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Children & Child Custody

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6 minutes reading time (1102 words)

Helping your child deal with a divorce or separation

Helping your child deal with a divorce or separation
Here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors we specialise in all areas of child law advice and we understand how challenging a time it can be, for all involved, going through a separation or divorce. We have a wealth of expertise in this field of law and can help you with information and advice to help support both you and your children as you navigate your way through your personal circumstances.
We understand how going through a separation or divorce can stir up emotions that you are unfamiliar with, especially negative ones towards your soon to be ex-partner, or even the extended family.  Your children are very prone to picking up these negative vibes from either of you, which can lead them to feeling very confused and upset - they will frequently blame themselves for the break up too, so this needs to handled sensitively.
To help them:
Always make sure you are honest with them. You can tell them, in an age appropriate way, that you both still love them, even if you will no longer all live together and that changes will need to be made.
Make sure they understand that they are still very much loved by all parties.
Ensure you stick to any routines in place and try to ensure that whilst co-parenting, these routines will still be adhered to in each house to avoid confusion and create stability for your children.
Listen to them.  This is vital as they need to know that you are always available to listen to them when they have things they will want to discuss.  Make sure they know they can ask anything on their minds and that you will be open and honest in the answers.
Let them know it is okay for them to feel annoyed, frustrated or angry at times about the situation.
Never speak ill of your ex-partner infront, or in the hearing, of your children. This will lead to confusion with them as they still see you both as parents and love you both. They should never be forced to choose between you, or used as messengers or spies between you both.
One thing you will need to come to an arrangement about, sooner rather than later, is for child contact between both parents. These are called 'Contact Arrangements' and will lay out things like, where and who the child will live with (resident parent) and when/how often they see the non-resident parent. This should be discussed with the children front and centre of any decisions and not used for combative or 'point scoring' by the parents.  Children do far better when they have regular contact with both parents - obviously if there are safeguarding issues then this will need to be handled differently. It is far better for all concerned if you can come to a contact arrangement amicably between yourselves regarding contact, without the need to go to Court, as you know the children better than anyone and should be able to put their welfare and best interests first. If you are unable to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement then you would both need to attend mediation. Medition is held by a trained, independant professional who will listen and liaise between both parties. They are trained to ensure you both have a say in a calm manner and to help you both to put together a planned agreement, which is legally binding, that can work for you both. Sometimes unfortunately mediation doesn't work, usually because one parent refuses to attend for whatever reason (not advisable), or because an agreement is simply impossible to reach. If mediation hasn't succeeded in resolving the issue, then the next step would be for either parent to apply to the courts for a Child Arrangements Order.  This is a legally binding agreement that specifies who the child is to live with; who can have contact with the child; how often and for how long the contact visits are to be. All parties will have a chance to put their cases forward, but ultimately the decision will be the courts and they will always have the childrens welfare as their paramount priority.  If the divorce/separation is acrimonious, or there are mitigating circumstances, the courts may arrange for contact to be held in a contact centre. These provide a safe, friendly environment for parents or other family members to spend time with the children in a neutral environment where neither party has to meet. You are unable to apply straight to the court without having attempted mediation first, this is one of the reasons why it is important to attend any sessions which are arranged. Before you actually get to court, your family will be allocated a CAFCASS (children and family court advisory and support service) officer. Cafcass is an independant agency that looks after the interests of all children involved in family law proceedings. These officers will meet with all family members, including the children and assess any risks to the children. They will report their findings directly to the court and advise what they consider to be in the childrens best interests.
If you do have to go down the Court route it becomes more costly, lengthy and distressing for all involved. As experienced child law advice Guildford lawyers we are best placed to answer any of your child law queries you may have and help you through the process. We will explain all options open to you and help you to come to a mutully agreeable arrangement that works for all your family members.
The courts will always put the childrens welfare first, but they do understand that each family circumstance is individual and will judge each one on it's own merits. They will look at the case and when deciding on the issues of residence and contact they will take into consideration:
The child's age, understanding and character.
How each parent can meet the child's needs.
Has there been any previous issue of harm, or likely to be in the future.
The wishes of the child.
How any changes will affect the child.
Obviously none of the above is an exhaustive list, but you can contact us at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors and we can help to guide you through the process and advise you of any decisions you may need to make and any possible ramifications to them, prior to making them.
With many years of personal and professional experience in the field of child law advice Guildford we can help you to make the best decisions possible.  Call us today on 01483 826470.
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