I recently heard a proverb which I understand to be Jewish. It goes something like this……
When two divorced people marry four people get into the marital bed. It struck me what a potential understatement that is.
No doubt couples who marry having both been married before, bring with them attitudes, sensitivities and issues that have arisen as a result of their previous marriage. Just because somebody is divorced doesn’t mean that they are no longer affected or influenced by things they experienced, learnt and felt with their ex.
Just imagine then how much more complex the situation becomes if either or both of the newly-wed couples have children from their previous relationships and if the ex spouse or spouses of either or both of our newly-weds also remarried? What if their new partners also had children from previous relationships? The picture becomes increasingly complex with the children involved having a number of new extended family relationships; half siblings, step siblings, step parents and it goes on.
Whilst it might for many be very simple to agree arrangements for their children when they first separate, there is a risk when the divorced couple move on with their lives and new family units are formed. The children, who become members of one or more what we lawyers often called blended families, can find their lives become a battleground with the adults around them playing some sort of tug of war.
As a family law specialist with over 23 years of experience I know all too well how important it is for separating parents to work together and cooperate in agreeing arrangements for their children. It becomes even more important however when families blend and there are more and more people in the children’s lives with conflicting timetables, needs and demands. It is vital that everybody, not just the parents, work together and remember to focus on what is in the best interests of the children. My experience tells me in no uncertain terms that by far the best way of dealing with this is for the parents, and if necessary extended family members on both sides, to enter into either family mediation or a family collaborative process to help them listen and to be heard and to always remember to put the child at the centre of all the discussions.
So, with an increasing number of families in this country having more than just two people in the bed, it becomes increasingly important to find positive and effective ways of resolving family disputes. We don’t want anyone to fall out of the bed!