Parents should choose civility over confrontation: Tailor
This article was originally published on AdvocateDaily.com (now closed down) on 2 July 2019. It is re-published in full below.
By Paul Russell, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor
Effective co-parenting requires communication and an agreement as to what will happenif there is conflict or even divorce, says Mississauga family lawyer Deepa Tailor.
“Whenever I hear that a marriage is being torn apart by a contentious issue, the first thing that comes to mind is that the parties must try to make it less combative,” says Tailor, managing director of Tailor Law Professional Corporation.
“Both parties have the ability and the power to do that,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.
In the context of a separation or divorce, Tailor says quarrelsome issues just increase litigation costs.
“From a lawyer’s perspective, we often see parents squabbling over minor things and not taking reasonable positions,” she says.
“It’s just wasting money that otherwise would be available for their children, for extracurricular activities or future education,” Tailor says.
She says her clients are always encouraged to be civil to each other when going through a divorce.
“When I recognize that there is a hotly contested issue, I always try to play partial mediator, by providing a reality check, and perhaps telling clients that their particular stance is motivated more by emotion than by what they are entitled to under the law,” Tailor says.
As a lawyer, she advocates for her clients based on the merits of their actual cases.
“We don’t believe that we should be part of the problem. We should be part of the solution,” she says.
Tailor says being reasonable with expectations and listening to the advice of legal counsel will lower court costs, while causing less stress for any children involved.
“Family lawyers deal with bickering parents day in and day out,” she says. “While the advice we give you is not necessarily what you want to hear, it’s probably the advice you need to hear.”
A parent’s behaviour in a divorce case will also have a significant impact on their children, Tailor says.
“You are indirectly teaching them about gender norms and how to treat a partner in a relationship,” she says. “Kids are often caught in the middle of the dispute, and that can really have a long-lasting impact on them.”
In her own experience, Tailor says she has seen cases where one parent will try to limit the other parent’s access to the child, or attempt to alienate the child from them.
“At the end of the day, children end up losing in those scenarios because they are saddled with the emotional harm that causes,” she says.
If parents hold different views on any contentious issue, Tailor says that can cause strife, citing a recent Toronto Star article about a Toronto father who launched a legal battle to have his children vaccinated against the wishes of his ex-wife.
The Star reports a family law arbitrator earlier ruled in the ex-wife’s favour, stating that “choosing not to vaccinate is not illegal, negligent nor immoral. It is a personal choice.”
The article notes the arbitrator also ordered the father to pay his ex-wife’s legal costs totalling $34,833, which included “an $11,000 fee she paid to fly in an American doctor who gave anti-vaccination evidence widely dismissed by the scientific community.”
While Tailor says parents should be informed by medical evidence about vaccines — the article states that the World Health Organization has declared vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 global health threats in 2019 — she urges them to find ways to effectively deal with whatever issues they are facing.
“Both parties have the opportunity to take a contentious issue, and turn it into something that’s less combative,” she says.
“At the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the parents about how they’re going to effectively co-parent,” Tailor says.
If the dispute ends up before a judge, she says the court will always look at what is in the best interest of the child.
“The law is structured to maximize the amount of time that both parents get with their child,” Tailor says.
Family law counsel can make recommendations as to what effective co-parenting can look like, she says, and if the marriage falls apart, mediation is an alternative to the court system.
“Mediation is a good option because it brings both parties to the table and allows them to vent their frustrations,” Tailor says. “Even if you don’t end up reaching a resolution, it helps to calm contentious issues when both parties have the opportunity to vocalize their positions,” she says.