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INFANTS AND TODDLERS:. FURTHERING OUR COLLECTIVE UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR NEEDS IN POST-SEPARATION PARENTING PLANS 6 th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights Sydney, Australia 17-20 March 2013 MARIE L. GORDON Q.C. Edmonton, Alberta CANADA. Introduction

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Infants and toddlers



6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights

Sydney, Australia

17-20 March 2013


Edmonton, Alberta



These are the most difficult of files for the family law practitioner, the judge, mental health professionals and client

Huge diversity of opinion on attachment/overnights/breast-feeding, even amongst the professionals

Further factors that offer challenges……

Little or no relationship history between parents

Huge amount of fear on the part of all players

“What if we don’t get this right?”

Lots of first time parents

Younger parents without parenting experience

Couples with no experience handling conflict with each other

Participation(good and bad) from grandparents and extended family

Children so young they have no voice

Mistrust and hostility

“Father Fear”

Time moves fast for infants and toddlers

Less money to afford expensive help and/or assessments

Early childhood development/what the experts say

A survey of case law from Canada

Breastfeeding of infants and toddlers

Judicial notice?

The use of parenting schedule guidelines


Early Childhood Development and What the Experts Have to Say…

How the conversation looks from the outside

“tracking the conversation”


Solomon and George

Kelly and Lamb

Kline Pruett, Ebling and Insabella


Garber mcintosh smyth keleher wells long cashmore parkinson summary

Garber Say…

McIntosh, Smyth, Keleher, Wells & Long

Cashmore & Parkinson



What’s happening in the Canadian scene?

Moving from “when do overnights start”

Radical changes over the last 10 years

What are the important messages concerning post-separation arrangements for infants and toddlers (and what’s frequently in short supply)?

Need for open and positive communication

Peaceful transitions

Close proximity

Cooperation on feeding and sleeping schedules

Sharing important info re: problems and changes

An attitude of support….

When do overnights start? Say…

A review of Canadian cases - the last 10 years

Overnights and beyond?

Additional terms and Conditions for Infants and Toddlers

Summary of Trends in Canadian jurisprudence

Breastfeeding of Infants and Toddlers – Keeping Abreast of the Issues…

and at one end of the spectrum we have…

and at the other end…

What does a survey of Canadian case law tell us (about adjudicated outcomes) ?

Important case comments/articles

Professor Fiona Kelley “Custody and Access Decision-Making and the Breastfeeding Child” (2009 Canada)

L. Sweet and C. Power “Family Law As a Determinant of Child Health and Welfare: Shared Parenting, Breastfeeding and the Best Interests of the Child” (2009 Australia)

A Survey of Canadian Cases and Trends on Breastfeeding after separation

Other materials of interest…

Mammary Summary

Judicial Notice: Use of Social Science Literature in Court separation

To what extent can/should judges rely on social science literature on attachment issues in decision-making?

Reliance on SS literature in Canada – two sides of the coin….

Judicial Notice defined…narrowly and broadly

Modern judicial education (multidisciplinary – more than the law…)

Controversies over use of SS material

Who cites it?

Relying on law review articles v. social science research?

Citing and re-citing….

The Use of Parenting Schedule “Guidelines” separation

law is the balancing act between

perfectly customized solutions , and

rules and guidelines

Growth of guidelines in family law…

The problem with imposition of ‘standard’ guidelines…

A sampling of parenting schedule guidelines…. ( and a little bit about what they say…)

CONCLUSION: separation

we need specialized understanding of cases involving infants and toddlers..

the special struggles of parents dealing with this cohort of children

the huge mountain of writing by social science experts/researchers/clinicians – how do we make sense of it?

where is there consensus?

drawing on the Canadian experience

Controversies over presumptions in favour of shared parenting???

Use of guidelines – a help or hindrance?

Hoping for a future with more qualitative and quantitative research to reduce litigation and conflict….