Post-Separation Parenting Arrangements – So What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

By Dr Brian Williams
Ph.D, LLB (1st Class Honours),
FDRP, NMAS Mediator
Principal – Premier Mediation Australia 
Post Seperation Parenting Agreements

Although post-separation parenting arrangements may be finalised in the first instance –  and look perfectly sound on paper – a multitude of challenges can later arise that erode the concept of ‘best interests of the child’. People constantly change and develop, and the world is dynamic, making it unsuited to arrangements that are totally static.

Although certainly not an exclusive list, some of these challenges could be:

  • Parents can re-partner, meaning that a child now needs to make a multi-family transition
  • Economic decline – changes in parental financial capacities
  • Health changes
  • Diminishing capacity of a parent to cope with care and parenting responsibilities
  • Stresses involved in changeovers
  • Lack of monitoring of a child’s activities
  • On-going conflict/arguments between parents
  • Dislocation of the child – constantly moving from one household to another
  • Changing needs and interests of a child – moving on from infant years to teenage years
  • Parental changes in employment, housing and location
  • Need for schedule changes due to unforeseen events
  • Need to accommodate new extra-curricular activities etc. etc. etc.

These types of factors indicate why it can be so important that parenting plans be monitored and updated if necessary.

Types of issues important to children

And even though the world and individual circumstances are continually evolving, we should never lose sight of our aim to always address the ‘best interests of the child’.

Whilst there are a multitude of issues that are important to children in situations involving family conflict, among the more prominent of these are:

  •  Where they will live
  • Who they will spend time with
  • Their physical safety
  • Their need to be protected from emotional and psychological harm
  • Their education/schooling
  • Their healthcare needs
  • Their developmental needs
  • Their right to have a connection with their culture, extended family and other support systems

Irrespective of the actual parenting arrangements or plans in place, a parent can also take some small but highly significant extra steps to enhance their child’s happiness. While building up a child’s resilience may be difficult when conflict is occurring, it can help to make them more healthy, hopeful, and equipped to cope with difficult situations.

Methods that can be employed include:

  • Help a child to maintain social connections by giving them opportunities to spend time with caring family and friends, and doing things they enjoy, such as hobbies and sports
  • Help a child to think positively, and to remember and focus on the good things in their life, such as the things they are good at and the things they like to do
  • Engender a child’s sense of self respect, helping them to understand that they should expect to be treated respectfully by others
  • Allow a child some independence, decision-making and control, appropriate for their age and developmental stage

Like To Know More?

If you wish to enquire further about these topics, or anything else related to Family Dispute Resolution and Family Mediation, please feel free to reach out and contact us. We are always happy to help:

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