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Learning sessions teach parents separation lessons

You may attend a special education session about separation if you plan to take a disagreement over parenting to court. Attendance is not an option for Parenting After Separation sessions in some British Columbia communities. The relationship status of the parents is immaterial – family legal issues may be with a former live-in partner, an ex-spouse or a parent who never shared your home.

Community rules for attending the sessions also apply to other parties in child-related disputes, like stepparents and grandparents. You can find out whether the session is required when a court application is filed.

The program is designed to provide information and assist parents with post-separation problems. In particular, the sessions teach attendees how to make parental separation easier for children. Among the subjects discussed are the different ways children and adults process separation.

The three-hour session touches on ways parents can speak with their kids about separation and offers families adjustment strategies and resources. Parents are given advice about reducing conflict while communicating with an ex and avoiding children's exposure to the adults' problems.

The program reflects the attitude of family law courts, where children's best interests are the chief concern in disputes over guardianship, support, child contact and parental duties. Parents are informed about the legal options to settle disagreements including counselling and mediation.

Program instructors are facilitators not lawyers. You won't get answers to legal questions during a Parenting after Separation session. However, you may learn something that sparks a new conversation with your lawyer.

You may have a different perspective of your legal case once you've attended the session. The problem may be resolved without having to take the issue to court. This is worth discussing with a lawyer before moving forward -- a lawyer can recommend the best way to approach a problem like a lack of child contact or support issues.

Source: Justice BC, "Parenting After Separation," accessed Aug. 07, 2015

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