Archive for April, 2011

Separation keenly felt during holiday periods.

I am mindful of how painful holiday periods can be for people who are separated or divorced.   Easter may be difficult, because it may have been a time when you were together as a family either away, or at home and public holidays are a reminder of the loss of the sense of family.  It can also be really hard when you are not with your children over a holiday period because your ex partner has them.  Many people in our divorce support groups experience this and talking it through together can make these times easier.  People have different ways of coping.  Some find booking themselves a few days away with a friend or simply organising lots of events to take your mind off it.  It is easy to ruminate on what your children may be doing or what your ex partner is doing.  Usually the predominant feeling is they are having an idyllic time and that everything is blissful.  This way of thinking just serves to make you feel more alone and left out of something and makes the sense of loss more painful.  However,  very often they are not having the incredible time that you imagine they are.  They are just having a normal time but it is the feeling of being on the outside that makes that difficult to imagine.  You have as much right to have a good time and to use the time to have a break yourself.  Separation is painful, but its more painful if you think of yourself on the outside and having no control.  It becomes less painful if you think of yourself as a whole person who is entitled to have good things too.  Taking steps to be in charge of your own life and time and reducing the time spent concerned about how your ex is doing, are good steps taken which will lessen your hurt.

Grandparents contact to children after divorce.

Sometimes a divorce can be so acrimonious that not only do children have reduced contact to the non resident parent but that contact is reduced altogether with that parent’s family.  Grandparents needlessly lose out here, but it is the children who are the real losers in this situation.  Those children who are lucky enough to have extended family are deprived of the value of this.  Grandparents who were good enough before the divorce are suddenly deemed to fall far short of good enough by the mother or father who is withholding the contact.  The anger and pain of separation is understandably unbearable.  It is sometimes described as an emotional tsumani.  No good parent sets out to harm their child or children, each parent truly believing that they have their child’s best interests at heart.  However, in the emotional turmoil, it is suprisingly easy to make decisions which do have a negative impact on children such as stopping grand parent contact.  Sometimes, it is the relationship with grandparents which allows a place away from the point of separation where children can express how they feel.  If it isn’t then it may simply be a place where children can have a break from witnessing their parent’s grief and heartache.  Not all grandparents have great relationships with their grandchildren, but those who do should have that relationship nurtured so that the children can understand fully all aspects of themselves and have a sense of familial continuity.

Mediation as an alternative to litigation.

Many people would applaud the idea of mediating as opposed to litigating if at all possible. It is significantly less costly, quicker and more peaceful than embarking on a court process where decisions and timetables are out of your hands. However, the new idea that all couples need to have a session of mediation before being allowed to engage in the court process sounds good in principle, but not necessarily in practice. Often one person wants to mediate and the other wants a battle. Just as it takes two to have a relationship, it takes two to mediate and both people need to be willing. Mediation is not a soft option, it should run parallel with the legal process and although lawyers get a bad press, they are invaluable in giving sound advice as to what is appropriate and what is not, when negotiating a settlement. Sometimes mediation is not the right forum for issues where one person is unwilling to negotiate, particularly where children are concerned. If a father or mother refuses to return the children after contact, no amount of mediating is going to change that parents mind and the advice and assistance of a lawyer will need to be sought and if necessary a court application will have to be made. Mediation is certainly a good alternative to unecessary litigation and many disputes and issues can be mediated. However, those that can’t will need to take some legal advice and try and acheive a satisfactory outcome through the court system. Fortunately, now there is an alternative to acrimonious litigation in the form of collaborative law. To find a collaborative lawyer go to