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Parental Rights? Wrong…

I have countless parents come to me for advice in relation to parenting arrangements and many of them want to talk about their ‘rights’, whether it be their ‘right’ to have equal time, their ‘right’ to make decisions about health, education or religion or their ‘right’ to their children every Christmas.

The fact is that parents don’t have rights in our family law system. Children have rights, parents have responsibilities. The responsibility to act like an adult, play by the rules, pay your child support, be there for your children, ensure that your children continue to have the best relationship that they can with both of their parents.

And children have the right to believe that both their parents love them, that both of their parents are really great people and want what is best for them and will do everything they can for them.

While the consistent advice from family lawyers is to ‘stay focused on the children’, that can be a really tough gig when you’re right in the thick of a nasty separation. Anger, bitterness, resentment, fear, sadness and self-pity can easily take over and cloud the judgment of people who are otherwise great parents.

Taking a step back to try and see things from your children’s perspective…that is even harder. But it is SO important for the future emotional and psychological wellbeing of your kids to do just that. I often ask my clients, ‘how are the kids coping with the separation’ and one of the most common responses I get is ‘oh they’re ok, they’re pretty resilient’. Yes, kids are resilient to an extent, but they pick up on tension, anger and negativity very quickly. If you think that the snide comments or sarcastic remarks between you and your former partner in front of the children isn’t having an effect on them, you are sadly mistaken.

And you know what? While you might say to yourself that you are not the one to blame, or you are not the person causing the arguments, conflict takes two people, arguments take two people. The reality is that you are contributing in some way.

Asking for help can be the most difficult thing to do in a lot of circumstances, particularly in the context of a parenting dispute.But getting advice early on from a family law specialist, a psychologist or a counsellor can be extremely beneficial to both you and your children in the longer term.

Image Credit – Michal Bednarek ©

Written by Amelia Trotman on March 30, 2018

Experienced in all aspects of Family Law, Amelia has a particular interest in complex parenting and property matters, international relocation matters and surrogacy. Amelia's down to earth approach and empathetic nature allows her to develop trusting relationships with clients and work towards achieving the best possible outcomes. View Amelia's profile

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