Resolve Holiday Custody Issues in Advance, says South Florida Mediation Expert

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Expert family mediator gives advice on ending parental disputes over the holidays so the fun and excitment of the season can be enjoyed. Give your kids a great gift this season. Several practical tips provided by nationally known family mediator. Mediation Inc has been providing free one hour holiday custody sessions for the last ten years.

It’s an all too familiar scene for the holidays: a divorced mom and dad fighting over how their child will spend the holidays. For the child caught in the middle, such a parental dispute can ruin the fun and excitement of the season, according to Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael J. Carbo, a Certified Family Mediator with more than 30 years of experience in resolving differences as an impartial third party.

“There is no better gift than to have both parents call a temporary truce for the holidays,” says Carbo, who has mediated cases for the Fort Lauderdale firm Mediation, Inc. “There is no question that one of the best gifts you can give your child is to resolve these highly emotional issues in advance.”

Carbo has some other practical advice for divorced or separated parents:

  • If you can't agree on a holiday schedule, at least agree to discuss your disagreements. A compromise solution may be closer than you think.

•Allow your child to spend time with each parent on the actual holiday, if possible.

  • Divide the year-end school break in roughly equal halves. Or, if one parent has travel plans for the holidays, perhaps an “every-other-year” custody arrangement would be suitable.

•Consider giving a joint gift from both parents to show your child that he or she always comes first.

  • Don't lock in your holiday plans before discussing them with the other parent. A little flexibility goes a long way to resolving problems.
  • If you can’t resolve your custody issues, consider professional mediation. Usually, it’s best for the parents to come without their child.

For the past ten years, Mediation, Inc. has assisted the parents of children caught in the middle of a custody dispute during the holiday season. “We have donated up to one full hour per case to help resolve scheduling disputes or other matters related to the holidays,” says Carbo. Mediation is an informal, voluntary process intended to settle conflicts without resorting to litigation or arbitration. Both parties must agree to attend such a mediation session or be ordered to do so by the court.

“Mike Carbo gets parents to cooperate at parenting better than anyone I have ever seen,” says Dr. Joel Klass, a highly respected South Florida psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who has referred child custody clients to Carbo for nearly 20 years. “He has the wisdom of experience and the courage to apply it effectively with warring couples,” says Klass.

Carbo recently appeared on the “Dr. Phil Show,” a CBS television program hosted by Dr. Phil McGraw, Ph.D. to help settle a custody case that had dragged on for seven years. Both sides were so surprised by the mediated resolution that they hailed Carbo’s solution as “nothing short of miraculous.”

In an international child abduction case from Great Britain, Carbo gained notoriety for litigating a child custody matter that gained global recognition when a Florida Court was first asked to implement the provisions of the Hague Convention. Michael solved the case and the children went back home to England.

Carbo – who is Florida Bar Board Certified in the area of Family and Marital Law – is also a Circuit Civil Mediator, former Family Magistrate 17th Judicial Circuit, and a former president of the Broward County Bar Association. For more information, call 954-764-1000.


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Tricia Rutsis