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