Home Page . Services / Contact Information . Parenting Articles . Separation/Divorce Articles . Video Clips . Links
A strength-guided, goal-oriented approach to the positive growth and
development of people and services.
Back to Separation/Divorce Articles
You may open and print this article as a one-pager
for handouts or use in a newsletter:
Help Sorting Out A Parenting Plan?
Separated parents need to sort out a plan for the ongoing care of the children. Most parents know this as determining child custody and access. However, these are now outdated terms, used mostly when settling disputes in higher conflict situations. Children develop best when parental conflict is kept to a minimum and the children are able to experience loving and meaningful relationships with both parents. For parents who cannot determine a parenting plan on their own, there are four main strategies:
works well for parents whose conflict is minimal. The issues are more
educational and service is directed at problem solving thus enabling the parents
to reach their own conclusions. In this regard, parents can learn about and
discuss various options for co-parenting and then determine between themselves
what is best for them and the children.
is recommended for parents who are in conflict, each taking a position with
regard to the parenting plan. They are unable to negotiate between themselves
without the discussion deteriorating and hostility rising. They need a
“go-between”, to keep them on track and the discussion appropriate.
Mediation can be helpful with low to moderate degrees of conflict. Depending on
the skills of the mediator and resolve of the parents, mediation can also work
in high conflict situations. Depending on the issues at hand, a mediator with
training and knowledge of child development and family issues may offer input or
direction to guide the process of negotiation. In the end, parents remain in
control of the outcome.
Collaborative Law, both parents have their own lawyer and all negotiations take
place in four-way meetings – meetings where both lawyers and both parents are
present. Parents and lawyers enter into an agreement to settle matters without
the threat of court. All agree that the lawyers used in the Collaborative Law
process cannot represent the parents at court. Collaborative Law is currently
practiced in two formats. One includes a multi-disciplinary team with members
from mental health and financial planning and the other form opts to deploy
those professionals on an ad-hoc basis. Collaborative Law is a newer approach to
resolving separation disputes so there is no research on how well the approach
works or for whom it is best suited. Drawing upon parallels to mediation, it is
likely that Collaborative Law is suited to persons who need to know their
respective rights are protected by someone fully representing them and where the
conflict between the parents is likely moderate to high.
involves each parent represented by a lawyer, settling their dispute with the
threat of or actual intervention of the Court – a trial, where the outcome is
determined by a judge requiring mandatory compliance by the parents whether they
like it or not. Litigation is generally observed in the highest of conflict
situations. In these disputes, the parents often have mutually exclusive
positions. They are unable to find common ground to satisfy both positions.
Conflict and hostility are highest in groups of persons using litigation to
resolve a parenting plan. Parenting plans are more often resolved by assigning
one parent control of all decisions and the other parent, visitation rights.
This is where the terms custody and access come into play and where there is the
greatest threat to the well-being of the children owing to the conflict between
above approaches can be seen as a continuum of services available to help
parents resolve matters. As conflict rises, more intrusive forms of support or
intervention are required. Costs rise as conflict rises and more intrusive
services are required.
When parents remain civil and the situation is not inflamed unnecessarily, conflict can be minimized and disputes may be resolved with the least disruption to the children and at lower cost to the parents.
Still fighting child custody issues? Use this:
To track your child custody schedule, use this:
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org