I listened to a fascinating program on CBC Radio’s “Out in the Open” last week about divorce – how it has changed over the years and some of the realities “on the ground”. It was a very good episode, and I recommend that anyone who is contemplating a separation listen to it.
One segment caught my attention because I think it shows what many of us who are doing this work are seeing in increasing numbers. That is, many of us are seeing more and more clients who are no longer satisfied with the traditional notions of what “family” looks like after separation. Many come in to my office recognizing that the standard arrangements may not work and are willing to try new things, with the children as the focus of their decisions. They are recognizing that sticking to an access schedule of “every other weekend, and one overnight per week” is a “divorce-myth” which may not work for their family.
There are many reasons for this shift in perception. Most of what we think of as “standard” custody-access schedules were the product of an era where the primary caregiver mostly stayed at home and there was only one breadwinner in the family. The increase in two-income families also means juggling at least two work schedules, along with the normal (and usually hectic) childcare and after-school schedules. In addition, new research about the effects of separation on children have also contributed to the discussion about finding better arrangements for children. All of these reasons make it necessary for modern families to re-visit and look for what is good for their family and not be shackled to traditional notions of custody and access.
The collaborative process is uniquely suited to this type of work. Negotiations which depart from the standard legal model of parenting require openness, flexibility, and creativity among the parties and their lawyers. These qualities are generally promoted by the collaborative process and it is a good fit for those clients wanting “a new way to divorce”.
To listen to the CBC Radio segment: ”A new way of doing it,’ how a divorce couple with children became next door neighbours’, click here.