Erziehungsberatung bei Trennung der Eltern

Educational advice in the event of separation of the parents


Initi­al situation

Sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce from par­ents place high demands on tho­se invol­ved and can result in an increased risk for the deve­lo­p­ment of the child. A nega­ti­ve deve­lo­p­ment of the child­ren is neither man­da­to­ry nor pre­do­mi­nant­ly given.

Figu­re 1 shows a model of the stres­ses and adapt­a­ti­ons of child­ren after a sepa­ra­ti­on of the par­ents based on the sel­ec­tion and sepa­ra­ti­on stress coping per­spec­ti­ve (Ama­to, 2000, p. 1271; Wal­per, 2003, p. 153; Wal­per & Brö­ning, 2008 , P. 575). The model also takes into account the fami­ly rela­ti­onships and thus the deve­lo­p­men­tal con­di­ti­ons of child­ren befo­re a sepa­ra­ti­on so that the cau­ses of a sepa­ra­ti­on can be unders­tood in the coun­seling pro­cess and the con­se­quen­ces for the for­mer part­ner and child­ren can be bet­ter assessed.

Figu­re 1: Model of the bur­den and adapt­a­ti­ons of child­ren after a sepa­ra­ti­on of the parents

Rese­arch in the human sci­en­ces has been able to demons­tra­te that paren­ting advice can make a valuable con­tri­bu­ti­on to child wel­fa­re in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce (Bacon & McKen­zie, 2004, pp. 95–96; Eme­ry, Lau­mann-Bil­lings, Wald­ron, Sbar­ra & Dil­lon, 2001, p. 330 ‑331; Kel­ly, 2000, pp. 971–972; Kel­ly & Eme­ry, 2003, pp. 360; McIn­tosh, 2006, pp. 32–34; McIn­tosh & Dea­con-Wood, 2003, pp. 192–193; McIn­tosh & Long , 2006, p. 60; Thoe­nes & Pear­son, 1999, pp. 214–217; White­si­de, 1998, p. 3; Wolch­nik, San­der, Win­slow & Smith-Dani­els, 2005, p. 77).


Legal basis of edu­ca­tio­nal coun­seling in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce


Con­tent-rela­ted deli­mi­ta­ti­on of §§ 17, 18 and 28 SGB VIII

The “advice on ques­ti­ons of part­ner­ship, sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce” accor­ding to § 17 SGB VIII and the “advice and sup­port in exer­cis­ing per­so­nal care and the right of access” accor­ding to § 18 SGB VIII are in accordance with § 2 para. 2 and para. 3 SGB VIII a youth wel­fa­re ser­vice for the bene­fit of young peo­p­le and fami­lies. It is an offer to pro­mo­te fami­ly upbringing.

Paren­ting advice can not only be used as “help with upbrin­ging” accor­ding to Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code, but also if, after a sepa­ra­ti­on or divorce, “the con­di­ti­ons for exer­cis­ing paren­tal respon­si­bi­li­ty that is bene­fi­ci­al to the well-being of the child or young per­son” are requi­red and with the sup­port of coun­seling § 17 para. 2 SGB VIII a “con­cept for the per­cep­ti­on of paren­tal care and paren­tal respon­si­bi­li­ty” is to be deve­lo­ped, should be recei­ved as a bene­fit. Later on, the par­ents may also need advice in accordance with Sec­tion 18 Para. 1 and para. 3 SGB VIII (Fede­ral Con­fe­rence for Edu­ca­tio­nal Advice, 2012, p. 483).

From a holi­stic view of the pro­blem in con­nec­tion with sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce from par­ents, the­re are over­laps in con­sul­ta­ti­ons accor­ding to Sec­tion 17 of Book VIII of the Social Code and Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code as well as Sec­tion 18 of Book VIII of the Social Code and Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code. The legal man­da­te to “mana­ge con­flicts and cri­ses in the fami­ly” (Sec­tion 17 (1) No. 2 SGB VIII) and “in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on or divorce, to crea­te the con­di­ti­ons for the child or young per­son to exer­cise paren­tal respon­si­bi­li­ty in a way that is con­du­ci­ve to the best inte­rests of the child or young per­son “(Sec­tion 17, Para­graph 1, No. 3 of Book VIII of the Social Code) is indis­tin­gu­is­ha­ble in terms of con­tent from a” cla­ri­fi­ca­ti­on and over­co­ming of indi­vi­du­al and fami­ly-rela­ted pro­blems “(Sec­tion 28, Para­graph 1 of Book VIII of the Social Code). Advi­sing sin­gle par­ents “when exer­cis­ing per­so­nal care” (Sec­tion 18 (1) of Book VIII of the Social Code) and “when exer­cis­ing the right of access” (Sec­tion 18 (3) of Book VIII of the Social Code) over­laps with the tasks from Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code. “It has the­r­e­fo­re beco­me com­mon to speak of Sec­tions 17, 18 and 28 of the Book of Book VIII as the legal basis for indi­vi­du­al coun­seling in edu­ca­tio­nal coun­seling (DST; AGJ 1995) “(Men­ne, 2016, p. 13, see also: Coes­ter, 2003, P. 82).

