provided by Lisa Dewar
Under the Divorce Act, lawyers have an obligation to ensure that separating spouses are aware of the resources available within their communities to assist with reconciliation if possible. Typically, this refers to counsellors who can help parties improve their interpersonal communication, achieve greater intimacy, establish better boundaries, manage their emotions (such as anger, anxiety or depression), parent more effectively, correct sexual dysfunction, and so on, with a view to keeping the family intact.
The reason underlying this obligation to ensure awareness of available resources is our common understanding that families are the cornerstone of our society, we do better when we have the close support of loved ones, children benefit from living with both parents, families are a safeguard against adversity, and divorcing on a whim is counter-productive or even dangerous. If the family can be protected and nurtured, perhaps revived, both the spouses and their children would be well served.
Sometimes differences between people might seem to justify a change in the family structure. Perhaps one partner’s attitude about faithfulness within marriage changes enough to threaten the other partner. Perhaps a person is emotionally abusive and unwilling to consider his or her part in the family breakdown. Perhaps there is overwhelming or prolonged stress or anxiety from outside sources, or grief and loss issues from within the family, or extreme physical pain, such that the person is unable to interact with, and be responsive to, the needs of the other family members.
Most spouses can benefit from the participation of the coaches regarding emotional and mental health issues, including the effectiveness of their own communication and establishing more appropriate boundaries, for example. If there is any prospect of a reconciliation, the parties could move seamlessly in that direction with the divorce coaches and, in that respect, the collaborative process supports the obligation to ensure that parties consider reconciliation options as they move through separation.
Lisa M. Dewar
Family Law and Mediation
MILNE SELKIRK, Lawyers
Bldg #5, 21183 – 88th Avenue
Langley, BC V1M 2G5