Arrangements for children
When the relationship between parents breaks down it is easy for the children to be stuck in the middle. Parents separating can be very traumatic for their children. It may even have come as a surprise to the children especially if any disagreements are kept behind closed doors.
The role of each parent in the lives of their children after a divorce or a relationship ending are equally important. This does not mean to say that children necessarily spend an equal amount of time with each parent but it is important that the parents try to agree as much as possible to avoid a protracted dispute making the situation even more traumatic for them and the children. All families and children are different so there is not a "one size fits all" approach.
Some helpful pointers to bear in mind are:
- Agree your behaviour in front of children – try to agree ground rules
- Listen to your children – listen to how they feel
- Clearly tell your children you love them – ideally tell them that you and the other parent both agree on this
- Never criticise your former partner in front of the children – tempting but unfair on your children
- Do not use your children as messengers – if you need to speak to your former partner do it yourself
- Treat your former partner with respect in front of the children – this will reduce trauma as naturally children want both parents to continue to get on (and very often not to split up at all)
- Try to co-operate over issues relating to your children – you may not always agree but it is important that the children do not see any dispute and the more you co-operate the more emotional stress will be reduced
- Try to agree arrangements where you and your former partner remain actively involved – statistics show that children who continue to have a positive relationship with both parents will have a better start to life, do better at school and stay out of trouble
If you cannot agree on the arrangements for your children the Family Court as part of a divorce, or separate from one, can make decisions about what is in the best interests of your children. This can include where they live and how much time they spend with you and your former partner.
Mediation is often a far better way of resolving any issues or disputes about children. Before a Court Application is made an assessment has to be carried out as to whether mediation would be more suitable (this is called a MIAM – mediation information and assessment meeting).
Always remember that the damage done at around the time of a marriage ending or a relationship breakdown can take much longer to remedy for children. Make sure you do not get into a situation where you look back after the divorce and wish that you had behaved better.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our dedicated Family Law solicitors will be delighted to help. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.