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 and the parenting columnist for the
Hamilton Spectator. His book, Marriage Rescue is due out in spring 2013. 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
Contact Gary Direnfeld
Just to be clear: Family Court Doesn’t Resolve Conflict
Parents turn to the court thinking a Judge will settle matters and life will be peaceful thereafter. This is far from the truth.
Separated Parents and the Continuum of Conflict
Not all parental separations are alike and not all parental separations spell disaster for their children. The social science research advises that the most salient factor in determining risk for poor developmental outcomes for children subject to parental divorce is the level of conflict between the parents.
Differentiating Between Mediation, Med/Arb and Parenting Coordination
There are only so many options available for separated parents to settle their parenting disputes in a way that minimizes lawyer involvement. Chief among them are: Mediation; Mediation/Arbitration (Med/Arb); and Parenting Coordination.
The Real Christmas Gift for Kids
Even though parents argue as to the best residential schedule, choice of school, faith, holiday time, Christmas and extra-curricular activities, these issues are simply not as predictive for the wellbeing of children as conflict alone.
Five Sure-Fire Signs You Need Couple Mediation
It can be difficult to know if your relationship would benefit from going to see a mediator. This author offers five suggestions for examining your relationship to see if it's time to schedule an appointment with a mediator.
This article explains some of the specifics of the collaborative process for divorcing couples. It discusses who will be involved and who is subject to the collaborative policies.
Forget Harmony, Settle for Peace
An oft-common mistake working with high conflict separated parents is to move them towards getting along and working cooperatively for the well-being of their children. It is a lofty and noble goal unfortunately far beyond the grasp of folks who would likely prefer to see the other disappear for a more immediate and permanent solution to the conflict. The more they are pushed together, the more intense the conflict.
Someone Really Really Difficult to Get Along With?
Most people get along with others. There might be the odd bit of friction between a person or two, but for the most part, most people get along. There is a sub-group of people however, that don’t seem to get along with almost anyone. These persons tend to project blame onto others for their conflict and may also cause others to feel guilty for not meeting expectations in the relationship.
Imagine... A Collaborative Approach To Divorce
There is a movement in family law whereby divorcing couples can sign agreements with lawyers to not go to court. More specifically, the process is known as Collaborative Family Law (CFL) and the agreement to not go to court is binding upon the lawyers, not the couple. If one or both clients are unsatisfied, either may still march the dispute to court. They will however have to find new lawyers.
Build Rapport to Facilitate Teen Behaviour
When the relationship is spiraling out of control and parents find themselves at their wits end, the challenge is to rise above the animosity in favour of rebuilding the relationship. Harsher, more restrictive consequences will not bring the teen “under control”. Slowly and deliberately practicing rebuilding strategies can rekindle the relationship through which the parents may find increased influence to provide direction and guidance as opposed to “control”.
Who Started It Doesn’t Necessarily Matter!
Sitting between parents in a high conflict situation with regard to custody and access issues is like watching the scarecrow in the Wizard of OZ. However, with separated parents they are both pointing at each other, each blaming the other for initiating and maintaining their conflict. In many instances, both have contributed to their mutual conflict and hence both feel justified at incriminating the other. Regardless of who started it, in many instances it is clear, they both maintain it. As a concept this is known as circular causality.
Are you thinking of MEDIATION to settle a parenting dispute?
Whereas in court the parents are bound by the decision of the judge, in mediation the role of the mediator is to help parents communicate and determine their own solution to the parenting of the children – a mutual agreement.