Self-Help, with Dr. Crane

In a bit of an ironic twist, Kelsey Grammer needs some analysis and advice... again. If Dr. Crane, the Cheers and Frasier character that made him famous, were real, how would he advise Grammer as he treads through the muddy waters of a bitter divorce?

Kelsey and Camille (presently one of the cast members on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) were married for almost thirteen years, and their divorce was finalized in February of 2011. At present, Mr. Grammer is in the news because he and his third wife, Camille, have been arguing about custody of the children, as well as access time with the children, mostly because, according to TMZ.com, they can't stand being around each other and this is impacting the execution of the parenting schedule. Camille is also displeased with Mr. Grammer's lack of participation in the extra-curricular activities of the children to date.

The former couple attended Court on September 30, 2011, which, according to TMZ.com, unbelievably marked the first time they’ve come face-to-face since they officially separated. Apparently they were there to deal with a Motion whereby Mr. Grammer was seeking to take the children on a six-day vacation outside his regularly scheduled access time. Camille was opposed to the idea because she claims that Mr. Grammer has been refusing to take the children to their planned activities, which include dance class and a variety of sports.

The Judge decided that because some flexibility was required as between the divorced parents with regard to special occasions, for example, a vacation with the children, Mr. Grammer could take the children on the vacation he had planned, in spite of Camille not wanting to give her consent. As a stipulation, the Judge decreed that Mr. Grammer must take the children to all of their scheduled activities. The problem now is that historically Mr. Grammer has refused to attend the activities of his children when he knows Camille will be present - which according to reports is almost 100% of the time.

One would assume that it is in the best interests of the children to have both of their parents involved in the social and athletic aspects of their children's lives. Whether they are there to teach their kids, or merely to cheer them on, having a parent watching on the sidelines can mean a lot to children, particularly where the parents have gone through a rough divorce, as that may have been devastating for the children.

What is the best way to attempt to guarantee that a) the children will get to attend all of their scheduled events, and b) both parents will ensure they take the children to their scheduled activities? If Mr. Grammer and Camille lived in Ontario, then the best course of action for them to take would be to negotiate a Parenting Agreement that has built-in clauses intended to deal directly with things like access to the children, and/or the children's participation in things such as dance class and soccer practices and games.

I would direct Mr. Grammer and Camille to Part IV of the Family Law Act, and perhaps to a doctor like Dr. Crane, to act as a parenting coordinator so that they can devise a plan, on paper, that would be respected by the Courts (save for a few exceptions) if there was a conflict down the road. Parties to a divorce are given the authority to contract with each other and outline the terms of their separation, in part or in full, by Section 54 of the Family Law Act, which reads as follows:

Separation agreements

54. Two persons who cohabited and are living separate and apart may enter into an agreement in which they agree on their respective rights and obligations, including,

(a) ownership in or division of property;

(b) support obligations;

(c) the right to direct the education and moral training of their children;

(d) the right to custody of and access to their children; and

(e) any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.

If Mr. Grammer and Camille have entered into any such agreement, it should include clauses that dictate how each parent will attend the children's activities and when. If I represented either of them, I would advise that they do so, before the children start to carry the burden associated with the growing hatred that exists between their parents.

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