Britney Spears spent three hours with her sons Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, on Saturday, the first time in almost two months the Toxic singer was allowed to see her kids. On January 4th, Spears’ visitation rights were stripped following a stand-off with police and paramedics when the star refused to turn over her children after a court monitored visit.
Ex-husband Kevin Federline announced through his attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan on Friday that he’d agreed to modify the court order. Spears had recently made two unsuccessful attempts to regain visitation.
Both the singer’s psychiatrist and father Jamie were both reportedly present for the reunion. While it’s not clear what prompted Spears and Federline to turn a corner in their custody battle, one tool divorcing parents can utilize to work out their differences is mediation.
During mediation, a couple chooses a neutral person to help negotiate a fair compromise for all elements of divorce from custody to property. “There are several advantages to going to a mediator,” says William Wiesner, a mediator in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. “That’s because the goal is to have people get along as well as possible after their divorce.”
Because both parties are sitting in the same room, working through the agreement and not playing “telephone” through the attorneys, there is more direct communication which can sometimes lead to a faster, more amiable resolution. “When people are working together, they’re more likely to see common solutions,” says Ken Neumann, a director of the Center for Mediation and Training in New York. “When you’re part of the solution, you’re much more likely to go along with it.”
Arriving at a faster and civil agreement eliminates children from becoming stuck in the middle and sets precedence for co-parenting. “Most parents work better together where their children are involved,” says Neumann. “Because you’re not embittered and not spending the rest of your life angry.”
Which is why in mediation, child support has a 90% compliance rate, says Neumann. In adversarial divorce, 50% of situations women are not receiving child support a year later.
It’s not unusual for couples to seek mediation after becoming embattled in a bitter court battle. “Frequently people aren’t able to get far with attorneys,” said Neumann. “And, after being frustrated and bogged down, many people seek out mediation to look for a better way to do it.” And, because the average mediation can take takes approximately 8 to 12 hours for both parties, it can mean tremendous savings in both time and fees. “If it’s not working, you stop. You pay as you go,” said Wiesner. “There’s no retainer. There’s no hassle.”