Paren­ting advice accor­ding to Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code also ori­gi­nal­ly includes sup­port “in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce”. In prac­ti­ce, it is the­r­e­fo­re often a sup­port for this fami­ly pro­blem on the basis of Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code and, at the same time, sup­port for the exer­cise of paren­tal cus­t­ody accor­ding to Sec­tion 17 Para. 1 no. 3 and para. 2 SGB VIII (Fede­ral Con­fe­rence for Edu­ca­tio­nal Advice, 2009, p. 18). “In the majo­ri­ty of the con­sul­ta­ti­ons accor­ding to § 17, which take place in an edu­ca­tio­nal coun­seling cen­ter, ser­vices accor­ding to § 28 are requi­red at the same time. The crea­ti­on of con­di­ti­ons for the bene­fi­ci­al exer­cise of paren­tal respon­si­bi­li­ty (para. 1 No. 3) or the deve­lo­p­ment of con­sen­su­al con­cepts (Para­graph 2) takes place par­al­lel to the cla­ri­fi­ca­ti­on and manage­ment of fami­ly pro­blems (Sec­tion 28), as well as in the form of (par­ti­al) pro­ces­sing of the cou­ple con­flict under­ly­ing a sepa­ra­ti­on and in the form of the­ra­peu­tic help for tho­se affec­ted Child­ren” (Wies­ner, 2015, S. 313).

The advi­so­ry ser­vices regu­la­ted in Sec­tion 18 of Book VIII of the Social Code are clo­se­ly rela­ted in terms of con­tent and timing to advice on issues rela­ting to part­ner­ship, sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce in accordance with Sec­tion 17 of Book VIII of the Social Code. “Despi­te pro­fes­sio­nal advice and / or a court decis­i­on on cus­t­ody, the con­flict situa­ti­on at the cou­ple level has in many cases not yet been dealt and coped with. As a result of the sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce, the­re are often dis­pu­tes over the exer­cise of per­so­nal cus­t­ody, the orga­niza­ti­on of cont­act and the gran­ting of main­ten­an­ce. § 18 the­r­e­fo­re con­ti­nues the coun­seling offer for the pha­ses of paren­thood fol­lo­wing sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce ” (Wiesner/Struck, 2015. p. 332).

18 para. 1 SGB VIII grants par­ents who have to care for a child or ado­le­s­cent alo­ne or who actual­ly care for a child, a right to advice “in the exer­cise of per­so­nal care”. Upbrin­ging the child is an essen­ti­al part of per­so­nal care, in addi­ti­on to super­vi­si­on and resi­dence requi­re­ments. This results in a natu­ral area of over­lap with paren­ting advice accor­ding to Sec­tion 28 of Book VIII of the Social Code.“Advice for sin­gle par­ents accor­ding to Sec­tion 18, Para­graph 1 of Book VIII of the Social Code is the­r­e­fo­re regu­lar­ly lin­ked in paren­ting advice to advice accor­ding to Sec­tion 28” (Fede­ral Con­fe­rence for Edu­ca­ti­on Advice, 2009 , P. 18).


17 SGB VIII: Advice on ques­ti­ons of part­ner­ship, sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce

Essen­ti­al goals of the con­sul­ta­ti­on in the ser­vice area of § 17 Abs. 1 No. 3 SGB VIII and § 17 Abs. 2 SGB VIII as a reor­ga­niza­ti­on aid (Coes­ter, 2003, p. 82) ser­ve to impro­ve the rela­ti­onship, upbrin­ging, action and con­flict com­pe­ten­ci­es of the par­ents to pro­tect the inte­rests of the child in the paren­tal con­flict, thus ensu­ring the con­ti­nui­ty of the paren­tal rela­ti­ons of the child to mother and father (Mün­der, Mey­sen & Tren­c­zek /Proksch, 2013, S. 225 und 229; Wiesner/Struck, 2015, S. 312).

