What are some of the biggest challenges for couples who are separating or who have separated?
Separation, divorce and family law present so many challenges for parties. Below is some information for you to consider.
For parenting matters:
Re-defining the new relationship
You are no longer a couple, but you are a parent of a child who needs the most important people in their world to be as "good" as possible.
The way you were when you were together, does not automatically continue now that you are separated. Most parents haven't spoken about or agreed on what the new expectations and boundaries will be in their different kind of relationship now moving forward. CHOICE Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation offers an opportunity to discuss this in a helpful and safe way.
What kind of co-parenting relationship are you hoping to achieve?
You will need to work with your child's parent for a very long time yet. What would you want your child to reflect back on when they think about their experience after your separation?
Your child needs to see, hear, and feel that you both are able to talk and work together about them with as little conflict, awkwardness, and tension as possible. It is that type of environment that can profoundly impact your child's experience. It is also possible that your child might even think they are the problem.
You might have very different styles and opinions about how to raise your child. Now more than ever, you have a CHOICE to work together for your child's sake.
You don't have to parent the same way, you don't have to agree on each other's styles, but nevertheless, show your child you are still a united front so that your child can have consistency and stability and the added bonus, they won't be able to play you off each other.
Trying to maintain a "functioning" co-parenting relationship is so difficult when there is prolonged, bitter and unresolved conflict between you. Children can learn to cope with the separation - what they often cannot cope with is ongoing conflict and tension between the two people they love more than anything.
Children start to learn that they are better off saying, not saying, or doing things that they think won't upset their parents. Children learn to start keeping secrets - sometimes because they think a parent wants them to.
Children just want to love you both in front of you both. Children maintain hope that everything will be OK and maybe get back to "normal".
Often parents are so consumed in their conflict, that children feel that they are basically forgotten because when they are with the parent, the parent is often focussing on the other parent.
Are you making it easy for your child to love you both?
For property settlement matters:
Validation and Acknowledgement
Issues of mistrust, not feeling validated and acknowledged for what you have contributed over the course of your relationship and what your needs are moving forward, are some of the big challenges with this part of the conversation. This can be a very significant change for all parties. For some, it is very daunting. Setting up a new life as a sole parent, having to consider the possibility of re-training, or establishing some kind of foundation to help build a new way forward.
It is critical that parties obtain sound legal advice about how the law can be applied to their situation. Come into a mediation prepared and willing to consider both sides, but most importantly, having an idea of what you can live with to then move forward..
It's all about the principle
Dealing with "it's all about principle" versus "can we just sort this out so we can move on?".
This type of thinking can often hinder a successful resolution within mediation.
How far are you prepared to push to get what you want? Why is that important to you?
Make sure you are clear about what you could be entitled to.
Don't just concede or given in out of fear or ignorance. Come into a mediation informed and now you actually don't have to concede. However, you can agree if you have reached that position in a voluntary and informed way.
It's not about being right... it's about finding a place that you can live with?
Reaching a financial resolution that you can live with and be at peace with. 300 lawyers will give you 300 different opinions. The Court will give you its opinion if you cannot find a resolution you both can agree on. Just make sure you take the time to get all the information, Full and Frank Disclosure, and have a helpful conversation.
This process is not about reconciling with your former partner, and it also isn't about counselling. What this process can do though is help you both to have a meaningful, controlled, and helpful conversation about not only your own needs, but the needs of your children, and to finally reach a point that you both can live with so that you can move on with your lives.