I could not help remembering this as I attended the Spring Conference of the Boulder and Denver Metro Interdisciplinary Committees last Friday. The focus of the morning was on the AFCC Think Tank’s Final Report on Shared Parenting. There is pending legislation that would enact a 50:50 one-size fits all shared parenting presumption in Colorado, so this stuff is topical.
The AFCC list of consensus points is eye opening for just how much we don’t know about what is best for very young children when parents split up. The bottom line is that individualized family court decisions are still needed. The hope is for a research-backed checklist of factors to consider when making these decisions.
Early child development has always been the key background for parenting 0-3 year olds through divorce and separation. Marsha Kline Pruett’s presentation included a short video (4 minutes) that gives at least a beginning overview of why paying attention to brain development in young children is an important issue when re-structuring families. I can see that video as being of use to mediators and lawyers in educating their clients.
In a bit more detail, there seems to be an emerging consensus reconciling researchers who have espoused primary parent attachment theory, and others who see joint parental involvement as the key. The hope is for a less dichotomous approach, grounded in a psycho-developmental perspective. The goal is still to ensure that post separation parenting does not compromise a child’s development in the vulnerable early years. Courts and those experts who opine before them are being recommended to think carefully about the developmental goals for each parent spending time with baby.
It is always good to know what the bench is hearing (judges and magistrates from most Denver Metro jurisdictions were in attendance). For 0-3 year olds, the re-designed CODIT for charting overnight decisions for infants and toddlers was a conference highlight, but it is still a work in progress that is not online yet. For 6-12 year olds, I’m told that the video “Split” is on the agenda for SCAO’s conference for Colorado’s domestic relations judges.
At DU’s Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families, presenters said that they don’t even send parents into mediation until there has been some pre-mediation coaching and parent education. The reason why I have included hyperlinks to all the conference resources is to encourage readers to track these down and perhaps use them in their own cases. For those of us who don’t work in a center such as RCSDF, sequencing mediation and settlement for after parent education classes makes sense.
Just in case you were wondering, I did not approve the six-months on, six-months off parenting plan as being in the best interests of the child split between Colorado and Oklahoma. The parents were not happy with me for dashing their hopes of a simple fix; mom eventually went to child support enforcement, and I lost track of the case after that.