Couples and relationships: Married (but divorcing) with Children?Resolve to protect your children’s current and future psychological well-being by opting for mediation rather than litigation! In my practice as a psychologist and family mediator I see many couples who are either contemplation a divorce, in the throws of going through the process of getting divorced or who have gone through a separation or divorce quite some time ago and are still at loggerheads over aspects of care and contact of their children. Divorcing couples who truly prioritize the needs of their children will make sure that they make the children’s transition from living in a nuclear family scenario to splitting their time between their parent’s new households as smooth as possible. As hard as it may be to achieve, maintaining a respectful co-parenting relationship post-divorce is, in my opinion, the best way to guarantee that your children will not be harmed long-term by this major disruption in their lives. It becomes very difficult to maintain a constructive co-parenting relationship when the parties concerned resort to going the legal route in an attempt to resolve conflicts over maintenance and care and contact. When the parents no longer attempt to talk directly to each other but start to communicate through their lawyers, it is inevitable that the co-parenting relationship comes under serious strain with the build up of mutual animosity and mistrust, placing the children in the middle of a high conflict situation at a time when they are particularly vulnerable. In some unhappy cases the parents remain locked in perpetual conflict for years after a divorce. This of course is extremely costly, from a fnancial but, more importantly, from a psychological point of view. No child deserves to go through this type of experience! Therefore, I advise all parents who are contemplating divorce to seek couple counselling or mediation as a first option. In the Cape a list of accredited mediators can be found on the Family Mediators of the Cape (FAMAC) website at www.famac.co.za.
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