By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT

As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can't see how it is.
~Ram Dass, Spiritual Teacher

According to experts at the International Center for Peaceful Shared Parenting, 80% of family court cases are described as low-conflict cases, 10% as moderate conflict cases and 10% as high conflict cases, with regard to custody.

For many couples who come to mediation, the parenting plan can be the most important long term issue addressed. Fortunately, today, most parents understand the serious negative impact divorce can have on children.  As divorce has become more prevalent, it has become less stigmatizing and more open to discussion. Parents, extended families, educators and professionals are more educated about divorce and what it is about divorce that has the potential to negatively affect the kids.

Over and over we teach, and preach, that the most significant factor affecting the children has to do with the ability of the parents to manage the relationship between them in a manner that allows the children to have an ongoing, healthy relationship with each parent. It is when parents fail to grasp the seriousness of this issue that problems and issues arise that have the potential to impact the healthy development of the child. The long term effects of high conflict cases can be seen in adults who were subjected to hostile environments as children.

Although parents have become more aware of the significant power and influence they wield in these situations, there is still a need educate and inform those you know who may be struggling in these situations. The internet is a wonderful tool at times in helping parents and supporting family members find solutions to assist in this process.

Some excellent resources for assisting high conflict couples with parent management can be found at www.sharedkids.com, www.ourfamilywizard.com, and www.peacefulsharedcustody.com.

Associations that provide professional referrals are the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Mediators, by definition, remain neutral between couples, but at the Center for Cooperative Divorce, while we assist parents in all areas of the divorce process, our background and training in mental health tends towards advocacy for the children’s best interests.

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