Regar­ding the con­tent of coun­seling in sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce situa­tions accor­ding to Sec­tion 17 Para. 1 No. 3 SGB VIII and § 17 Abs. 2 SGB VIII include:

  • Sepa­ra­ti­on of the dif­fi­cul­ties at the part­ner level from the respon­si­bi­li­ty at the parent level in order to be able to resol­ve the rela­ti­onship con­flict and to coope­ra­te in the inte­rests of the child­ren (see also Jopt, 1998, pp. 290–291).
  • Sen­si­tiza­ti­on of par­ents to the con­side­ra­ti­on and prio­ri­ty of the needs, inte­rests and rights of child­ren over other needs in order not to end­an­ger the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of the child.
  • Pre­ser­va­ti­on of access and rela­ti­onships bet­ween the child­ren and both par­ents wit­hout coming under pres­su­re to form a coali­ti­on, in order to gua­ran­tee the pos­si­bi­li­ty of iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on with father and mother.
  • Child­ren should retain as many of their sup­port­i­ve rela­ti­onships as pos­si­ble and, as far as pos­si­ble, their fami­li­ar surroundings.
  • Ins­truc­ting par­ents to obser­ve the mutu­al good beha­vi­or requirement.
  • Ade­qua­te sup­port for the child in deal­ing with the sepa­ra­ti­on of the parents.
  • Deve­lo­p­ment of a com­mon con­cept for the care and inter­ac­tion of par­ents with their child­ren (brin­ging about a com­mon atti­tu­de of both par­ents towards their children).


18 SGB VIII: Advice and sup­port in the exer­cise of per­so­nal care

The objec­ti­ves of coun­seling in accordance with Sec­tion 18 of Book VIII of the Social Code are advice and sup­port in exer­cis­ing paren­tal cus­t­ody and in deal­ing with peo­p­le in accordance with Sec­tion 1684 of the Ger­man Civil Code and Sec­tion 1685 of the Ger­man Civil Code, i.e. the pro­mo­ti­on of cont­acts bet­ween the child­ren and both par­ents and other important caregivers.

Regar­ding the con­tent of the advice and sup­port in sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce situa­tions accor­ding to § 18 Abs. 1 No. 1 SGB VIII and § 18 Abs. 3 SGB VIII include:

  • Advice and sup­port for sin­gle par­ents in the exer­cise of per­so­nal care with regard to ques­ti­ons of child care, child upbrin­ging, edu­ca­ti­on, super­vi­si­on, the right to deter­mi­ne the right of resi­dence, in cases of con­flicts with the other parent (Mün­der, Mey­sen & Tren­c­zek / Proksch, 2013, p. 250 ; Schell­horn, Fischer, Mann, Schell­horn & Kern / Fischer, 2017, p. 170).
  • Advice and sup­port for tho­se entit­led to access when they request infor­ma­ti­on about the child’s per­so­nal cir­cum­s­tances, when estab­li­shing cont­act with each other and imple­men­ting judi­cial or agreed access regu­la­ti­ons (Schell­horn, Fischer, Mann, Schell­horn & Kern / Fischer, 2017, p. 172) .


Con­sul­ting approach Klu­ge and Schmidt

Dr. Karl-Josef Klu­ge and Axel Schmidt have deve­lo­ped an inter­ven­ti­on approach for coun­seling par­ents in sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce situa­tions. The advi­so­ry approach pre­sen­ted here is geared towards the fami­ly mother-father, parent-child sys­tem and their inter­de­pen­den­ci­es (Wies­ner /Struck, 2015, p. 319). The coun­seling approach is pri­ma­ri­ly inten­ded to enable par­ents to deve­lop and main­tain a fami­ly rela­ti­onship based on part­ner­ship, and to encou­ra­ge and sup­port them in this. “This is ser­ved in par­ti­cu­lar by inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry and media­ti­ve advi­so­ry ser­vices, which also pre­ven­tively pro­mo­te and sup­port the abili­ty of par­ents to resol­ve con­flicts and their abili­ty to com­mu­ni­ca­te and coope­ra­te” (Mün­der, Mey­sen & Tren­c­zek /Proksch, 2013, P. 225).

