.

One advantage of a flexible parenting plan that is arrived at through negotiation is that it allows parents to change the plan based on their child's changing wants and needs as they grow older. A baby has different needs compared to a toddler, and a teenager may want to rearrange visitation or custody arrangements to accommodate extracurricular activities or time with friends.

Sometimes, if the divorce is particularly contentious, parents may tend to stick to the rigid plan because they do not want to go through the whole process again. Mediation might make it possible for parents to avoid litigation on this particular issue and draw up an agreement that is still legally binding but that they both have more input into. According to some parents and experts, an arrangement like this better suits many families.

Some studies have found that couples who use mediation as an alternative to litigation are happier with the outcome. Even with high-conflict couples, mediation may sometimes help in reaching an agreement. Mediation may also move a couple closer to agreement on many issues even if they need to turn to a judge to have some of them solved. One thing parents should keep in mind is that even though they are divorcing, their relationship will continue at least until their children are 18 if not beyond that time. Mediation may help them learn co-parenting and conflict resolution skills that will continue to be helpful in the years ahead.

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