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Question
Posted by: Greig | 2010/06/25

Post 148 - Divorce and Custody of Children

Hi,

I sent an email to you as per your reply to my post no 148, but haven''t had a reply. My message was as follows:

I have discussed the situation again with my sister, and she told me that in fact, the divorce proceedings had not been lodged at another court, therefore her husband could lodge at the High Court. Up until now, she, together with her attorney had been waiting for her husband to sort out and agree to various issues regarding custody, visitation, etc., none of which have been resolved.

In your reply, you mentioned that there is a standard structure with regard to access and visitation depending on the children’ s ages, and that any access or contact must be in the children’ s interests. The ages of the 2 children in question are 3 and a half and 1 and a half (both boys). Could you let me know what this standard structure is so I can pass it on to my sister. Also, where there is a dispute between the parties with regard to visitation and custody, etc, for example, her husband wants to have the children every second weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, and also, every Wednesday night, and drop the kids off at crè che or whatever the next morning. The dispute here is my sister is not happy with him having the kids sleep over with him at their ages, as she finds it very disruptive to their daily routines. How would this be solved?

My apologies, I am going on a bit here. But if you could answer or give some indications regarding the 2 questions I raised in the above paragraph, this would be appreciated.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFamily law expert

Hi Greig,

Your email was answered on 25 June 2010.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: family law expert | 2010/06/26

Hi Greig,

Your email was answered on 25 June 2010.

Reply to family law expert
Posted by: TB | 2010/06/25

the position that one home provides stability and continuity. However, when parents are divorced the children cannot enjoy the benefit of both parents living with them in the same home. Therefore shuttling between homes may be inevitable. In divorce parents we usually do not have the opinion of choosing what is best interest of the child. Instead, we most often choose the least detrimental of several detrimental options. This is especially so when a child has the been psychologically bonded with two parents. Of the two potential evils for children –  the evil of shuttling between the home of two loving caring parents versus the evil of losing one such parent –  certainly the lesser evil is shuttling between two homes. It is the continued parental bonding, not the number of homes, vehicular travel, that will be the crucial determinant of the child’ s forward psychological development following divorce. In these days both parents frequently work, and rely on sharing the child-rearing with each other, with the help of other family members and day care personnel. The concept of one “ primary psychological caretaker”  is outdated. Frequently there are two psychological caretakers.

Reply to TB
Posted by: TB | 2010/06/25

Hi

Your sister''s husband sounds quite fair and reasonable with the visitation. As long as he is quite capable of looking after ther children than there shoud be no problem.

Concepts such as reasonable access, age-appropriate access, maternal preference rule and tender years doctrine are outdated due to the fact that families have changed, gender roles have changed and the life design of parents are different from what it has been previously. Gender roles have changed and it is acknowledged that mothering is not a gender specific task. Children’ s positions has changed and internationally there is focus on the Rights of the child. So each case is based on merit.

There is no evidence to support any age- appreciate argument. One gender does not make a better parent at any age. There is no evidence that a child at any age can only manage a single primary attachment.

On the contrary, mush evidence exists that children are very capable and happily exist in environments with more than one primary relationship. Furthermore, if these primary relationships are note developed before the age of two, there is good chance that the relationship could be permanently damaged, to the detriment of the non-resident parent.

Age-appropriate argument is based on the assumption that the child’ s primary relationship with one parent is more important than with the other.

Some try to ameliorate this bias with adequate access. There is no evidence to show what is adequate or why access by one parent should be controlled, managed, supervised or reduced. The argument should be as much access as possible by both parents. This results in equitability and the absence thereof is an expression of bias.

Historic focus on preserving the mother-infant attachment while establishing an exclusive home, overnight or extended visits with the other parent (mostly) fathers were long forbidden. Such unnecessary restrictive and prescriptive guidelines were not based on the child development research and thus reflected outdated view of parent-child relationships. Further, such recommendations did not take into consideration the quality of the father-child relationship, the nature of both parent’ s involvement, or the child’ s need to maintain and strengthen relationships with both parents (Lamb, Sterberg &  Thompson, 1997)

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