Splitting Up a Family: How Mediation Can Help
When a couple that has children together decides to split up, they are not just breaking up their
marriage but also a family. Just the idea of this can be daunting and overwhelming before
adding in all of the paperwork and legal fees and court procedures. The thought of putting your
family through this is enough to give you pause — which it should — but studies show that
children are better off in two homes where each parent is happy rather than one home where
there is anger and anxiety. Judith Wallerstein, the author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce,
recommends trying to continue to cohabitate for the sake of the kids if you are able to co-parent
and communicate civilly and respectfully.
Many separated families have chosen, or been forced to, cohabitate during Covid or for other
financial reasons. Many families also choose to “nest”, which is when the children stay in one
home and the parents rotate in and out. Both circumstances are unusual and often temporary
but still need the support to make the circumstances fluid, especially as the situation generally
does eventually transition to separate homes. A divorce mediator in San Diego can work with you at any and all
points throughout the entire process to help you communicate and set your schedule and adapt
your financials to each new setting.
But more often than not, cohabitating or nesting is not possible, so if you’ve made the difficult
decision to proceed with divorce you will next have to decide how to do so. Being at the behest
of the court’s schedule will only add to the stress of trying to divide households while hopefully
remaining amicable. Depending on the number of children, the age of the children, and the
availability and flexibility of each parent’s career, there are many different ways to approach
divorce with custody and support. Mediation will allow a trained third party to help you and the
mediator will go on this arduous journey with you. A mediator can get creative in ways that a
court cannot. And the direct communication skills you will learn throughout mediation will
continue with you as your split household ages.
What does this mean? A mediator will assess the personalities and challenges and find the best
way to effectively communicate with the intent of creating a new relationship between the now
former couple. There’s not one blanket solution for every couple who needs to co-parent and
the mediator knows that and will remind the parents that the goal is to come to an agreement
with the children’s best interests at heart. Here’s the tricky part — each parent honestly believes
they know best what is in their child’s best interest, but that belief may not be shared by their
co-parent, so this is where the mediator can help the couple come to a compromise. And since
the mediator has taken the time to get to know the family — even speaking with the children in
certain circumstances — the mediator can make an informed decision rather than a
court-ordered formal and possibly impersonal judgment.
About Chief PeaceKeeper Scott F. Levin
Scott Levin is the founding partner of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law (858-255-1321). Mr. Levin is an active member of The Academy of Professional Family Mediators and many other organizations that promote the benefits of family mediation. Scott is also a licensed attorney in the state of California as well as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. He chooses to practice as a mediator to help clients reduce conflict and stay out of court.