settlement-strategies by garydir


									                                                              give rise to conflict. Thus through counselling, the
                                                              parties can be aided to understand their respective
                                                              contributions to distress and take responsibility to
                                                              manage same. Further, the process can teach and
Settling Custody and Access Disputes…                         promote better problem solving skills as well as
                                                              communication skills and strategies. Agreements
Court, Counselling, Mediation, Parenting Coordinator:         achieved through counselling tend to be the most
What’s the difference?                                        durable in that not only do parents come to a solution
                                                              between themselves, but also a new way of settling
Parents who are separated need to sort out the ongoing        matters as they arise so that greater problems are
care of their children. Statistically, most do so between     mitigated.
themselves without any help or support from outside
resources. However, not all parents are able to settle        Parenting Coordinator: The Parenting Coordinator is
matters concerning the ongoing care of the children and       a highbred between the three above strategies. The
thus turn to several different strategies to help them out.   Parenting Coordinator is generally appointed for a term
Each strategy has it’s own strengths and weaknesses:          of service to resolve problems as they arise. Over the
                                                              course of service, the Parenting Coordinator offers
Court: Couples who turn to the Court are often locked         guidance and direction as well as seeking to help the
in the most contentious of differences. Each may seek a       parties achieve agreements between themselves.
very different outcome and believe they may persuade          However, in the event the parties cannot reach an
the Court in their respective favour and thus win their       agreement between themselves, the Parenting
position. Court is generally viewed as a last resort          Coordinator is empowered by the parties to impose a
solution. The Court will never be as intimate with the        solution as per the Court. In stricter terms, this aspect of
issues as will the parties and hence the outcome may          the role is regarded as arbitration. A Parenting
not be as finely tuned as hoped for. Further, the Court is    Coordinator is generally a good solution for those
not bound by the position of the parties and may impose       parents who may continually find themselves in matters
solutions that neither party is satisfied with. Lastly,       of dispute on minor items with regard to an already
Court imposed solutions tend to be less durable than          established parenting agreement. The goal of the
solutions derived by the parties themselves, with or          Parenting Coordinator is to eventually work themselves
without assistance. Court imposed solutions offer no          out of a job by continually teaching and guiding the
opportunity to resolve underlying issues or teach better      parties to more reasonably resolve disputes between
problem solving and communication skills.                     themselves.

Mediation: Mediation provides an opportunity for              Which strategy is best for any particular set of parents
parents to resolve matters between themselves in the          is subject to a number of factors including, the degree
presence of a trained professional. In the most               of cooperation between the parties, history of abusive
traditional of terms, the trained professional is to act as   behaviour and willingness to work towards a common
the guardian of the process, helping parents to discus        goal of better communication and cooperation in the
matters in an environment that provides some degree of        interest of the children.
control over behaviour and content. The mediator may
or may not express opinion as to the subject matter but       Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
will seek to ensure the process and outcome is                (905) 628-4847
balanced. Mediated solutions tend to be more durable
than Court ordered solutions given the intimacy with
which the subject matter is addressed by the parties and
the fact the agreement is mutually achieved. Further,         Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario,
while mediation may do nothing to resolve underlying          Canada, consider him an expert on child development,
issues, the process can model better methods for              parent-child relations, marital and family therapy,
problem solving and communicating to the parties.             custody and access recommendations, social work and
                                                              an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a
Counselling: Counselling as a strategy to resolve the         Section 112 (social work) report. Call him for your next
ongoing care of children carries the same positive            conference and for expert opinion on family matters.
features of mediation and is also aimed at resolving          Services include counselling, mediation, assessment,
underlying difficulties that may otherwise continually        assessment critiques and workshops.

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