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COVID-19 : 7 Guidelines for Parents Sharing Custody

Author: Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer.

COVID-19: Guidelines For Parents Sharing Custody

Like a thief in the night, we never saw this coming. The Covid-19 pandemic is the unseen common enemy that has wreaked unprecedented havoc around the world, leaving a trail of disaster, deaths, uncertainty, and confusion. This pandemic will undoubtedly pose a challenge for parents who are already separated or going through a separation and sharing custody during COVID-19.  To help parents through these trying times, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have issued the following helpful guidelines:


Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.



Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age appropriate.


As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.


At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
March 8, 2019

Divorcing or Separating from a High Conflict Spouse

Does My Spouse Have a High Conflict Personality?

  1. Is your spouse rigid and uncompromising?
  2. Does your spouse have difficulty accepting and healing from loss?
  3. Do negative emotions dominate their thinking?
  4. Does your spouse have an inability to reflect on their own behavior?
  5. Does your spouse have difficulty empathizing with others?
  6. Is your spouse preoccupied with blaming others (mostly you)?
  7. Does your spouse avoid any responsibility for the problem or the solution?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then your spouse may have a High Conflict Personality. According to the High Conflict Institute, these are some of the patterns you see in a person with a high conflict personality.

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In Parenting on
April 27, 2018

6 Reasons Why You Should Resolve Your Matter Outside of Family Court

By Lorraine Mlambo

In the event of a disagreement between you and your former spouse, going to court to resolve your family matter should be a last resort. Here are 6 reasons why you should resolve your matter out of court:

  1. Lawyer fees are expensive. You do not want to spend money on lawyers you would otherwise spend on that long-awaited vacation to Disneyland with your child/children.
  1. The party that loses may be required to pay some or all of the legal fees of the winning party, in addition to his or her own legal fees.
  1. Unfortunately, the litigation process may not run as expeditiously as one would hope and delaysare common.
  1. Once your matter goes before a judge, you lose any degree of control over the outcome. For instance, in custody cases, you run the risk that neither your proposed plan nor that of your spouse is accepted by the judge. The judge has absolute authority to decide what is in your child’s best interests. Therefore, in settling your matter in court, you are entrusting a third party who does not know your children as well as you do, to make a decision about how they get to live.
  1. You are less likelyto be satisfied with an outcome following a court decision, than if you came to a resolution having taken part in the process.
  1. As an old Swahili proverb goes, ‘war has no eyes’. Court proceedings are akin to a battlefield and have a way of damaging relationships and burning bridges. In the early part of a custody battle you may not feel as such, but as long as you have children the road ahead is a long one. Think about events and occurrences to come, first day at school, sports days, graduations, music recitals and perhaps even weddings and mutual acquaintances. The bottom line is there is life after divorce or separation, and mutual resolution paves way for better parenting relationships.

Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer from RLM Law.

In Parenting on
March 6, 2018

Parenting While Separated – 4 Tips for Success PART 1

By Lorraine Mlambo

Parenting while separated or divorced is not for the faint of heart. However, there are many things that you can do to increase your chances of successfully parenting while divorced or separated.

Here are 5 tips for success:

  1. Child Centred Parenting – In all instances, focus solely on what is in the best interests of your children. All your discussions and decisions should be focused on your children’s well-being. Maturity is key in helping you to separate your emotions about your ex and what is in your children’s best interests.
  1. Do Not Badmouth the Other Parent – I cannot stress the importance of this point enough. However much you dislike the other parent, never speak badly about them to your children. This toxic behavior does more harm to your children than good. Attempting to divide a child’s love, affection or care for the other parent is simply cruel. It stops your child from building and maintaining an important relationship with their parent, and some research has shown that this reduces a child’s feeling of self-worth as it teaches them to dislike half of who they are. Unless you can do the impossible and physically change your child’s genetic makeup, what is the point of continuing to denigrate the other parent?
  1. Separate a ‘Bad Spouse’ from a ‘Bad Parent’ – Remember, a bad spouse does not necessarily mean a bad parent. A spouse who may have cheated on you may very well be a loving parent that your children love and adore. Separating these two facets of their personality may be very difficult for you, but part of being child-focused means setting those feelings aside and allowing your child to continue a loving relationship with their other parent.
  1. Do not Argue in Front of Your Children –Imagine how arguing in front of your children must make them feel. Your job as a parent is to shield your children from things that hurt them and fighting with the other parent in front of the children hurts them. Would it be so hard to refrain from instigating a fight with the other parent (or choosing not to rise to the other parent’s attempts to instigate a fight) simply for the duration of your pickups and drop-offs?

The courts do not view parents who argue in front of their children favorably and you also risk inviting Children’s Welfare Services into an already complicated matter.

Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer from RLM Law.