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Being at Family Court is a stressful and frustrating time for families. Ask anyone waiting to go before the judge if this was what they imagined when they separated.

“No Way. I wanted out – but not at this cost!” or “I had no choice, but I don’t really feel like this has helped me and my kids move on.”

Do you know any parents who, after going through divorce court, still having respect for each other or any practical skills for getting along with each other?

I know lots of families who’ve gone in and out of court over the years, and are still ‘none the wiser’ about why they feel so lousy and shattered after negotiating this way. So they just stick with blaming the ex!

There is a time and place for going to court. However, there is mostly a huge possibility of damage – financial, emotional and mental, from taking your separation through court.

Getting legal advice and having a lawyer ‘on your side’ can feel reassuring, but having worked with hundreds of separated families, it is a harsh reality that the Family Law Court doesn’t provide what most parents and their children really need.

The crux for parenting after separation is: “How we are going to establish shared ground rules for communicating and negotiating about our children’s needs and wellbeing, against a backdrop of high emotions, and whilst coping with the stress of a huge change?”

You may not hear this from a lawyer, but before attempting to tackle parenting arrangements and financial settlements, it would be better for many separated parents if they were given the opportunity to first pause, and look at things differently. A much stronger base for commencing negotiations would be to ensure parents were in the ‘right space’ to move forward in a positive way, had accessed some co-parenting communicating coaching, and most importantly had access to practical guidance to help their children ‘cope’ with the change.

Families who make the choice to invest in this kind of process will save huge amounts of money, stress and ensure their kids don’t lose their parenting team.