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Divorce can be hard on anyone. While you and your partner might know or at least see the underlying reasons for why you have come to this point in life, it is not always easy to convey such multi-layered reasons and answer all the questions your children might have. Bayside Mediation prides itself on being one of the few Child Inclusive Mediation practices in Victoria, we also know that having tools at home will help your children. For that, we have a list of books for children of all ages to help them.

BOOKS FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN:

WAS IT THE CHOCOLATE PUDDING? (AGE 2-6)
BY SANDRA LEVINS AND BRYAN LANGDO

This story deals with the confusion that children can feel as the result of a divorce. Two brothers make a mess with some chocolate pudding and believe it to be the reason their parents have separated. The mother explains this is not the case.  She also covers age-appropriate explanations of other potentially bewildering issues such as joint custody and single parent homes.

MY SUPER SINGLE MUM (AGE 2-7)
BY BRONWEN FALLENS

A feel-good book at it’s very finest. This simple story is about a little girl, her single mother and all the incredible fun they have together. It gives a sense of a special relationship between the characters and a wonderful life – which can be even better than that of a two-parent family. With an emphasis on families not always being conventional, but still being happy and fun-loving.

MUM AND DAD GLUE (AGE 3-5)
BY KES GRAY AND LEE WILDISH

The creation of an award-winning author, the simplicity of this story is guaranteed to engage and comfort young children. A trustingly beautiful tale of a little boy who tries to find some glue to stick his mum and dad back together and to stick their smiles back on. The rhyming text imparts a powerful message reminding children that the parental love is still as strong as ever.

TWO HOMES (AGE 3-5)
BY CLAIRE MASUREL

With comforting optimism, this book focuses on a little boy called Alex and his difficulties getting accustomed to living between two homes. It explains how although his circumstances have changed, one thing always remains the same, which is that he is still loved. The matter-of-fact style of writing makes light of what can be a big issue. It concentrates on what is gained when parents separate, rather than what is lost.

WHEN MY PARENTS FORGOT HOW TO BE FRIENDS (AGE 4-7 YEARS)
BY JENNIFER MOORE-MALLINOS AND MARTA FABREGA

The bright pages of this book follows a young girl coming to terms with her parent’s separation. It teaches that although many things have changed in her life, her parents will always be there and still love her. This is accompanied by a parallel message of reassurance that the separation is not her fault and an understanding that by living in separate houses her parents may get along better.

TWO BIRTHDAY CAKES (AGE 4-8)
BY DANIELLE JAKU-GREENFIELD

Using a gentle, tell-it-like-it-is tone this book is targeted at children coming to terms with shared parenting. The story follows two siblings and examines a range of family situations in a realistic and straightforward way. It considers the practicalities of two houses and the not-always-good emotions associated with it. Eye-catching illustrations even allow children to colour in the pages.

 

BOOKS FOR OLDER CHILDREN:

IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD (AGE 8-13)
BY JUDY BLUME

This emotional story follows Karen, an 11 year old girl, as she navigates her parent’s separation. It depicts her journey from desperation for them to stay together, to an awareness that this won’t happen and eventually an acceptance of reality. It covers the frustrations and sadness of the situation, the value of good friends and how, in time, it’s possible to readjust and feel happy again.

THE CASE OF THE SCARY DIVORCE (AGE 9-12)
BY CARL PICKHARDT

An unusual yet refreshing way of dealing with divorce issues, this book is about a ten year old boy with a helping investigator called Professor Skye. Between them they have to solve eight cases which deal with topics encountered during his parent’s break-up and divorce. Covering topics in this style is particularly helpful for boys who may not otherwise consider their feelings as closely.

HORSE DREAMS (AGE 9-14)
BY MARY VIVIAN JOHNSON

A touching story about a young girl’s struggle to deal with her parent’s separation, divorce and second marriage. It covers worry and challenges that can effect preteens/teens in a similar position, as well as other school related issues. An emotional read with an over-riding vibe of hope and forgiveness. Great discussion questions throughout the book encourage the reader to consider their own circumstances.

