Separation, Divorce, Legal Separation
These are all words used to describe a relationship in transition or change.
Hi, my name is Bev Churchill. I have been practicing in the area of family law since 1986. I have seen, and been involved with couples and the choices that couples have been made to work through these transitions and changes in their relationships. I have seen very good choices which lead to very good transitions and changes and I have seen very bad choices that have lead to very bad transitions and changes.
I want to assist and guide my clients, and the couple for my mediation clients, to make the choices that will lead to the absolute best arrangements for the entire family.
The vast majority of my clients are parents with children. Impacts for parents and children occur when children are of any age. We expect to observe impacts on young children, but in my experience, impacts of relationship breakdown for children occurs for even adult children, as the foundation of the adult child is upset when their parents separate.
It is also important to remember that it is not only the immediate family of parent and parent and parent and child that is affected, there are extended family relationships that are also affected. The relationships between each child and each grandparent, each child and each aunt and uncle and between each adult and each mother in law, father in law, brother and sister in law. As a result, a separation and divorce affects the entire family. It is not simply the adults that transition during this time of change, it is the entire family; immediate and extended.
To me, family relationships are extremely important and can be very sensitive. The adults see their relationship as ending. Sometimes this is true, but in most separations and divorce, it is not ending. Some form of relationship will exist forever!
Because this relationship will likely continue forever, there are important questions that need to be considered. Questions, such as “How do we want our children to describe our separated relationship?”,”Can our children be in the same room with us if we are together without our children feeling uncomfortable?”,”Will our children need to make a choice as to which parent they will spend time?”, “Can we, as separated parents, attend special events for our children such as high school graduations, weddings, the birth of grandchildren, and share in the moment or do we need to have our children make up a schedule of who attends when and what?” These are some of the questions that are not always fully considered. Perhaps they should be.
There is also the relationship between each parent and each child. The child’s perspective on the separation of their family is not always considered by the parents or by others involved in assisting the family during this transition. It is not that the adults don’t consider their children. They, of course, love their children and want what is best for their children but, for most couples, this is their first separation and it is a significant event. They do not necessarily know what to do, what to say, or how to behave in terms of their spouse. In other words, they have questions, need assistance and guidance to make plans for this transition for their family, and the way that this transition will work for their family.
Over the years, I have also noticed that a lot of individuals are affected by what they see on television and in the movies, when they think about lawyers and the way that lawyers represent clients. I suppose that should not be surprising. We are all influenced by the media. However, lawyers are just people. All people are different. Television and movies do not necessarily portray the way all lawyers practice law and, in particular, family law.
It is the same for lawyers. All lawyers are different, and because we are different and have had different experiences in our lives, whether as children or as adults and, as family lawyers, we also experience what our clients experience during our client’s separations.
I have a lot of clients who comment to me “it must be difficult to practice in the area of family law” and “how do you keep your work life separate from your home life?”, “You must see a lot of sad situations, isn’t it hard not to have those situations affect your own family life?.
The reality is that we are all affected by our experiences in our lives. Those experiences make us who we are. We learn from those experiences. As we live through events, whether in our own lives or in the lives of those around us, those events become experiences, and during these events, we have choices to make. We can make choices that have as positive an impact on us and those around us as we can, or we can make choices that are not so positive and may be downright negative and detrimental. To me, this is the key, and is something that we need to continually strive to attain!
Okay, I have rambled on for a while now, but what I am trying to say is that I have seen and been through a lot with many clients over many years. I think I have seen just about everything. Nothing really surprises me anymore, and what I have learned, so far, is that:
1. There is almost always a way of looking on the positive side of a situation, although sometimes it is hard to find;
2. Individuals, if they think very much about this stage of their life, would want the transition to occur as positively and smoothly as possibly;
3. Individuals going through a separation and divorce are looking for guidance and assistance to help them through this transition.
I want to assist and guide my clients to make this transition in their family relationships as positive as possible. This is not to say that this experience is easy. It is not easy. It cannot be easy, as we are dealing with important, sensitive relationships that are going through transition. In my mind, it requires an approach that is selected to appreciate the important and sensitive nature of each relationship within the family.
There are several approaches that I believe can be used to work towards trying to maintain this balance, depending on what stage in the transition in which an individual may find him or herself. These include the following:
2. Mediation »