Separation – Safety Concerns for Parents
The Australian Institute of Family Studies has released research about safety concerns for parents after separation. In a study of 7,000 families, the good news is that for 60% of families, a friendly or co-operative parenting relationship was established. For 20% of families there were concerns about emotional abuse after separation, and alarmingly for another 20% of families, there were concerns about physical safety.
It is urgent that we address this problem. Provision of counselling support for both parents as part of the litigation system may help to identify and resolve the triggers for behaviour and perceptions about safety.
What seems to be missing from discussion about family violence is the effect that litigation has on family conflict after separation. Litigation does not provide an opportuntiy for people to understand anything of the other person’s experience; it does not provide an opportunity for people to be heard except as their experience is seen as being relevant to the litigation. Litigation does provide opportunities for people to say many hurtful and damaging things about each other.
In interdisciplinary collaborations, the harms from litigation do not occur. Collaborative practice has a better chance of supporting and helping people to manage separation than litigation will ever have. Litigation is a declaration of war. And we all know how that ends.
by Marguerite Picard, Family Divorce Lawyer, Melbourne, VIC