CANDYFLOSS (AGE 9 TO 14)
BY JACQUELINE WILSON

An endearing story of 12 year old Floss, who has to cope not only with her parent’s divorce but with her mother and her new family moving to the other side of the world. This book presents the difficult choices that may have to be made and the emotions that accompany them. A riveting yet tender storyline demonstrates how even the hardest decisions can be made and overcome with parental love and support of good friends.

THE SUITCASE KID (AGES 9-14)
JACQUELINE WILSON

A heart-warming, realistic read about a young girl who lives week on/week off between her two stepfamilies, feeling she doesn’t really fit into either. It follows an unusual yet compelling structure as the chapters work through the letters of the alphabet. Dealing with upsetting issues which some children will find comfort relating to, it retains a perfect balance of sadness and comedy with a feel-good happy ever after.

GOGGLE EYES (AGES 12-16)
BY ANNE FINE

This book cleverly combines comedy and charm in the story of schoolgirl, Kitty, who is dealing with the post-divorce trauma of her mother’s new boyfriend. She shares her feelings with her friend who is also from a broken family, but who has different circumstances and opinions. Her journey to learn how to accept change, however difficult, is sensitive yet amusing, making it a un-put-downable preteen read.

Myth #1: “We were married so we should split everything 50/50”?

This is probably the most common family law myth we hear. There is no rule or requirement that any
separation, any married or de-facto, has to result in a 50/50 division. In determining any split, the
Family Court will consider:

  • the financial contributions each party made to the acquisition of property;
  • the contributions each party made as parent and homemaker;
  • any non-financial contributions made by either party; and
  • the future needs of both parties.

Myth #2: “They cheated on me so I should be entitled to more”

Australia is a “no-fault divorce” jurisdiction. This means that moral issues such as infidelity will not
impact the overall property settlement or determine who children of the relationship are to live with.

Myth #3: “They need me to agree to get a divorce”.

Both parties do not need to consent to get a divorce. You can object to a divorce application by filing
a Response to Divorce Application however the objection will only be upheld if:

  • you and your spouse have not been separated for a period of 12 months;
  • there was not a valid marriage; or
  • the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the application.

If the procedural and legislative requirements have been met, it is virtually impossible to object to a
divorce application. Whilst you and your spouse can file a joint application for divorce one party can
file the application solely as well.

Myth #4: “We haven’t divorced so I don’t have to sort out finances yet”.

Property settlement orders can be made at any time after separation. It is important to remember
that there is a 12 month time limit for you to commence proceedings in the Family Court which
starts from the day your divorce order comes into effect.

We usually recommend that your property settlement matters are finalised either before or at the
same time as your divorce to ensure that you remain within this time limit.

Myth #5: “Kids should live equally with each parent”.

The paramount consideration in all parenting matters is to determine what is in the best interests of
the child. Whilst the court may consider whether an equal shared arrangement is in the best
interests of the child or children, this may not always necessarily be the case.

These myths often arise from relying on the internet, friends or family members for information
relating to your family law matters. It is always best to be informed and get your facts from an
experienced family lawyer.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist
advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Contact Bayside Mediation for more information and a 30 minute free phone consultation!

Separation represents a pivotal and often traumatic shift in a child’s world — and from his perspective, a loss of family. When told of the news, many children feel sad, angry, and anxious, and have a hard time grasping how their lives will change. The age at which a child’s parents divorce also has an impact on how he responds and what he understands about the new family structure. Here is a brief summary of what children comprehend at different ages and how you can help ease their transition.

Birth to 18 Months

During infancy, babies are able to feel tension in the home (and between their parents) but can’t understand the reasoning behind the conflict. If the tension continues, babies may become irritable and clingy, especially around new people, and have frequent emotional outbursts. They may also tend to regress or show signs of developmental delay.

