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Family First

Family First

Recent changes to the Divorce Act reinforce the best interests of the child, alternative conflict resolution as the first step and more collaborative approaches to parenting decisions.

While families do transition into life after divorce, every situation is unique. However, there is one goal the best-intentioned people always have in common, and that is putting their children first. Recent changes to the Divorce Act implemented on March 1st also underline the well-being of the children as the priority in all divorce-related decision making. Among these updates are changes that support more cohesive and respectful processes to ensure parents and professionals keep children’s needs above all other aspects of separation that might dredge up conflict. To better facilitate this collaborative approach wherever possible, finding dispute resolution outside of court is highly encouraged.

At Maes Divorce Consulting, we’re passionate about supporting families through every step of separation and divorce. Putting your children’s needs first is the driving force behind every decision we help you make. Based on our extensive experience and expertise, we understand that each family is different and the process to resolution requires unique solutions. Our custom approach to divorce mediation is all about bringing clarity to every aspect of this major life transition so you can make the best decisions around parenting, support and property division with your child’s needs at the heart of every action. Here are just a few of the ways these recent changes to the Divorce Act align with our goals at Maes Divorce Consulting.

Mediation first.

The Divorce Act now explicitly states that families seeking divorce must first attempt to settle their conflicts through alternative family dispute resolution processes outside of the courts. It lists the benefits to these processes as generally being faster and more affordable approaches to work through any issues that may come up. In particular, it describes that processes including dispute resolution and mediation are advantageous in creating better agreements where children are involved. The mediation process is a great way to help families develop and practice better communication skills for parents to resolve issues as they arise over years to come. Children also benefit from seeing their parents work together constructively in more healthy ways.

Child’s best interests.

A new section, “Best Interests of the Child,” places the child’s needs as the sole decision makers in parenting and contact orders, a sentiment that has always been the driving force of what we do at Maes Divorce Consulting. The Act also acknowledges that while each family is different, so too is each child. This will come into play in creating healthy parenting arrangements, where what’s best for one child, may not be best for another. Parenting arrangements will consider each child and their unique situation with priority given to each child’s safety, security and well-being. Age, maturity and temperament all come into play as influencers of the child’s coping abilities and need for a particular parenting style. Bringing clarity and shared understanding to parents, professionals, lawyers and judges, this section acknowledges that a child’s needs can change over time as they develop, and it takes this into account.

Keep conflict away from children.

Amendments require parents to shield their children from divorce and conflict related issues as they may come up. We’ve long known that it hurts our children when they are witness to conflict between their parents after separation and divorce, but it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment. The Divorce Act recognizes this but asks all involved to do their best for the sake of their children, as do we.

More collaborative language.

Changes to the Divorce Act include the language used throughout. It continuously reinforces the child’s best interests as the guiding force throughout the divorce process. We now see language that is more relationship and responsibility oriented. For instance, “parenting order” has replaced “custody order,” helping parents appreciate their time with their children as a responsibility and not a possession. It further drives this point to include decision making by defining “parenting time” as “the period during which an individual is primarily responsible for the child, including when the child is in school or daycare.” Parenting and contact orders will now include a parenting plan agreed to by both parents wherever possible. We recognize that in most cases, parents are in the best position to determine the best arrangements for their children and parenting plans help promote agreement within families.

We’re here to make this transition with you.

The Divorce Act now outlines the obligation for legal advisers to encourage alternative family dispute resolution processes. Our processes help get your family through this transition process in the smoothest, most effective and affordable way. Furthermore, we offer a more cohesive process that continuously reinforces putting your child’s best interests first. Fortunately, there is a greater number and quality of alternative processes available to divorcing parents today including mediation, negotiation and collaborative law. We are here to help families resolve issues as they come up while complying with the Divorce Act’s orders.

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For full Divorce Act information Click here.


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