Being a parent isn’t easy. When parents separate, they often find themselves in situations they haven’t experienced before. It is ok not to know what to do in every situation and sometimes as parents, we need guidance on what to do. There is no shame or guilt in that.
So here are a few Do’s and Don’ts when involved in a parenting dispute to help make co-parenting after separation that little bit easier.
Do get legal advice after a separation so that you can be informed of the legal options available to resolve your parenting matter.
Do find ways to create a healthy co-parenting environment for your child(ren). Communication may be the key to this ‘Do’ strategy. Being honest with the other parent and sharing information about the child(ren) with the other parent can help with consistency between the two (2) households so that the child(ren) transition better between the homes. If you cannot find a way to communicate effectively, it is the child(ren) who are negatively affected.
Do encourage the child(ren) to spend time with the other parent and promote a relationship with them. The Court is required to consider the benefit to the child(ren) of having a meaningful relationship with both parents. The Court will not look favorably upon a parent who does not encourage the child(ren) to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
Do try to come to an agreement amicably either between yourself, through mediation or through negotiations with lawyers. The best persons to make decisions about children are their own parents. Parents know their children best, not lawyers, Judges, or the Court system. Litigation is not always the best option.
Don’t denigrate the other parent to, in front of, or in the presence of, the child(ren). This can affect the relationship between the parents and the child(ren) and can also be used against the offending parent if the matter goes to Court.
Don’t ask the child(ren) to take sides. Research has shown that forcing children to take sides in a separation can cause long-lasting psychological damage. The separation and the reason for it should be kept between the adults.
Don’t tell untruths to your solicitor when getting legal advice. The advice you receive will be based on the information provided to them. If the untruths are uncovered later by evidence, it not only affects your credibility as a witness but also wastes your time and money when the matter could have been addressed from the very beginning.
Don’t be afraid of change. Separation may occur when your child(ren) are young and the care arrangements may need to cater to the needs of the child(ren) at that time, but as child(ren) get older often care arrangements change.