Strategies to Promote Peaceful Co-Parenting

The effect of separation and divorce on children can be complicated, especially when parental conflict is involved. By working together towards finding mutually beneficial solutions, families can move forward in the healthiest way possible.

Divorce is hard, especially on kids. Learn how to minimize conflict and find solutions that fit the entire family.

Prioritizing Peaceful Parenting

When parents end a marriage or common-law relationship, the primary focus is typically directed at how to best care for their children. Given the emotional nature of a separation or divorce and the reasons that may have served as a catalyst, resolving issues and conflicts concerning children can often become contentious.

Most parents can agree that keeping the best interest of their children at the forefront of a separation is imperative. With that being said, it can be difficult to see eye to eye, especially as discussions lead to more complicated topics.

Putting Children First

According to Canadian law, the best interests of a child must always come first. With that in mind, guidelines have been implemented so that regardless of martial or relationship status, parents fulfill their duties to care for their children. Both the federal Divorce Act and the provincial Family Law Act endeavour to ensure that children are protected.

While navigating a separation or divorce is difficult for adults, it can be even more complicated for children. Often lacking the necessary degree of maturity to fully grasp the concept of a relationship ending, they may feel hurt, confused, or frightened by the change in their family's dynamic. Witnessing conflict between parents increases the stress that a child may feel, making it important to prioritize working towards finding a mutually beneficial solution in a way that minimizes contention.

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is an agreement that outlines how separated or divorced parents intend to care for their children. One of the goals of a parenting plan is to provide clear instructions related to various challenges and events that may arise in order to mitigate future conflict. Children may also benefit from the consistency and predictability that a parenting plan can provide.

Some of the questions to consider when creating a parenting plan include:

- How the parents intend to make big decisions about their child concerning education, health care, and other important issues

- Who the child will live with and how to manage a schedule around this

- Where a child will spend birthdays, holidays, and summer vacation

- How to proceed should one parent decide to relocate

- How to manage conflict regarding parenting issues or decisions

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Peaceful Parenting

Despite what many people are led to believe, there are ways to handle separation and divorce without relying on the court system. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can provide families with the support that they need to manage difficult situations while remaining focused on reducing stress and saving time and financial resources. When drafting a parenting agreement or handling other parenting-related issues, there are several forms of ADR that may prove useful.

· Mediation- an experienced mediator acts as a neutral third party and helps both parents work towards finding practical, workable solutions that take into consideration the child's best interests

· Collaborative law- each spouse has their own lawyer but works together to reach an agreement

· Arbitration- Instead of relying on a judge, a couple will rely on a neutral third party to make a decision regarding their situation

Getting the Right Support

Moving through the separation or divorce process can be stressful and complicated, especially when there are children involved. A family lawyer who has experience handling parenting-related issues can provide invaluable support and the right guidance to help make the sound decisions. From ensuring that a parenting agreement is fair and valid to providing representation in court if need be, having skilled legal help is critical.