How We Protect Children and Strengthen FamiliesSeptember 4, 2018
CLC’s non-adversarial approach to family court matters fosters co-parenting skills and family stability where anxiety and tension were. The case history below demonstrates the many ways this approach benefits the lives of the children we represent and their families.
Sisters Diana, 11, and Isabel, 9, are bright and vibrant. Parents Alex and Mariana have been divorced after years of turmoil but their commitment to co-parenting allowed Diana and Isabel to blossom and form loving relationships with both parents. Eventually, though, family conflict once again shook their lives.
Alex suffered an alcoholic relapse when home alone with the girls. Frightened, Mariana requested a suspension of contact between Alex and their daughters, with supervised visits once per week while he was seeking treatment. Alex was unable to afford supervision long term and eventually began only contacting his daughters remotely, devastating them.
When Alex felt his mental health stabilize, he requested that the suspension be lifted and the girls were eager to again have “sleepovers at Papa’s.” CLC was appointed by the court to represent the girls and determine a safe and stable course of action. Our attorney immediately identified the need for the girls to see their father and volunteered to act as an observer of visits between Alex and his daughters. She also secured a free mental health assessment to address concerns about Alex’s mental health and alcoholism. When the evaluator determined that Alex posed no threat to Diana and Isabel, Mariana agreed to a gradual increase in Alex’s visitation.
Our role didn’t stop there, however. While our main goal is to establish a safe and stable parenting plan that benefits the children, that goal is best-served by teaching Alex and Mariana respectful ways to communicate with each other in support of their daughters. The two often email us a message they wish to communicate to the other, and we will offer suggestions to make the communications more courteous. Something as simple as phrasing a desire as a request rather than a demand has greatly improved their relationship; providing specific information early on also eases each parent’s burden.
Although this case hasn’t gone back to court in several months, we continue mediating, negotiating, and teaching these parents to communicate in cooperative and respectful ways in order to prevent crisis before it happens. Best yet? The girls are gradually getting back to their happy-go-lucky selves now that “Papa” is back in their lives.