Separation is an undoubtedly stressful time for spouses. When children are involved, the law requires that their best interests be placed first. Parents need to realise that their separation is equally as or even more stressful for their children. Therefore, putting the children in the middle of spousal conflict not only increases the children’s stress but it can also leave a damaging impact on the children in the long term. Care needs be taken to prioritize the children’s well-being and make decisions that are in their best interests.
What steps can I take to ensure my children are okay?
Making the switch to co-parenting can be daunting, especially taking into consideration that you are still working out separation terms with your spouse. Make every effort not to take things out on your children, involve them in conflict, or disparage their other parent in their presence. If you end up in court, the court does not look favorably at such behavior.
To minimize the impact on your children, it is important to take every available step to reduce potential conflict and adopt a resolution approach, which is what we aim to do. This may not always be easy, as some things may be beyond your control. You can take advantage of resources such as the court-mandated parenting after separation course, available online. If you are located in B.C., the course is available here.
A parenting agreement setting out the terms of your co-parenting relationship can also be reached. When in written form with the advice of a lawyer, this agreement can be legally enforceable. Contact us to find out more on parenting agreements.
What if we are unable to agree?
Parenting disputes can either be resolved by engaging the services of a parenting coordinator, negotiating through your lawyer, family mediation, or in the event these options are unsuccessful, engaging with the courts. It is important to note that the primary consideration of the court in parenting and access decisions is the “best interests of the child” and not the convenience or preferences of the parents. It is also crucial to note that while the court considers the best interests of the child, the court also considers it in the interests of a child to have a relationship with both parents. Hence, even though you were the parent primarily responsible for the children during a spousal relationship and are continuing in this role, some degree of access may be granted to the other parent. Also, if after the breakdown of a spousal relationship a parent would like to become a more actively involved parent, the court may order a shared parenting arrangement.
In addition, parents may not be in any kind of relationship other than as parents. This can bring different challenges. The guiding principle remains the same “the best interests of the child”.
We can assist with canvassing the parenting arrangement that is in your child’s best interest either through negotiation or before the courts. Give us a call today, we can help.