Parental Separation Time For The Children To Pack Their Bags
I wonder what it would be like to pack my belongings every Friday and move house? I suspect I’d hate it. Not too many adults have this experience, but plenty of kids do. I think ‘Why?’ is a very fair question, and the longer I work with separating families, the louder the question is.
I don’t remember many situations where a parent said that equal time was the best thing for the children. I have heard parents say that they would miss their kids if they didn’t see them for equal time, that the kids might think that the other parent loved them more, or that they might have a perception that Mum or Dad didn’t fight for them. I have heard that it is the ‘right’ of the parent, that it is ‘fair’, and I have guessed at times that it was about child support, ‘getting even’ with the other parent, doing what the media says is normal, not wanting to let down friends and relatives who have said to fight for 50:50. I have met parents who have had very little experience with their kids’ day-to-day routines, who may have worked or played for long hours out of the home, have never taken the kids to school, don’t know what food they eat, what grade they are in, their teacher’s name or who the family doctor is. These parents often realize the limitations of their experience, and are willing to take things slowly, or acknowledge that their kids probably prefer to spend more time with the other parent. But, there are those who think that separation signals the time for them to do the impossible, and will insist on 50:50 as the right arrangement. They are often high conflict personalities (HCPs).
Child Psychologist Aid Relations With High Conflict Parent
The involvement of a child psychologist working constructively with parents allows for parent education and the voice of the child to be heard. They offer some hope of moving an HCP away from adversarial positions, because they are more likely than a non-psychologist professional to recognise what is driving the insistence on a particualr arrangement in divorce andd separation talks.
There are situations where one parent sees the pitfalls of the other having 50:50 or substantial care, and worries for the children. If that cannot be resolved by agreement or child inclusive work, and in the absence of danger, abuse and violence, one course can be to refrain from criticism and harsh comment, so that the other parent can later on step down from their position without losing face.
It would be great to see more media attention from the perspective of the child, and not the parents who speak of rights which they do not have. Under Australian law, only children have rights to spend time with a parent. That should be better known.
by Marguerite Picard, Family Divorce Lawyer