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					                                                          o   Pre-existing mental disorder
                                                          o   Criminal activity or history
                                                          o   Overly passive, docile personality disposition
                                                          o   Overly dominant, aggressive personality
Family Professional Support Through the
Separation/Divorce Process
                                                          o   History of parental domestic violence, child
                                                              abuse, parental alcoholism (from one’s family
It is almost a given that people enter into co-
                                                              of origin when a child)
habiting relationships, particularly marriage
                                                          o   Domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism
expecting it will be long lasting, if not forever-
                                                              within current family
lasting. Thus when a breakdown occurs, there is
                                                          o   Alcohol consumption greater than 6 standard
at least upset, disappointment and
                                                              beverages weekly or more than 5 standard
disillusionment. In view of same, some might
                                                              beverages per occasion, at least once per month
argue that it would be of benefit to the parties,
                                                          o   Recreational drug use/abuse
subject to the separation or divorce to obtain at
                                                          o   Extra-marital affair
least emotional support to facilitate the
                                                          o   Cold, uncommunicative behaviour
separation process.
                                                          o   Conflicting religious beliefs
                                                          o   Restrictive beliefs, social or religious practices
Now imagine you are child whose parents are in
                                                          o   Job loss(es)
the throws of a separation. Children are not only
                                                          o   Learning disability (parent or child)
subject to the same emotional upheaval, but also
                                                          o   Physical or developmental disability (parent or
draw their sense of security, safety, well-being
and personal worth at the hands of their parents.
                                                          o   Any other special needs on the part of a child
Regardless of the quality of parenting, to some
degree or other, from one or other parent, their
                                                       At the very least, it is in a family’s best interest to
needs are addressed. Separation/divorce
                                                       obtain a consultation from a person trained in assessing
interrupts the provision of care and undermines
                                                       concerns in the context of separation and divorce. The
stability, certainty and continuity of relationships
                                                       family professional consultant must meet with both
at times when the child’s cognitive capacity, by
                                                       parties, either together or separately and the children,
virtue of age, may be unable to interpret events
                                                       to interview and obtain data relative to concerns and
reasonable to the situation.
                                                       offer guidance to mitigate risks as assessed. Therein
                                                       the consultant may also offer guidance in order to meet
Notwithstanding the issues common to every
                                                       the children’s ongoing needs and relationships between
separation/divorce, there are yet other issues that
                                                       the parents.
heighten concern in terms of the outcome for the
parties and their children. In the presence of
                                                       Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
multiple concerns, the risk of poor outcomes
                                                       (905) 628-4847
increases. Further, the actual concerns
themselves must assessed in the context of their
intensity, frequency and duration.
                                                       Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario,
The following concerns represent risk factors to       Canada, consider him an expert on child development,
parties subject to divorce. The risks include          parent-child relations, marital and family therapy,
anything from; contested divorce; to loss of           custody and access recommendations, social work and
relationships; to the undermined development           an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a
and success of children; to injury and death of        Section 112 (social work) report. Call him for your
any family member(s). In the presence of any           next conference and for expert opinion on family
and particularly multiple or severe concerns, the      matters. Services include counselling, mediation,
value of family professional support increases:        assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.

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