A marriage or partnership breakdown can feel even worse if there are children involved. Whilst the scenario involved will depend on the unique circumstances of the family unit, it is imperative that the children are protected from any animosity between the parents. Put simply, no matter how acrimonious the break up, making the process as manageable as possible for the children should be everyone’s concern.
In some situations, it may be possible to agree child arrangements through family mediation. This way, separating parents can keep the needs of the children at the forefront of discussions and look to the future for a positive outcome.
Should litigation be necessary, it will certainly be the priority of the family court, alongside ensuring that proceedings related to child arrangements progress calmly and smoothly.
So, how can you achieve the best outcome for your children? Here is our five-point guide:
#1 – keep the lines of communication open
Rule number one is to keep the lines of communication open. The worst thing that can happen is for talks to break down. Not only does it increase the tension between the parties (which children will immediately pick up on), but it also has a knock-on effect for any arrangements. The best solution is to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, so that the children can regain a degree of stability in their lives.
#2 – Protect your children from any animosity, but be honest with them
As parents, you have joint responsibility for your children, so it is up to both of you to protect them from any animosity. However, do not try and pretend that change is not happening or lie to them, and certainly don’t try and turn your children against your former partner. In some countries this is an offence, and UK family courts will not take kindly to reports of attempts to manipulate children’s feelings, regardless of the situation involved.
#3 – Get mediators on the case
If amicable communication seems impossible, then ask mediators to step in. Family law experts are highly experienced at acting as go-betweens and will have experience in dealing with child arrangement disputes. Skilled and experienced mediators can help in this regard, avoiding the cost, delay and stress of child arrangements having to be settled by the courts.
#4 – Always keep your children’s welfare at the centre of any decision
In a complicated divorce or separation, it is easy to think only of your own situation. However, it is important to remember the bigger picture and keep your children’s welfare at the centre of every decision.
#5 – Think about the future
Child arrangements should be flexible, allowing children to spend as much time as possible with both parents. This requires you to be relatively flexible too, both in the short and longer term. Schools, health provision, and access to other family members, such as grandparents, are all part of the solution.
Making child arrangements can be emotionally draining and challenging, so it is important to have a legal expert you can rely on and with whom you feel comfortable to help you through the process.