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4 Ways to Support Your Child’s Adjustment to Co-Parenting

The initial step to becoming a competent co-parent is to put your child’s needs ahead of your own. Research shows that children who had close to equal time with both parents grew up to have higher self-esteem and fewer trust issues. Even if your parenting time agreement specifies a 70/30 time split between homes, for example, consider balancing it out for the long-term psychological well-being of your children.

Your child can benefit from your guidance, as he/she doesn’t have the wisdom, insight, and clarity to make decisions about spending time with both parents. Try to encourage your child to spend time with their other parent. Kids are sensitive to body language and unkind words, so make sure your tone and words are positive or neutral when discussing your ex-spouse with or in front of your child.

Help Your Child Transition Between Homes

Moving from one house to another can be stressful for a child after their parents’ divorce. At times, a child may balk at the prospect of leaving one home and spending time with their other parent. This doesn’t mean your child loves the other parent any less or wouldn’t ultimately benefit from spending more time with him or her. Instead, the reticence to transition is a natural response of a child who is seeking security.

It’s crucial that you and your ex create a schedule that lessens the likelihood that your child will experience divided loyalties because they may feel like they have to choose sides. When both parents work together to determine schools, activities, social calendars and all the other aspects of the child’s life, it fosters a cohesive daily experience for the child, no matter whose house they are at on a given day.

The key to helping your child feel secure is to help them anticipate the transitions between their two homes. Remind kids ahead of time that they will be spending time at their other home. You can even ask the other parent if they’ve made certain plans for the child, so you can say, “Mommy is planning on taking you to church Sunday” or “Daddy is helping at your school on Thursday.” This helps your child anticipate the change and gives them something to look forward to at their other home. Attempt to show genuine enthusiasm about their visit with their other parent, just as you do when you take a child to kindergarten or when you deliver kids for a week at grandma’s house.

Loyalty Conflicts

Even though children don’t cause their parents’ divorce, kids often feel responsible for their parents’ happiness. In some cases, they might side with one parent against the other parent, which can cause alienation or even estrangement. In What About the Kids? Judith Wallerstein cautions us that a serious problem exists when a child and a parent of either sex joins forces in an alignment against the other parent’s lifestyle, values or identity.

Modeling cooperation and polite behavior sets a positive tone for co-parenting. One of the many ways to avoid alienation is to recognize that your ex is your child’s parent and deserves respect for that reason alone. If your child hears you express doubts about the other parent, it can have a detrimental impact on them emotionally because they will feel that they are in the middle.

4 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Spend Time with Both Parents

  1. Remind your kids a few days before the transition that they will be spending time with their other parent (if they are under the age of ten). This helps them anticipate the change and gives them an opportunity to adapt.
  2. Attempt to set routines for daily life at each home. Try to discuss this with your ex to maintain consistency in both houses if possible for mealtimes, bedtimes, etc.
  3. Plan ahead and help your child pack so they are bringing important possessions with them to the other home.
  4. Don’t bad-mouth your ex. If your child hears you make negative comments about him or her, it can have a detrimental impact on them. Promote a positive bong between your ex and your child. Put your differences with your ex aside and show some interest in what they do together. For example, you could say, “I hope you had fun skating with your dad.”

Finally, be sure to focus on rebuilding your own life and not any negative feelings you have toward your ex-spouse. While you may be still grieving your divorce, keeping your differences with your ex away from your child will open up opportunities for him or her to heal from your divorce.

In the years to come, how do you want your child to remember you? It’s possible to hinder your child’s development by holding onto past grievances toward your ex-partner. By providing loving encouragement or being neutral about the other parent, you can help make adjusting to post-divorce life easier for your children. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they have an easier time adjusting to their parents’ divorce.

Story via ~ www.divorcemag.com

An introduction to divorce

Are you considering divorce, or have you recently been served divorce papers? If so, then let us clarify a few things for you. From contested to uncontested, this post will help you to understand the valid grounds for filing a divorce in Canada

The Act of Getting a Divorce in Canada

When a marriage is over the only way to legally end your relationship is to be granted a divorce. In Canada it is not required that both parties want their marriage to end in order for a divorce to be granted. It is only necessary that one party prove that the marriage has broken down and can not be repaired. The process of proving that a marriage has broken down is quite often referred to as “Grounds for Divorce”. We will explain the valid grounds for divorce in Canada, further down this page.

