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Mediation

Mediation (Photo credit: TomNatt)

This week has been filled with divorce-related activities (read: very tense).  I saw Voldemort for the first time in almost 18 months at the mandatory custody mediation.  My county requires mediation on custody within weeks of every divorce filing, and the mediator is a recommending mediator.  That means the report written is taken very seriously by the judge/commissioner assigned to the divorce case.  The court pushes hard for parents to come up with a parenting plan on their own, supposedly because parents and kids are all happier with their own arrangements rather than a judge’s plan, but I think it’s probably more about the court’s (and therefore, the county’s) time and money.

So, Voldemort.  He looks exactly the same.  Acts exactly the same.  We studiously ignored each other in the hallway and waiting room, but the mediator’s office had a desk with two chairs in front of it and we had to sit rather closely together.  It was surprisingly civil.

Voldemort’s custody filing demanded 50-50 joint custody.  Voldemort’s mediation paperwork asked for a weekly phone call working up to a weekly dinner together.  I almost fell off my chair.  Sofia Leo and LookingForward2012 were dead on in their comment here.  And, of course, we’re dealing with a very passive-aggressive man.  His words rarely match his actions.

I corrected his factual inaccuracies, calmly and civilly.  Like his assertion that he emails kid #3 (our only minor child now) often and she doesn’t respond.  According to #3, she hasn’t had an email from him in more than 6 months.

My mediation paperwork offered up a plan to have #3 go to individual therapy and the therapist to decide if/when reunification therapy with her father was appropriate.  The mediator characterized #3 as “resistant to contact with her father.”

Yeah, that understates her feelings perfectly.

In the end, the mediator said she would recommend joint legal custody, with sole physical custody to me and no visitation pending #3’s foray into individual therapy.  Voldemort agreed.  I was completely stunned.

Voldemort even stopped me outside the office after the mediation to ask about kid #2 and her legion of psychiatric and physical problems.  Huh.  He hasn’t asked about her since a two sentence email back in February.

I have no idea what the judge/commissioner is going to say or do in court next month, but I feel better that #3’s voice was heard.

And custody mediation wasn’t as terrifying as a CPS investigation.  So on that scale, I came out ahead.  I’m still anxious that Voldemort’s “men’s rights” attorney is going to muck this up, but I can’t do much about that at this point.  I just keep remembering the universal truth:  Choices have consequences.

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