CENTRE FOR MEDIATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION ONLINE

Knowledge Base

 
POST-DIVORCE  PARENTING WOES

August, 2015                      Dr. Lynne C. Halem, Director

 

 

The papers were signed. 

The divorce was granted

It was finally over; all the squabbling, all the tension, was put to rest

                       

                       ....Or so it had seemed, at the time the divorce was final. 

 

Yet for over fifty percent of the divorced population, returns to court are commonplace.  For an even greater percentage, the battle continues—sometimes over small things, other times over (seemingly) more significant issues; but in any case - for this group- a battle worth the fight.

 

Post-divorce conflicts are not limited to those who had bitter divorce battles, although clearly this population experiences the highest likelihood of returns to court and ongoing smoldering feuds.

All these questions can easily be multiplied.  Parents need only think of possible concerns that may surface over time, and so the questions keep coming.

 

Other disputes are not centered on one issueMore global in nature, they are aptly characterized as ongoing, lingering arguments centered on the care and upbringing of children.Seemingly petty disagreements still must be addressed. 

Indeed, professional advice on any of these subjects is by no means uniform and it is also true that intact as well as divorced couples often do not agree on household policies and child rearing tactics.  Yet when parents live in two homes, it becomes harder to reach consensus and discord can be compounded by the interactions and actions of significant others in each parent’s life, not to mention well-intentioned relatives and friends.  The inner circle is expanded, as far too many disagreements are blown out of proportion.  What can seem like a minor issue today, can easily escalate into a major problem tomorrow.

 

The consequences of post-divorce tension and feuds can be quite significant.  All too frequently parents engage in arguments, fueled by texting, emails, and voice mails.  The airwaves become inundated by the squabbles of well-meaning parents, each certain of the validity of his/her viewpoint. These ongoing fights cause pain, havoc, and often play out in the expenditure of major outlays of money for legal advice, representation, and court battles. 

 

Mediation offers an alternative to this continued saga of dissension.  It also offers an alternative to hiring a parenting coordinator, a court-appointed professional who oversees parental battles and orchestrates intervention strategies, including the determination of the appropriate action or inaction regardless of parental input.

 

Mediation requires parents to take responsibility for caring for their children. 

It encourages them to recognize, with the experienced assistance of a trained facilitator, that they are the only mothers and fathers these children will have, and that they owe their children a childhood in which they can always count on their parents for providing them with a safe and caring environment.  Given this mandate, parents must find a way to interact that will foster their children’s well–being, and help them to grow up to be responsible, caring adults.

 

This may seem to be a tall order for those who cannot resist engaging in fights regardless of how minor the issue, or for parents invested in a long-term battle even if the outcome is truly unimportant.   “Tall order” or not, few would disagree that the goal of collaborative parenting is worthwhile.  

 

Many might well say that this is unattainable, predictably placing the blame on their former spouse. It is “She/he who will not cooperate”,  “will not be reasonable” or “fair”.  This may of course be true.  Yet mediation calls on the best of each parent and aims to guide them together to see the benefit of collaborative parenting.

Failure to work as a team, even at arms length, is a defeat for the post-divorce family, a defeat that is unaffordable for all family members.

 

 

 



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