Consider Including Grandparents In Divorce Mediation

The definition of “family” is continually evolving in British Columbia. That being the case, when a man and woman go though a separation, they should consider the implications their choices will have not only on their nuclear family but also on their extended family. If children are part of the family, the wishes of any living grandparents may need to be discussed during mediation. The concept of “grandparent’s rights” is currently under scrutiny in another province.

A New Democrat member of the Ontario Legislature has introduced a private member’s bill that seeks to ensure the courts in that province give grandparents the chance to be heard during custody disputes. It is estimated that some 75,000 grandparents in Ontario have been denied access to their grandchildren. This is not the first time this sort of legislation has been introduced in the province; six previous attempts have failed.

Experts on the subject believe that many grandparents can offer love and support to children who are experiencing the divorce of their parents. The stability they can provide may be beneficial to their grandchildren during difficult times. Unfortunately, many grandparents become pawns in the parents’ custody battles.

Family law in British Columbia allows for a grandparent to petition the court for access to grandchildren if denied by the primary caregiver. Former couples going through mediation, however, have the opportunity to provide for appropriate access right from the beginning — and without involving the courts. A representative from a family law firm may be able to assist men and women going through divorce to create places in their children’s lives for all those who care about them.

Source: CBC News Ottawa, “Grandparents push again for access to grandchildren in custody disputes“, Nov. 7, 2016

Mediation Puts The Future In Divorcing Couples’ Own Hands

Today’s divorcing couples have options that were unavailable not so many years ago. It is a sign of changing times and changing attitudes that concepts such as collaborative law and mediation are becoming routine considerations in British Columbia as alternatives to unpleasant litigation. For anyone considering taking this type of approach to a marital separation, here are some of the advantages that may be experienced.

By working through their issues via a mediator instead of in court, men and women divorcing have more control over their individual destinies. No outsider understands a couple’s unique problems better than themselves, and a mediator can help guide a man and woman in finding their own solutions. Tailor-made solutions may be more difficult to come by in a court of law.

Working together may be especially beneficial for couples with children. It is quite likely that a mother and father who have parented together have a good sense of what is best for their children. With that in mind, they may be able to arrive at an agreement that takes the feelings of everyone involved into account.

It has been shown that agreements made outside the courtroom tend to last longer than court orders do. This is probably because neither side will be likely to force their own solution in a mediated divorce. This leads to happier families spending less time and money in court, and spending more time together.

Family law in British Columbia is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of the people. Though a divorce is never an enjoyable process, some men and women may find comfort in knowing a less contentious path to a new life is available to them. The team of professionals at a law firm experienced with mediation can help make a civilized divorce a reality.

Using Collaborative Law to Shield Children from the Courts

There are two basic ways to go about settling a divorce: litigation, or alternative dispute resolution. For British Columbia parents that are separating, it may be preferable to choose collaborative law and avoid the courts when it comes to determining custody arrangements, whether during the actual divorce, or down the road if situations change. One former couple has found out recently how deeply into their personal lives the courts can reach.

The ex-spouses share custody of a son who is now 4 years old. The boy had been showing signs of a gender identity issue, and the mother eventually chose to support her son, allowing him to identify himself as a girl and wear girls’ clothing. Shortly after informing the child’s father of her decision, she was served with papers alleging that the boy’s issue was her fault, and that the father was seeking primary custody.

Once in court, a judge ruled in Dec. 2015, that the boy would henceforth be required to wear boys’ clothes only when he was in public. A second hearing in Feb. 2016, before a different judge, resulted in the upholding of the original ruling on clothing, plus custody was granted to the father. The mother was reduced to limited access to her son. And in Sept. 2016, a third judge amended the previous ruling, allowing the boy to choose the clothes he wanted from a selection of both boys’ and girls’ items.

Though this is an unusual example, this family now has their private business making news across the country. Having personal issues of any sort decided by the courts may feel highly invasive to families. For that reason, former couples that feel they can still reach an understanding may be better served by each securing the services of a British Columbia law firm experienced with collaborative law.

Source: CBC News Calgary, “Medicine Hat judges ordered 4-year-old not to wear girls’ clothes in public“, Colleen Underwood, Oct. 31, 2016

Keep Kids Out of the Courtroom with Collaborative Law

During divorce proceedings, or even long after a separation has taken place, former couples with children will strive to do what they feel is best for the kids. For British Columbia residents, this may mean using collaborative law to come to an agreement on custody arrangements and visitation rights. However, when ex-partners can’t agree on a solution, the case may be taken to court and left to a judge to decide.

In June 2015, a woman and her ex-husband were in court regarding their three children, 13, 10 and 9 years old. The exes had been fighting each other for about five years, and the woman was using her 16th lawyer, the man his fourth or fifth. The register logging all their hearings now stretches to 55 pages.

At the heart of a June 24, 2015 court appearance was the children’s refusal to visit with their father, despite a court order. Out of apparent frustration, the judge is alleged to have directed inappropriate language and abuse toward the children, even comparing the eldest child to convicted murderer and cultist Charles Manson. In the end, she sentenced all three children to 17 days in a juvenile detention centre.

Though this shocking case is certainly an exception rather than the rule, parents who fight over their children in court do risk exposing the kids to unpleasant situations and outcomes. If the option seems reasonable to both parties, it may be preferable to work towards a compromise with the help of a team experienced in collaborative law. Contacting a family law firm in British Columbia is a great place to start planning the best possible future for children after a divorce.

Source:, “Panel urges 30-day suspension for Oakland County Judge Lisa Gorcyca“, John Wisely, Nov. 15, 2016

Collaborative Law, Professional Help may be Best for Kids

Children will experience varying reactions to the divorce of their parents, according to a report published on Nov. 28 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The variables impacting those reactions include their degree of emotional development and age. Behavioural changes are common during the first year after a divorce or separation and may persist for as long as three years. The report goes on to say special occasions, like birthdays and holidays, may bring back the sense of loss, even years later.

The report suggests that parents consult with a pediatrician. Pediatricians are able to understand a child’s emotions based on their behaviour and may be able to shed some light for parents on what their children are feeling. Parents are further urged to keep an open dialogue with their children, and answer their questions honestly, in an age-appropriate manner. Maintaining routines, where possible, can also help a child adjust to the new family situation.

Doing what’s best for the children should be top of mind for all parents going through a divorce. One of the best ways of doing that is by making arrangements together instead of fighting over each decision. By working with lawyers who utilize collaborative law in British Columbia, it may be possible to come to a series of agreements that work for everyone involved.

Source:, “AAP Clinical Report Details How To Help Children Through Divorce, Separation“, Accessed on Nov. 28, 2016