Parents don’t separate because they get along. No, they separate because they don’t get along.
In not getting along it is common for at least one parent to experience some degree or anger or animosity towards the other. Not getting along and experiencing anger and/or animosity makes it difficult to resolve the many issues that separating parents must sort out to enable the care of children between them. To add, both parents may be reasonably frightened about an outcome that may lessen time, involvement and decision-making capacity with their own kids.
To help resolve their differences and allay fears, parents may turn to the court. The court process depends on both parents presenting themselves in a favourable light, and the other parent in a less favourable light. Both parents do this to be perceived as the better parent, and to hopefully achieve their preferred outcome. This in turn is known to escalate the very conflict from which the parents turned to the courts for relief.
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It must be appreciated that parenting disputes are not legal issues, but social issues. Social issues are better resolved in dispute resolution processes that leave people intact, don’t depend on making anyone look bad, and don’t threaten either person’s relationship with their children.
These peacemaking processes are not about reestablishing love between separated parents, but rather facilitating communication and problem-solving capacity. Depending on the level of concern or animosity, various other processes are available to help separating parents resolve their parenting issues. Those processes include counselling, mediation and Collaborative Law.
In counselling there must be some willingness and capacity for self-reflection and learning about the needs of children. Parents would meet with the counsellor and address these issues reasonably.
In mediation, there may be less willingness to self-reflect as opposed to more directing one’s efforts to simply achieving an agreeable parenting arrangement. This is conducted with a single neutral facilitator.
In Collaborative Law, both persons are represented by lawyers and all are agreed that they will seek to resolve matters outside of court. Whereas in mediation there is one neutral facilitator, in Collaborative Law you participate in a roundtable meeting with both lawyers present to help facilitate negotiations.
Whether mediation or Collaborative Law, sensitive issues can be raised for resolution. In both instances, other professionals may be jointly retained to provide input to help resolve more challenging concerns.
For more information, and to determine which process may be best suited to your situation, consult your family law lawyer.