The cour­se con­tent com­pri­ses 11 units and is desi­gned for a dura­ti­on of 3 months. The group ses­si­ons con­sist of appro­xi­m­ate­ly 8 to 10 par­ti­ci­pan­ts. During the cour­se, work is car­ri­ed out in the who­le group and in small groups. The group ses­si­ons are ide­al­ly led by a mixed-gen­der trai­ner couple.

The aut­hor and Dr. Karl-Josef Klu­ge deve­lo­ped the fol­lo­wing struc­tu­re for their coun­seling approach in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on of the par­ents (see also Eme­ry, 2012, p. 63; Nie­sel, 2008, p. 328–334; John­s­ton & Camp­bell, 1988, p. 199).

(1) Rea­lignment of the par­ents’ rela­ti­onships with a focus on the needs of the child­ren(Eme­ry, 2012, p. 63; Fthe­na­kis, Nie­sel & Grie­bel, 1993, pp. 267–268; John­s­ton & Camp­bell, 1988, p. 199 ; Rohr­baugh, 2008, pp. 196–209; Wal­per & Krey, 2013, p. 196; White­si­de, 1998, p. 13)

If the­re are child­ren, a cer­tain form of paren­tal coope­ra­ti­on bet­ween the for­mer part­ners is requi­red: “One of the many iro­nies of divorce is that, even in the midst of their paren­ting, par­ents need to find a way to work tog­e­ther for their child­ren” (Eme­ry , 2012, p. 93). In this area, par­ents are infor­med about the effects of a sepa­ra­ti­on on the par­ents and on the child­ren. Fur­ther­mo­re, the deve­lo­p­ment-rela­ted needs of child­ren are pre­sen­ted and the par­ents are taught to put the needs of the child­ren in the foreground.


- Pos­si­ble effects of sepa­ra­ti­on on parents

- Gene­ral deve­lo­p­men­tal needs of children

- Pos­si­ble effects of paren­tal sepa­ra­ti­on on children

- Brin­ging awa­re­ness to the needs of child­ren in the foreground


4 units of three hours each. The indi­vi­du­al cour­se units are held at weekly intervals.

(2) Reduc­tion of con­flicts at the cou­ple level (John­s­ton & Camp­bell, 1988, p. 199; Rohr­baugh, 2008, p. 196–209)

Advice on hand­ling and pro­ces­sing the psy­cho­lo­gi­cal con­flict dyna­mics in the event of sepa­ra­ti­on and divorce and the con­se­quen­ces of sepa­ra­ti­on in child­ren and ado­le­s­cents is seen as a pre­re­qui­si­te for the deve­lo­p­ment of a con­sen­su­al and per­ma­nent con­cept for the per­cep­ti­on of paren­tal cus­t­ody (par­ents’ agree­ment) (Weber, 2009, p . 324). In this way, it can be ensu­red with a hig­her pro­ba­bi­li­ty that par­ents do not sub­mit any appli­ca­ti­ons for cus­t­ody or access rights to the fami­ly court in order to get their sup­po­sed rights. Becau­se when fami­ly courts deci­de, they pro­du­ce win­ners and losers. This does not always lead to real paci­fi­ca­ti­on and sta­bi­liza­ti­on of the fami­ly. “The“ fight for the child ”and the sup­po­sed right is car­ri­ed on with more subt­le and / or coar­ser means. Psy­cho­lo­gi­cal mecha­nisms by per­so­nal vul­nerabi­li­ty, by dis­ap­point­ments and inju­ries by the divorcee [Author’s note: sepa­ra­te] Part­ners, who are deter­mi­ned by a sub­li­mi­nal­ly con­ti­nuing guilt prin­ci­ple, by femi­nist and mas­cu­li­ne atti­tu­des and by a right to an undis­tur­bed rela­ti­onship with the child nou­ris­hed by law and public opi­ni­on, can then lead to a build-up of con­flicts”( Weber, 2009, p. 327).

