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Mediation before Court?
Making composite families work.
Self Defending in the Family Court.
What it means to be Father.
Parenting Plans

Making composite families work.

The issues faced by composite families are many and varied depending on the mix of ages and genders of the children involved. Many of these issues need to be dealt with before the commitment is made to become a family. All too often the parents make the mistake of thinking that just because they want to be together that the children will also accept living together and each adult must take time to develop a relationship with the others children as part of the package.

No matter what anyone says, it is always harder to show love and affection to someone elses children a lifetime bond is always stronger and it takes conscious effort as well as time to develop that with step-children.

Children are very perceptive and will pick up very quickly that they get treated differently to the birth children of a step-parent. No matter how hard you try, this is natural and great care and effort must be taken not to let jealousies and antagonism develop because of it.

Each adult is very likely to have developed different parenting styles and agreement needs to be reached on a balance between these styles. The children will need time to adjust to the necessary changes and some discussion with them before the fact is necessary, more so with older children.

The greatest of all challenges to face will be the issue of trust. Everyone involved has experienced a failed family with the associated hurt, anger and fear. Care must be taken that the new relationship hasnt developed out of need or convenience that it is genuine and that the commitment is made to the new family as a whole, not just the other adult with the children being coincidental to the relationship.

The commitment must be made in the knowledge that there will be crises to face some of which will strain the relationships to breaking point. At these times it is essential to realise that all crises can be overcome and that the strength needs to be found to go on if the new family is to survive.

Each blended family is unique in its makeup so the issues that will crop up and the ways that they can be dealt with, may vary greatly, but dealt with they must be if the new family is to succeed, let alone survive. It often helps to seek objective advice from professional and experienced sources before the going gets tough.

By Graeme Urlich 18/07/2004

Self Defending in the Family Court.

Even though only about 5% of family separations end up in the Family Court, its resources are stretched to cope with the cases it has.  In order to allocate its resources reasonably fairly, strict rules need to be applied to processing cases so that only relevant and important issues are dealt with properly.

Everyone has the legal right to self defend if they so choose but they need to recognise that they also have the responsibility of learning the process first and not abusing both the Court itself and its other users by wasting time bringing frivolous applications or by failing to present necessary information in applications.

Usually the court will schedule counselling and at least one mediation conference in the hope that the guardians can reach agreement on their own.  If it becomes apparent that this isnt possible then the court has to make the decision and may request reports from experts and affidavits from the guardians in preparation for a hearing.  Usually neither party is happy with the outcome of a court ruling.

Even if you intend representing yourself in the Court, it is useful to consult with a specialist Family Court lawyer to assist with information on which laws you are making your application under and what is relevant information to include in your affidavits.  Once you get to a hearing you will most likely not be able to bring forward any new evidence and the Court will set a time limit on when all evidence needs to be presented prior to the hearing.  The court also has guidelines on how these documents need to be formatted and how to file them.

In making its determination, the court must look at issues that directly affect the children as opposed to issues that the guardians have with each other.  As a father who has been through this process I can say it is very hard to be objective as a litigant which is why it is important to have responsible, unbiased advice prior to entering into this process.  It is very difficult to stay focused on the core issues particularly as the other party is likely to be attacking you personally.

There are a number of community based groups offering support in this area.  Unfortunately, some only want to use your case to further their own issues with the Family Court.  Check out a few sources and make your choice based on who gives you advice that will most benefit you and your children.  You must always stick to the truth and remain calm when handling your case in the Family Court.

Graeme Urlich - 25/10/2004

What it means to be Father

Hi, I am a 41-year-old Father in a happy and stable relationship.

My wife and I have been married now for 16 years and we have three wonderful children two girls (11 & 9) and a son (7).

I am in full time employment as a Systems Controller, and my wife works part time at the local Community Centre.

To me, a Father is there to provide balance to the equally important role of the Mother, together we nurture and foster our childrens upbringing and develop their fullest potential. Both Male and Female roles are essential for this development.

Becoming a Father was really scary I had this sense of helplessness, towards both my wife and daughter.  There is no manual or handbook to becoming a Father only experience.  It was very difficult at first, but time does make it easier.

The role of being a Father carries with it both happiness and heart ache -the happiness of seeing my children develop in to worthwhile members of society is immense; the heartache of seeing them falter is extremely painful.

Being a Father requires me to balance the needs of my wife, my children, my work, me as a person, and all of us as a family unit.  This is no mean feat, with each deserving my fullest attention.  It can be a real juggling act to maintain this balance; sometimes one has to give way to another for the benefit of the whole.

This includes my wife and I taking turn to look after sick children, but neither of our employers are keen on this happening too often.

When it is possible, I take time off work to watch the kids at their school sports, and I try to be there for the special school assemblies.

Our family has a busy after-school life, with dancing (all); swimming (all), Brownies, Guides and school sports, and I try to be as involved as I can.  Sometimes this is not possible, and I know I have let them down but they are usually quite understanding.

But, when I am there, to see their smiles is fantastic!

The rewards of achieving this are great to have a child come up and say I love you, or Youre the best dad a son could have is really heart warming.

Financially, three children and their activities can be a stretch, but they have learned to accept that money does not grow on trees they treasure the time we spend together more than the money we spend together.

The main thing I would say to any man becoming a Father is to just Be there, you can only see them take their first step once, or learn to ride a bike once.

Take the time to give them a cuddle, tell them you love them, read them a story.  Just be together.

Try it, its FUN !!!

Remember the greatest thing you can spend on your children is


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