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Separation: Who do you see?
is a dynamic that naturally evolves when parents only see lawyers to determine
their ongoing relationship to children, post separation or divorce.
of the disposition of the lawyer, on the mind of the parent, is winning or
coming away with a particular outcome. The parent races to stake a claim. The
parent meets the lawyer, states his or her case, convinces the lawyer of the
righteousness of the claim and thus retains the lawyer to fight the battle.
one parent has staked a claim and begun battle the other parent will naturally
defend him or herself. Given that most people view the best defense as a good
offence, the other parent has to stake a bigger claim. In the process, each
parent resorts to assailing the other while holding his or herself out as the
better parent. The fight is on and hopes fade.
are experts at law. Some are also experts at negotiation. Certainly others are
expert at litigation. However, from a child’s view, relationships with their
parents are generally non-negotiable. From the child’s view and already
feeling their relationships are threatened, their goal is to see relationships
remain intact; that neither parent hurts the other; and that they can enjoy
their lives reasonably with both parents with as little disruption as possible.
more involved parents are in battle and the more hurt they are, the greater the
likelihood the children’s lives are emotionally and psychologically disrupted.
The more disrupted their lives, the more difficult it is for them to get on with
the tasks of childhood, learning and socialization. Therefore, the greater the
parental conflict, the greater the risk of school and social difficulties. Given
childhood is the time of life for the development of cognitive and social skills
necessary for adult life, those children whose learning and socialization is
disrupted are then also at greater risk of problems in adulthood, not having
acquired the necessary skills during childhood.
parents are encouraged to see a social worker or attend educational programs
aimed at helping them understand issues related to settling such matters.
Interestingly, some jurisdictions require parents involved in contested custody
and access matters to attend such programs.
objective in meeting with a social worker or attending a program is to minimize
the risk of conflict by learning about of the consequences of various courses of
action and by learning about the range of alternatives for restructure family
life, children’s time between parents and processes for decision making. The
goal is to resolve matters more amicably, thus alleviating stressors on the
child to provide for better psychosocial outcomes.
the fact that early childhood educators and teachers don’t want children to
fight their battles in the sandbox. They want them to learn to get along and
play nicely. This is what children learn and what they expect to see in their
parents. When parents do otherwise, their influence will outweigh the early
childhood educators and teachers. Children will learn to battle and fight,
particularly with loved ones and peers, as that will be their role model.
problems require expertise with social solutions. Use your social worker or
educational program to learn and develop a parenting plan that reduces risks
while leaving relationships intact. Use your lawyer to write up the terms of
your agreement if necessary or to understand rights and obligations. If
matters continue to be contested, your lawyer can help you with the legal
Social workers, programs and lawyers each have a role. Use them all wisely and appropriately.
Still fighting child custody issues? Use this:
To track your child custody schedule, use this:
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org