Parenting After Separation Courses

Author: Calgary Family Lawyer Mat Wirove

Separation and divorce are confusing times for families, particularly when dealing with children. Luckily, there are resources that are provided to help people find information on how to properly navigate the process. Some of the main resources are the Parenting After Separation Course in Alberta, and the Parenting After Separation Program in British Columbia. These courses teach parents the importance of working together to co-parent, and meet their children’s health, social, educational and emotional needs together. These program focuses on, and encourage parents to attend mediation or to consider other dispute resolution options. The information provided in these courses is so important, parents are required to provide proof that they have completed the course before the Courts would allow them to bring any parenting application.

The Parenting After Separation Course is a 6 hour in class course offered by Alberta Family Justice. Alternatively, there is a Parenting After Separation eCourse that can be completed in sections and can take approximately 3 hours to complete. The course explains:

The legal process of separation or divorce;

  • Dispute resolution options like mediation that are available to you; 
  • Parenting and co-parenting skills that help children adjust after parental separation or divorce; 
  • How children at different ages respond to separation or divorce, warning signs of stress at each age, and what you can do to help your children cope; and
  • How to prepare a parenting plan. 

Some key information from the court includes:

Relationship Building Blocks

  • The children who appear most vulnerable to developing problems are those that experience many changes during childhood, such as divorces, moves, and remarriages. Ensuring the children feel secure that both parents still love them and will continue to care for them in a meaningful, consistent way creates an attachment which is of primary importance in a child’s life.
  • Teaching attitudes and behaviours that you can adopt to parenting individually, or co-parenting to help children cope with the stresses of parental separation or divorce. 
  • Co-parenting means that both parents are involved in the care of the children’s well-being, and encourage a respectful view of the other parent. Moreover, it means that each parent actively supports the other parent’s time and involvement.

Children can cope with separation and divorce

  • It is up to the parents to make separation or divorce as painless as possible for children. Do not put your children in the middle of adult conflicts or expect your child to be a friend or caretaker of you.
  • If you can work together as co-parents to understand what is hard for your child at any point and how you can make things easier, you will learn what your children can or cannot handle.
  • Anticipate what will be most difficult for your child based on their temperament. Tailor your parenting behaviours and your parenting plan to the particular temperaments of each of your children. 
  • Children need to continue to have a relationship with both parents whenever possible. 

Learning your way around the legal system

  • Maximum contact between both parents helps children maintain their emotional connections with each parent despite the separation or divorce. 
  • Child support is a right of your child, even though it passes through your ex. It cannot be bargained away and its purpose is to maintain a standard of living for children to help them adjust to their parents living apart. 
  • There are a number of different options for dispute resolution, and it is important that parents are aware of these options before taking your decision to a Justice. 
  • Mediation, and collaborative family law are two examples of dispute resolution that help parents work together outside of court to share information and reach solutions that benefit both parents and the children. 
  • A Judicial Dispute Resolution, or JDR, is where a judge meets with parents to discuss any matters still in dispute. The Judge would work with the parents toward agreement, however they cannot make a decision.

Parenting plans that work for your family

  • Parenting plans are most useful when they meet the children’s needs at whatever age, but are also practical.
  • Many children will want their voices to be heard during the separation or divorce. Parents should be respectful of those wishes but make it clear that they are the parents, the children are the children, and that the final decision rests with the parents. 
  • In a parenting plan there should be regular times for each parent to spend alone time with the Children. Remember time together is more important than the activity itself. 
  • Consistency and flexibility are paramount in parenting schedules. A routine makes it easier for children to see both parents, and more importantly it is important that both parents honor their commitments. 

The links to the Parenting After Separation Course is http://pas.albertacourts.ab.ca/.

There are a number of other resources available to parents going through a separation or divorce. We believe that the Parenting After Separation Course is an excellent way to learn about post separation and divorce issues. The lawyers at Crossroads Law are here to help you navigate the difficult issues that can arise when parenting after separation and divorce.