When you are separated, it is often hard for parents to put aside differences between them – and understandably so, separation is not easy. But it is important to try and cooperate, to focus on what the children need.
John and Jenny have been separated for twelve months. They have two children, Victor aged 9 and Victoria aged 6.
To their credit, John and Jenny have a co-operative relationship in relation to the children’s welfare.
They had attended mediation to work out what parenting arrangements were in the children’s best interests.
John had also obtained some legal advice from a Family Law Specialist who endorsed the mediation process.
Although ideally they both wanted to parent the children on an equal shared parenting basis, it was clearly impractical. Jenny ran a busy pharmacy and worked long hours. John was a self-employed gardener. Since the date of separation the children lived with John and spent each second weekend with Jenny.
The children wanted to spend more time with Jenny. Both John and Jenny were aware of the children’s wishes.
”If we can’t have a shared parenting arrangement, is there some other type of arrangement which would give the children substantial time with Jenny?” asks John.
There is no standard for parenting of children. There is no real “normal”. Each family brings with it its own plan. Each child has his/her own needs. The Family Court is very aware of this. What works for one family may not work for another.
If Jenny is to spend more time with the children, she needs to organise her working life to be available for them.
Jenny wants to be a part of the children’s school life, not just their recreational time. Jenny proposes that the children spend time with her each alternate week from Thursday after school to Monday morning at the commencement of school. She has organised to work a half day on the Friday she has the children. In the other week, they spend time with Jenny each Wednesday and Thursday evening. This means that the children spend five nights per fortnight with Jenny during the school term.
This has the advantage of Jenny being a part of the children’s school life. She collects them from school on Thursday afternoon; takes them to and from school on Friday, and takes them to school on Monday morning. She has the opportunity of interacting with the teachers, the school program and participating in the children’s homework.
John thinks that this program will work. The mediator also endorses it. John’s Family Law Specialist is able to point out that the Family Court will endorse this type of program. The Family Law Specialist, drawing on years of experience, suggests that they have a trial period and possibly return to the mediator to iron out any problems.
Everybody has worked co-operatively. The mediator has played a role. The Family Law Specialist has played an important advisory role. John and Jenny are able to put aside their differences and concentrate on the interests of the children.
It would be fantastic for our children if this type of cooperation was more a reality than the subject of an article. An experienced Family Law Specialist can help in the process of co-operation to reach a positive plan for all involved.