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13 Services for Peacemaking over Litigation for Separated Parents

October 2, 2015

Staying current, relevant and responsive to client’s needs is an ongoing practice.

In today’s world, parental conflict has taken on new meaning and new heights. Whereas in the past when direct communication failed to produce agreements, people were apt to run to litigation. Over the course of litigation it was common that most matters would settle before the court rendered a decision. Even if a court rendered a decision, in the past, people were apt to lick their wounds and move on.

In today’s environment, while most matters still do settle prior to a decision made on one’s behalf, the litigation process has become far more contentious and far more combative. To add, in today’s world, litigation and a final decision if provided, does nothing to end conflict, but more to the point, only sets the parties up for another round of fighting when the dissatisfied party seeks to undo a perceived wrong. Nowadays, the courts are tied up with repeat complainants and those attached to the case are thrown into the mix of matters to complain about. No more moving on, but finding ways to get even.

The challenge is in finding or developing creative processes to help separated parents find or make peace with regard to the care of children between them. Please note, this doesn’t necessarily mean parents ever liking each other, but at least finding a way to reach a livable agreement and move on with their lives in the interest of their children. The goal is to find a an agreement that may end the viscous cycle and the never-ending  conflict.

To that end I have retooled my services to provide those aimed at facilitating peace between separated parents. As such, all my services are closed, meaning that what ever is discussed cannot be used for court or arbitration purposes. This doesn’t mean that parents will necessary meet with success in all cases, but they can have the opportunity to do so. Even when matters do not settle fully, at least in attending alternatives to court, some matters may settle thus narrowing the issues left over if entering a litigation process. You can have fewer matters to fight about.

I have developed a suite of services to help parents at different points along the separation process, from contemplating a separation, to figuring out what to tell children, to sorting out one’s parenting plan and even to take stock of options for resolving matters at any point in whatever process a parent is involved with. Many parents don’t realize that just because a litigation process has begun, it doesn’t mean you can’t use these alternatives even at the same time. To quote John Lennon, you can always, “Give peace a chance”.

Please feel free to explore each service. If you are a service provider yourself, please feel fee to use any of my approaches in your own work. If you have a suggestion or comment to add or improve upon a service, please feel free to let me know.

How we help others is always an evolving process. Here are my current 13 services to help facilitate child-adjustment and parental co-parenting for separated parents.

  1. Counselling: Specifically regarding children of separated parents
  2. Pre-Separation Consultation, Thinking of Children: Figure out what to tell your children and start planning your separation
  3. Closed Single Session Consultation – 1 three-hour meeting to review your situation and discuss options, particularly useful if other negotiations have stalled.
  4. Mediation: Resolving on-going parenting after separation or divorce
  5. Closed Custody/Access Single Session Impartial Consultation: Help in a single day to resolve as many parenting matters a possible and perhaps all parenting matters with lawyer support.
  6. Clinical Evaluative Consultation: Child Custody and/or Access assessment without court….
  7. Separation Coach to Facilitate Settlement and Co-Parenting: Learn strategies to manage with the other parent.
  8. Mediation/Arbitration: This is a hi-bred service to help facilitate agreements or impose decisions in the absence of consensual settlement.
  9. Parenting Coordinator: An alternative to turning to the Courts to settle parenting disputes as they arise, but with a pre-existing agreement or order already in place.
  10. Assessment Critiques: When you think the assessment doesn’t measure up…
  11. Collaborative Family Practice: Support to facilitate the separation/divorce process..
  12. Screening for Arbitration
  13. Brief Consultation for Family Lawyers

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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