How to ease the transition: Children this age require consistency and routine and are comforted by familiarity. Therefore, it’s helpful to maintain normal daily routines, particularly regarding sleep and meals, during and after the breakdown of the relationship. Provide your child with his favourite toys or security items, and spend extra time holding him and offering physical comfort. Rely on the help of friends and family, and be sure to get plenty of rest so you’ll be alert when your baby is awake.

18 Months to 3 Years

During the toddler years, a child’s main bond is with her parents, so any major disruption in her home life can be difficult for her to accept and comprehend. What’s more, kids this age are self-centered and may think they’ve caused their parents’ breakup. They may cry and want more attention than usual, regress and return to thumb sucking, resist toilet training, have a fear of being abandoned, or have trouble going to sleep or sleeping alone at night.

How to ease the transition: If possible, parents should work together to develop normal, predictable routines that their child can easily follow. It’s also important to spend quality time with your child and offer extra attention, and ask trusted friends and relatives to do the same. Discuss your child’s feelings (if she’s old enough to talk), read books together, and assure her that she’s not responsible for the breakup.

 

3 to 6 Years

Preschoolers don’t understand the whole notion of divorce and don’t want their parents to separate — no matter how tense the home environment. In fact, divorce is a particularly hard concept for these little “control freaks” to comprehend, because they feel as if they have no power to control the outcome.

Like toddlers, preschoolers believe they are ultimately responsible for their parents’ separation. They may experience uncertain feelings about the future, keep their anger trapped inside, have unpleasant thoughts or ideas, or be plagued by nightmares.

How to ease the transition: Parents should try to handle the divorce in an open, positive manner if possible, as a child this age will reflect his parents’ moods and attitudes. Preschoolers will need someone to talk to and a way to express their feelings. They may respond well to age-appropriate books about the topic. Kids this age also need to feel safe and secure and to know they will continue seeing their noncustodial parent (the one with whom they don’t live on a regular basis). Set up a regular visitation schedule, and make sure it’s adhered to consistently.

 

6 to 11 Years

If school-age kids have grown up in a nurturing environment, it will be only natural for them to have a fear of being abandoned during a divorce. Younger children — 5- to 8-year-olds, for instance — will not understand the concept of divorce and may feel as if their parents are divorcing them. They may worry about losing their father (if they’re living with their mom) and fantasize that their parents will get back together. In fact, they often believe they can “rescue” their parents’ marriage.

Kids from 8 to 11 may blame one parent for the separation and align themselves with the “good” parent against the “bad.” They may accuse their parents of being mean or selfish and express their anger in various ways: Boys may fight with classmates or lash out against the world, while girls may become anxious, withdrawn, or depressed. Children of either gender may experience upset stomachs or headaches due to stress, or may make up symptoms in order to stay home from school.

How to ease the transition: Primary-school children can feel extreme loss and rejection during a divorce, but parents can rebuild their child’s sense of security and self-esteem. Start by having each parent spend quality time with the child, urging her to open up about her feelings. Reassure her that neither parent will abandon her, and reiterate that the divorce is not her fault. (Likewise, parents should not blame one another for the split, but explain that it was a mutual decision.) It’s also important to maintain a regular access schedule as kids thrive on predictability — particularly during times of turmoil.

Finally, since school, friendships, and extracurricular activities are of increasing importance to kids this age, encourage your child to get involved in events and pastimes she thoroughly enjoys. Help her rekindle her self-esteem, and encourage her to reach out to others and not withdraw from the world.

By Laura Broadwell via parents.com

Collaboration – working with others to achieve an outcome.

In Mediation that can mean you, your former partner and a #mediator working together to try to resolve your differences. With #mediation you can elect to bring a support person with you. You can also elect to have #Solicitor Assisted Mediation (SAM), where both parties have solicitors present so any legal questions can be resolved during the mediation

In Collaborative Law in can mean you, your former partner, your solicitors, a mental health expert (psychologist), and a financial expert all coming together to try and resolve your differences.