Now I know this headline is going to be a contentious point for some readers, however, it’s a question I’ve been asked more times than I can count.
The first time was in 2011 when I started to work as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. In 2013, I received training in the Collaborative Law team approach as a Financial Neutral and, in 2016, I attained my Qualified Mediator designation. All of this training has led to much experience with a wide variety of family situations. What have I learned in the last 8 years from families that are going through the divorce process?
I’ve found that many dads (not the exception) become better dads when they are given the opportunity. The opportunity is created when the parenting plan/schedule allows for fathers to spend time with their children. Many of the men I have worked with understand the importance of their relationship with their children. They want to be an integral part of their children’s lives and, in some cases, make professional scarifies to achieve that. I have met a lot of couples facing the breakdown of their marriage and I hear most often from wives that their partner is a great dad, a great provider, but not a great life partner.
In some cases, there is conflict between the parents as their roles are redefined. This happens especially when the roles had been very defined, such as the wife/mom did not work outside the home and the husband/dad worked long hours, or travelled for work, and was away a lot. In that scenario, the dad may make a professional choice to travel less or work fewer hours to accommodate a more equitable parenting plan/schedule. The conflict is usually centred on child and/or spousal support calculations and how it impacts two households instead of one.
Family court is not the place where parenting plans/schedules should be decided. The judges don’t know your children, so why leave it in the hands of a complete stranger to decide the time each parent has with your children? This should be done by parents who understand that putting the needs of their children first is what’s best for the family. The judges, at least in Halifax, Nova Scotia, are leaning toward shared parenting. I have seen first hand how it can be done successfully and, sadly, I have seen it fail.
Each family that is going through a divorce has the opportunity to create a parenting plan/schedule that focuses on the needs of the children and the importance of the role of each parent.