Taking into account the balance towards the desired outcomes, the effect on children’s well-being and the strength of the evidence, we make the following recommendation: For the parents and children, mutual constructive communication between parents is effective than mutual avoidance, for their well-being.

Non-custodial parents who have a cooperative relationship with their former spouses have contact with their children more frequently and have longer visits with their children compared to those with less cooperative relationships with former spouses.

Parents having a mutually supportive and cooperative co-parenting relationship interact quite frequently and share much more besides child-rearing. For example they discuss their children as well as their extended families and mutual friends. Occasionally, some divorced parents spend time together, for example when celebrating significant events such as birthdays or school plays and some holidays

A problem-solving approach with a simple inventory of needs, interests, wants and goals of all parties will help develop
(fair) solutions

The problem-solving approach moves away from a positional articulation of problems to an interest-based articulation of problems. This approach opens up greater possibilities for developing broadened options and solutions that directly respond more to the parties’ underlying needs
A distinction in low, medium or high conflict cases should be made, particularly in regard to custody cases. This way, appropriate time tracks can be created for different cases depending on complexity, need for services, and other factors
‘Low conflict’ couples can avoid adversarial procedures. In high conflict cases, couples should have access to mediation and arbitration [or another form of decision-making].
During this process, the parties attempt mediation. If they cannot reach an agreement, then a decision can be made [by a neutral third party] on their behalf . This way, fast solutions can be found to problematic matters where mediation is not effective.
In all cases, parenting plans should be monitored by a neutral third party, such as a therapist or mediator .
These parenting plans should take into account the developmental needs of children .

Prior to participating in the adversarial litigation process, parents should have the opportunity to participate in mediation, so that they may collaborate with one another and create their own agreement. If mediation does not result in an agreement, other processes remain available.

Some courts in the US have adopted the Differentiated Case management system as a way to more efficiently match families with processes and services. A case goes through triage and a service plan is created for the family. Unlike linear service delivery models [i.e. a tiered system], high-conflict families proceed directly to the programs and services
most likely to be successful for them in developing a parenting plan or having parenting arrangements decided for them. Court systems have expanded their role to include activities such as screening, assessment, creation of service
plans and referral to community resources . A system that identifies the best match between a family and available service, will provide the most appropriate services, resulting in more efficient use of resources and reducing the burden on families .

Generally, people are more satisfied with the mediation process compared to the litigation process and perceive mediation to be fairer . Mediation helps people to understand the point of view of their ex-spouse. The mediation process is perceived to be less biased, and more beneficial to the spousal relationship . It provides people with an opportunity to air their grievances and to understand underlying issues .

In terms of fairness of the outcomes, mediation agreements (for example, spousal support and property agreements) are perceived to be fairer than litigation agreements . For example, mediation empowers both parties to decide themselves the level of fairness within their own separation agreement, which results in a more satisfying
outcome. This increases the chances of compliance with the agreements made, by both parties .
Furthermore, parents consider the custody and visitation plans negotiated in mediation to be more desirable .
It has also been reported that mediation helps both parties to focus on the needs of their children. In the mediation process, parents understand children’s psychological needs and reactions better than in the litigation process . Parents feel that agreements made in mediation are good for their children .
Mediation participants are generally more emotionally satisfied than litigation participants. Resolving a dispute through mediation increases the long-term welfare of divorcing spouses and it minimises conflict .

Children’s exposure to marital conflicts can place them in an uncomfortable position as mediators. When parental disclosures produce role changes or make them feel caught between their parents, it may result in psychological and behavioural problems for adolescents . When parental separation is associated with exposure of children to severe parental conflict, this means children also get exposed to models of maladaptive
conflict management behaviours . When children take over these interaction habits, then they are put at greater risk for relationship problems as adults .

For the child’s interest, authoritative parenting by both parents with warmth, support, effective monitoring, control, discipline, positive discussion and responsiveness to children’s needs is essential . Studies indicate
the following:
Children of separated parents benefit the most when their father is actively engaged in their lives across a wide range of daily activities and when he has an authoritative rather than permissive or authoritarian parenting style.
Children are less depressed, were less aggressive and had higher self-esteem when both parents are authoritative.
Children with at least one authoritative parent have been linked to better academic competence and higher grades.
Children from parents applying an authoritative parenting style do better at school compared to the other parenting styles.
A consistent and authoritative parenting style is effective Parenting characteristics
such as supportiveness and warmth continue to play an important role in influencing a student’s academic performance .
Authoritative parenting is associated with lower levels of substance abuse for children
Parenting characteristics such as supportiveness and warmth continue to play an important role in influencing a student’s academic performance.


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