Throughout Canada every divorce is governed by the Federal Divorce Act. However, each province will vary on the specific documents and procedures used for their individual jurisdiction. This is just one of the reasons that it is best to contact a lawyer focusing on family law, when seeking a separation or divorce. A local lawyer will be familiar with the Family Law Act and all of the procedures in your province or jurisdiction. They will review your personal circumstances and then explain all of your obligations during a divorce, as well as ensure your rights are fully protected.

Types of Divorce

In Canada there are two types of Divorce; a Contested Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce.

Contested Divorce: In a Contested Divorce spouses do not agree. Their disagreements can be about the divorce itself, or about the terms of the divorce. (Terms such as: custody, access, support and property/debt division.) In a contested divorce lawyers must be retained and the courts must intervene.

Uncontested Divorce: In an Uncontested Divorce both spouses do agree and have signed a separation agreement to resolve all issues surrounding their Divorce. Issues such as: custody, access, support, property/debt division etc. Also, both parties want to proceed with ending their relationship and agree to the Divorce itself.

In most cases Uncontested Divorces proceed faster and are much less stressful and costly then Contested Divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Canada

Under the Divorce Act there is only one valid reason for a divorce and that is “Marriage break down” It is necessary that at least one party prove that the marriage has broken down and can not be repaired. Currently there are three acceptable grounds which are used to prove this breakdown.

They are:

  • Adultery – One or both partners committed adultery by having sex with someone else during their marriage. After the adultery had occurred, and was discovered, the act was not forgiven, or the couple did not live together for more the 90 days.
  • Abuse/Cruelty – Your spouse has been physically or mentally cruel and/or abusive to you.
  • Separation – A period of no less then one full year has passed where you and your spouse have lived separate lives.

Who can apply for a Divorce in Canada?

In order to apply for a Divorce in Canada you must meet the following criteria:

  • You were legally married. This can be in Canada or in any other country;
  • Either or both of you have lived in a Canadian province, or territory, for at least one year immediately before applying for a Divorce
  • You intend to separate permanently from your spouse and believe that there is no chance you will get back together, or you have already left your spouse and do not intend to get back together.

What is your next step?

If you are considering a divorce, or if you have been served with divorce papers, it is always best to speak with a lawyer. We will review your case, guide you through the entire process and ensure your rights are fully protected.

Parenting rights for LGBT & how the Family Law Act applies

The Family Law Act (FLA) contemplates a variety of ways that people can be parents.  There was a lot of work put into this part of the FLA and it had a lot of input from the LGBT community.  The goal of the FLA is to contemplate a variety of parenting arrangements and provide for parenting ‘rights’ for all people involved in a child’s life – regardless of how they come to be involved.

Part 3 of the FLA is where to begin when considering who is a parent of a child.  Part 3 provides a wide variety of scenarios where a person can be the parent of a child – whether that child is born through assisted reproduction (during the life and death of either of the donors), through adoption and through surrogacy. The FLA also captures the non-donor partner in a lesbian or gay couple (where one partner has either donated the sperm or the egg) as a parent in the wording of the various definitions of a parent.

Interestingly enough, Part 3 starts at paragraph 20, however parentage as the result of a traditional relationship is not contemplated until paragraph 26!!!  I think this is an interesting reflection on the different realities of parenting  in our society today.

Determining who a parent is under the FLA is very important because only parents are guardians of minor children.  This is important because only guardians of a child can have parenting time with a child and exercise parenting responsibilities with regards to a child.  Section 41 of the FLA details what parenting responsibilities are (this is not an exhaustive list – they never are!).  Parenting responsibilities including making the day to day decisions about where the child lives, who the child lives with, making medical decisions relating to the child, applying for a passport for the child etc.

So, to break it down – in order to have a say in the day to day decisions of the child that you have with your partner (same sex, common law – whatever), you need to be a guardian.  In order to be a guardian, you need to be a parent.  So … the rights of anyone, whether they are in a traditional heterosexual relationship, whether they are in a homosexual relationship or whether they are the surrogate of a baby can all be determined by figuring out first if you qualify as a parent under part 3 of the FLA.  There are no different rights afforded to heterosexual couples under the FLA and the goal of the FLA was to be more inclusive of all parents, regardless of what their relationship with the child’s other parent looked like.

Upon the breakdown of a relationship under the FLA, parental rights are the same regardless of what the relationship looked like.  If you are a parent of a child – you are the guardian of that child and therefore have a right to parenting time and the exercise of parenting responsibilities.  Here’s hoping that this affords everyone who has a relationship breakdown the same protections and rights to continue their relationship with their children.

Paule Seeger B.A. LLB