Once the con­flicts bet­ween the par­ents have been iden­ti­fied, the par­ents are par­ti­cu­lar­ly infor­med about the pos­si­ble effects of their con­flicts on their child­ren. Redu­cing the par­ents’ con­flicts is an essen­ti­al pre­re­qui­si­te for redu­cing and avo­i­ding coali­ti­on pres­su­re and the asso­cia­ted con­flicts of loyal­ty for child­ren (Eme­ry, 2012, p. 93). Sub­se­quent­ly, stra­te­gies are deve­lo­ped to limit the conflicts.


- Estab­li­shing the con­flicts bet­ween the par­ents (Lebow, 2003, pp. 183–184; Rohr­baugh, 2008, pp. 170–172):

  • Type of con­flict (e.g. judi­cial, atti­tu­des, personal)
  • Are­as of con­flict and pos­si­ble interdependencies
  • Tem­po­ral dimen­si­ons (begin­ning, duration)
  • Cau­se and cau­se of the conflict
  • Under­stan­ding the con­flict from the dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves of tho­se involved
  • Con­flict level

- Pos­si­ble con­se­quen­ces of par­ents’ con­flicts on the children

- Deve­lo­p­ment of stra­te­gies to redu­ce paren­tal con­flict behavior


3 units of three hours each. The indi­vi­du­al cour­se units are held at weekly intervals.

(3)Development of a paren­ting plan (John­s­ton & Camp­bell, 1988, p. 199, Kel­ly, 2005, p. 253–254, Kli­ne Pruett & Bar­ker, 2009, p. 445–453)

A joint par­ents’ agree­ment can pre­vent decis­i­ons by the fami­ly courts. When dra­wing up a par­ents ‘agree­ment, the par­ents’ poten­ti­al for con­flict must be taken into account (Rohr­baugh, 2008, p. 173).


A joint par­ents’ agree­ment should include the following:

(A) Name of the child and parents

(B) Gene­ral rules about the par­ents’ atti­tu­de towards their rela­ti­onship after a separation

- needs of the child

We agree that we put the child’s needs at the cen­ter of our actions.

- Com­pli­ance with the recipro­cal code of conduct

We agree that we have mutu­al respect for the inde­pen­dence and auto­no­my of the other parent.

We agree to keep the child out of any dis­cus­sion of paren­tal separation.

We agree that we will refrain from any­thing that could make the other parent appear nega­ti­ve in the child.

- Coope­ra­ti­on

We agree that we will coope­ra­te on all child-rela­ted issues and want to come to com­mon solutions.

© Legal concern

- Agree­ment of joint custody

- Agree­ment to trans­fer parts of paren­tal respon­si­bi­li­ty to one parent

– Ver­ein­ba­rung zur allei­ni­ge Sor­ge eines Elternteils

(D) Time of the child with his par­ents(Bau­ser­mann, 2002, p. 97–99; Kel­ly, 2007, p. 46–47)

- Inter­ch­an­geable model

The child most­ly lives with parent A and parent B, e.g. alter­na­ting weekly.

- Resi­dence model

The child lives main­ly with parent A and spends time with parent B every two weekends, for exam­p­le. Addi­tio­nal stays with parent B can be arran­ged here.

- Regu­la­ti­ons on other appoint­ments and par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the child’s activities

  • Holi­day regulation
  • Public holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Other spe­cial days
  • Cont­act via pho­ne, Sky­pe, email, etc.
  • Cont­acts with other peo­p­le (e.g. grand­par­ents, fami­ly members)
  • Par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in appoint­ments of the child (e.g. school events, sports acti­vi­ties, invitations)

(E) Exch­an­ge of infor­ma­ti­on about the child (Lebow, 2003, p. 188)

We agree that we can talk about important things about the child at any time.

We agree that we estab­lish and main­tain relia­ble com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on struc­tures regar­ding mat­ters rela­ting to the child and coope­ra­ti­on regar­ding the child in two sepa­ra­te households.


4 units of three hours each. The indi­vi­du­al cour­se units are held at weekly intervals.



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Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl-Josef Kluge

(Uni­ver­si­ty of Colo­gne, Facul­ty of Human Sci­en­ces, Depart­ment for Cura­ti­ve Edu­ca­ti­on and Reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on, Sub­ject: Edu­ca­tio­nal Aid and Social-Emo­tio­nal Promotion)


02162 24606

E‑Mail: und

Dr. Axel Schmidt

(Diplo­ma in busi­ness admi­nis­tra­ti­on, diplo­ma psychologist)


0171 307 39 48


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