Article written by Nardine Collier
Family Lawyer Cairns & Alice Springs
Even though the family unit is no longer, it is still possible to have a happy ‘family’ after separation (it might even be a happier one!).
The key to a happy family, after separation- is good CO-PARENTING. I also think these tips apply to any family because as any parent/carer reading this article knows, it’s hard enough to parent at times, separated or not. Here are the five “C”’s to good co-parenting, noting that any reference to ‘parent’ is of course referring to anyone in a carer role.
#1: Conflict – getting rid of it
Children do not thrive after separation when parents are in constant battles with each other. A child who is caught up in the bitterness of their parent’s separation is at real risk of suffering psychological harm. I do believe good co-parenting does include conflict, but it is how parents go about managing and resolving their conflict that is all-important. I also believe it is good for children to know that Mum and Dad don’t always agree but they are able to discuss their differences of opinion in a good way. How is it possible to do this? See #2!
#2: Co-operation – A business-like relationship
Try looking at your co-parenting arrangement like a business relationship. You know that you can be in business with someone you don’t particularly like. You and your business partner might not be friends, but in a good business partnership chances are you treat each other civilly and with respect. You both have a common goal, making your business successful. Business partners will co-operate with each other for that common goal; leaving aside their personal feelings for the other person.
For separated parents your common goal is the happiness, stability, and future well-being of your children. Parents who can put aside their hurt and anger, and co-operate for the benefit of their child, can create happy kids even after separation and will be much happier themselves.
This is really the key to any successful relationship – good communication. Separated parents will need to work this out. HOW they will communicate? Face to face probably isn’t the best option all the time, so will it be by phone or text or email? There are a lot of new apps out there these days helping parents with communication, such as “Talking Parents”. Also work out WHY you need to talk, for what reasons. What decisions should you discuss jointly and what do you agree you can each decide on when the children are with you?
#4: Consistent parenting
This applies to all families separated or not. Children do best when they have consistency. For together parents this is a united front. For separated parents this means similar rules in each household – as to TV time, social media, jobs, bedtime, and so on.
Our wish for our clients here at Collier Family Law is that they can “Divorce with Dignity”. It is always a sad time but it doesn’t have to be soul destroying. It comes down to how parents choose to act and respond; whether they choose to act with consideration of each other, and mutual respect for each other’s role as parents.
Nardine Collier is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and has been mediating Family Law disputes for over 25 years. She is a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, a Family Law Arbitrator, a panel Mediator for various Australia wide organisations and for courts and tribunals. Nardine regularly mediates at Legal Aid conferences in Family Law, in Cairns and Alice Springs. She is also the Cairns Representative of the Queensland Chapter of the Resolution Institute of Australia.