Law Firm Polly A. Tatum Attorneys Worcester, Massachusetts Attorney
How To Handle Child Custody Disputes For Same Sex Couples Child Custody Mediation – An Alternative Cost Effective And Beneficial Approach
Massachusetts is home to numerous same sex couples. Those couples similar to heterosexual couples face a variety of family disputes that are appropriate for mediation. Custody in the context of divorce or separation, visitation, paternity cases, modifications, guardianships, adoptions, child support and grandparent visitation matters are all matters that would benefit from mediation. When custody cases become contested, the judicial system does not have the adequate resources or capacity to monitor the interpersonal relationships of the parents or parties involved in the dispute. Lawyers, Judges and family therapists are all in desperate need of finding methods in addressing family trauma.
There have been numerous studies and research conducted that demonstrate how children suffer when their parents separate or divorce. This is especially prevalent when parents are engaged in a custody or visitation dispute. More emphasis in facilitating parental cooperation is a necessity if children are going to thrive once their parents break up. Unfortunately, the litigation process is adversarial in nature and therefore does not lend itself to this proposition. Family law judges do not want parents to loose parental control when it comes to parenting their children. However, often time’s parents turn to the courts to solve their issues when communication breaks down.
Family Mediation is an opportunity to promote cooperative parenting for parents and guardians who have ended their intimate familial relationship. The mediation process is a wonderful opportunity for parents to communicate in a neutral setting with a trained experienced third party to assist in resolving their custody disputes in order to protect the children’s best interests. Additionally, family mediation is a solution-based approach in assisting the parents in developing and maintaining lasting successful parenting plans for many years to come. In my practice, I have observed many parents, both same sex, and heterosexual couples successfully continue a parenting relationship well after the ending of their relationship.
Same Sex couples who are experiencing a family dispute should locate a Family Mediator who has specific qualifications to appropriately handle these delicate matters. The Mediator who handles family related cases needs to be able to deal with the high emotions of the family as well as be familiar with legal issues regarding a formal second parent adoption, or an informal second parent relationship. Although same sex couples can complete a second parent adoption process in Massachusetts, there are numerous couples who have never formalized through the courts their legal parent relationship. However, those couples are still a family and their child would be significantly impacted in the event of a relationship ending. The Mediation process could help both parents have a voice. Finally, Child Custody Mediation can be extremely effective in assisting parents in managing their own conflicts privately and outside of the courtroom.
This Article was submitted by Attorney Polly A. Tatum who is a Domestic Relations Attorney with a concentration in Same Sex Adoptions, and Trained Professional Mediator in private practice in Worcester, MA. She has completed second parent adoptions for couples throughout Massachusetts as well as other States, and assisted numerous families through the Divorce and Family Mediation process. Ms. Tatum is the incoming President of the Worcester County Bar Association and former Board Member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation.
Ms. Tatum was a former Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Worcester, and has vast professional experience in Human Services. Specifically, Ms. Tatum has over twenty years experience as a social worker, case manager and attorney/mediator in the field of child welfare. Ms. Tatum has a B.S. degree in Human Services from New Hampshire College, and a J.D. degree from Massachusetts School of Law, and an LLM from Western New England School of Law. Ms. Tatum has been frequently appointed by the Probate and Family Court in the capacity of Guardian ad litem to handle a variety of custody and parenting disputes.
Mediating Child Custody Disputes (Donald F. Saposnek, 1998)
Creating a Successful Parenting Plan (Dr. A. Jayne Major, 2002)
Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (Joseph Goldstein, Anna Freud, Albert J. Solnit, 1979)