Legal information and insight from Edmonton lawyers

Kids' Draw their Parents' Separation

Much medical and psychological research has been done regarding how children's brains develop. There is now a wealth of scientific information that proves the conflict of divorce or separation hurts kids. Parents may think they are keeping their conflict to themselves, but kids are extremely perceptive, Kids take on much of the anger and hurt their parents show. This can cause real emotional and physical consequences and impact health even into adulthood.

The law has evolved to take this into consideration. The court's only concern in custody or parenting disputes is the best interests of the children. If one parent is unfriendly or speaks badly about the other to the children, the Court can actually change or restrict that parent's time with the children. At all times, children should be protected from conflict and adult-talk about legal issues.

Postcards from Splitsville

Kara Bishop of Divorce Recovery in Arizona created an art project where children of divorce could draw and send in postcards about how their parents' separation made them feel. The result was a powerful view into the hurt children experience when their parents separate with conflict.

All the images shared were created by kids ages 10 to 12. "These tiny little beings have their world rocked and their whole idea of what family is shatters," says Bishop. "You see that in the pictures."

Children rarely have a voice in their parents' disputes. This project allows kids to express themselves. What we often learn from actually listening to the children themselves, is that they love both their parents and just want everyone to be happy. It is important to remember children see the issues far differently than their parents. What parents believe is most important may not actually be what is important to the children, or in what is in their best interests.

While few separations occur with zero conflict, how parents deal with their disputes is well within their control. Focusing on respect, cooperation and the best interests of children, parents can escape the toxic nature of high conflict separations.

How to do Better

There are many resources available to parents to help navigate through a separation in a healthy way.

In Alberta, the Parenting After Separation course provides helpful tools for newly separated parents. This is a free, online course provided by the government (and is mandatory in court matters). Similar courses focusing on High Conflict matters and Communication skills are also offered. Parents can take these courses together or separately.

Parents can also engage professionals to help them with parenting disputes. Options include parenting coordination, family counseling and alternative dispute resolution for legal matters. Rather than fighting in court, parents can learn to communicate more effectively, get help from support services and complete the legal aspect by agreement.

Mediators and lawyers can assist in negotiations on legal matters and turn agreements into legally binding contracts and court orders. All legal matters can be resolved through negotiation and agreement, some processes just work better than others in reaching those agreements.

At Kinetic Law, we offer family mediation and Collaborative law services. For more information on these low-conflict solutions, visit our Alternative Dispute Resolution page.

[The Huffington Post provides a summary on the Splitsville project and a short gallery of some of the postcards. It appears Bishop's website has closed down since 2011, though the postcards remain telling.]

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Struggling with a new separation?
Want to avoid a high conflict legal battle?
Need advice on parenting rights and decision-making powers?

Our lawyers specialize in family law and have extensive experience with custody and parenting matters. At Kinetic Law, we focus on what is best for your family. We seek resolution, not retribution. There is life after divorce, and it is our mission to help our clients get through to the other side with as little stress as possible. For more information, contact us.

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Kids Separation Divorce Drawings

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