Equipping Parents To Forge A Way Forward Despite Their Differences

By: ​Bruce P. Matez, Esquire

In a recent case decided by the New York Appellate Court, Weisberger v Weisberger, New York App. Div., July 10, 2018, the court was faced with addressing conflict between parents’ fundamental religious practices and beliefs. At the end of the opinion, the Appellate Court stated the following:

We acknowledge that both parents are sincere in their devotion to the children and, with the exception of occasional lapses in good judgment, neither parent has engaged in conduct that is contrary to the best interests of the children. And yet, the parties’ religious, moral, and ethical beliefs and values with respect to raising their children, while once compatible, have now become incompatible in many important respects. While the arrangement set forth here may not fully satisfy both sides of this dispute, courts do not always have the perfect solution for all of the complexities and contradictions that life may bring—the parties must forge a way forward as parents despite their differences. We are confident that both parties will exercise their best judgment in these matters in a manner that furthers the best interests of their children.

The court system is not perfect and does not have perfect solutions to every day issues that we face such as how to address significant differences in parenting style, religious beliefs, moral and ethical differences of opinion, etc. In reality, our court system is not equipped, nor should it be tasked as such, to deal with those types of parenting disputes as they are truly not legal issues, but personal issues. We see these types of disputes in courtrooms every day. We see these types of disputes in mediations every day. Parents are better equipped to find reasonable and rational solutions to these parenting issues. As the New York Appellate Court stated, parents “must forge a way forward as parents despite their differences.” Mediation and the collaborative divorce process provide parents with a more civilized and goal/interest-based approach to these every-day issues.

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