More time with my kids

By admin
24 June 2011

When parents get divorced life for the kids is difficult enough. But it’s even harder when the father also has an unexplained illness and the parents fight about who gets to see the children when.

Yes, there’s discord between Joost and Amor yet again.

Former Bok captain Joost van der Westhuizen is suing his estranged wife, singer Amor Vittone, claiming he wants to see their children more often.

Since he and Amor separated 18 months ago the agreement has been that Joost has Jordan (7) and Kylie (5) every second weekend. He often fetches them from school in the afternoons too and drops them at home.

This no longer suited him, his lawyer reportedly said. Meanwhile Amor’s lawyer told the media Joost had sufficient access to his children.

If Joost and Amor can’t resolve their differences through mediation they will have to battle it out in court.

What can a non-supervisory parent such as Joost expect regarding visitation rights?

It’s the norm for estranged or divorced fathers to have their children stay with them every second weekend, says Dr Wilna Greyling, an educational psychologist.

“It’s also important the father gets the kids one night a week so he can share in their normal routine.”

“There isn’t a standard answer as to how much contact time is enough,” Ceri von Ludwig says.

If Joost’s illness means he battles to drive or is at risk of passing out this could be grounds to change his contact rights with Jordan and Kylie.

And if he has a fatal disease it’s important his children are given the opportunity to spend as much time with him as they can, she says.

Should the matter end up in court it could have a lasting effect on the kids, psychologist Anne-Marie Rencken-Wentzel says.

Research has shown children who are exposed to legal wrangling between parents tend to suffer as a result.

Children are in the “magical thinking” phase of their development up to the age of seven – they believe they can make things happen.

Even if their parents tell them the conflict isn’t their fault they still believe they made it happen. And even if the children don’t go near the courts they are still deeply affected.

“Kids read their parents’ body language and tone of voice,” Rencken-Wentzel says.

“Children exposed to legal battles need plenty of predictability, structure and routine to feel safe.”

There’s no winner in a divorce but hopefully Jordan and Kylie will be given the chance to come through it well adjusted.

Read more in the issue of YOU, 30 June 2011.

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