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Can Mediation Help Parents Deal With Joint Custody Right Now? NYPI Thinks So.

Can Mediation Help Parents Deal With Joint Custody Right Now? NYPI Thinks So.

By Senior Manager Family Programs, Carol Himes

Deborah Copaken’s article entitled, “How Are Parents Supposed to Deal With Joint Custody Right Now?” (Atlantic, April 8, 2020) underscores the increased challenges the current health crisis is imposing on co-parents, as well as their children.


As the author observes, the COVID-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented pressures on families. Parents worry about their own health and that of their children and loved ones; they are working from home, recently unemployed, or are essential workers putting themselves and possibly their families at risk; and many are likely facing financial strains on food and rent budgets. Further, child-care is virtually nonexistent and school-aged children require additional educational support now that they are “attending” school remotely.

For co-parents, who in the best of times may disagree over parenting schedules and decision making, the stresses brought on by COVID-19 are magnified as additional questions must be answered: how to move between homes, what if one parent wants to move with a child to a distant home, who helps with homework, how to discuss health risks with children, what happens if one parent gets sick, what happens if a child gets sick, and so much more.

New York Peace Institute and other Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) across New York State, provide free co-parenting mediation through video and audio conferencing platforms to support parents facing these challenges. As the stressors of this pandemic continue to escalate, so does the need for having a skilled mediator in the middle to help parents sort out the emotions and issues that arise. Co-parenting mediators support parents to have difficult conversations that they’re not able to manage on their own.  Mediators help parents make decisions regarding concerns such as parenting time, custody, decision making, communication and more. Mediation offers parents an opportunity to voice their concerns and also encourages them to explore what is lying beneath the surface of their positions. Often for high conflict couples, it is ONLY during facilitated sessions that they are able to tolerate listening to one another at all. Furthermore, mediation helps parents come up with realistic solutions for the future, rather than remain stuck in resentments about their past interactions.  

New York Peace Institute provides free co-parenting mediation for cases involving parents in Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as conflict resolution services for a variety of other disputes.  As NYC’s largest civilian peace force and the State-designated Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC) for Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York Peace Institute (NYPI) empowers people to find creative and durable solutions to their disputes. We provide conflict resolution services―mediation, conflict coaching, community conferences and various restorative justice processes―to thousands of New Yorkers each year, and we advance the field by training and certifying mediators and teaching conflict resolution skills to our community through our Training Institute.

For more information about New York Peace Institute’s Co-parenting Mediation Program and other services, please email chimes@nypeace.org.

For inquiries regarding all other NY counties, contact the New York State Dispute Resolution Association at info@nysdra.org