Going through a break up which involves children can be an extremely emotional time, so here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors, we are on hand to give you the very best child law advice in Guildford. You may experience feelings of anger, stress, frustration or feel that you simply cannot cope with the situation and want to go and hide somewhere – don’t worry, you are perfectly normal and we can help you through these testing times with our wealth of experience. You can find it difficult to make decisions, but take it easy on yourself and you will come out the other side.
It is important to also look at the situation from your children’s point of view. Depending on their ages they may not fully understand what is going on and many will blame themselves for your break up. Let them know that this is between the adults and that they had nothing to do with it. You may find yourself having the same conversation over and over again with them, but it is important to let them know that it is not their fault and that nothing they did led to this outcome. Make sure you do not blame the other parent, or speak of them negatively in front of your children, as this will only confuse them and may lead to resentments in the future. Depending on their ages it may be helpful to apologise to them and let them know that you understand how difficult this is for them to deal with. Let them know how much you love them, do some fun activities they enjoy together – even simple things like a walk etc. will be beneficial and can also provide an opportunity to talk together too. It may also be prudent to inform their school, or anywhere else they do extra-curricular activities, of the situation so they can be informed and keep an eye out and give them extra support if needed. For the very best in child law advice Guildford, contact us and we can help you with every aspect of your situation.
Sorting out where and with whom the children should live will be one of your priorities. This may be an obvious choice between you, made with ease and agreed by both of you, or it can be an incredibly difficult decision fraught with emotion and tension. Either way you should ensure that you are making this important decision based on your children’s best interests and what they need at this time and not what you and your ex-partner deem to be fair to the both of you. Sometimes you will decide that a ‘shared care’ arrangement is best for them. This is where they will live part of the week with each of you and these arrangements can do well and flourish. They tend to be more successful if both parents live fairly near to each other and can communicate effectively together regarding things like homework and making sure that the children’s uniforms, homework, books etc. are in the right home at the right time. You would both need to have the space and finances to accommodate the children for half the week and have clear rules around who is responsible for taking/collecting the children to school, after school clubs, Doctors, Dentist etc.
For some families they decide it will be better for the children to live with one parent for most, or all of the time, but to see the other parent on a regular basis. Factors to take into account can be practical arrangements like how far they would need to travel to school, or is there room for them to stay in both houses. Also if one parent works long hours it's not always practical for them to have the children through the week, if the other parent works part time or can be there for them after school etc. You should also look at your children as individuals and see whether they would benefit from time all together with the other parent or whether they may actually enjoy some ‘alone’ time where they get to be alone with them and partake in one-to-one time. It is well known that children like and need routine, so once you have agreed the details between yourselves you can discuss them with your children and make sure that you stick to them moving forward.
Talking about any arrangements that need to be made for the children, with the children, will be beneficial to all of you. The children will feel involved and you can both make it clear that they come first and it is both your wishes that they maintain a close and loving relationship with the both of you. It is important that you ensure they know that you will not make them choose between you, but that whilst you are the adults making decisions involving them, that you wish to hear their views and opinions on things too, so you can make arrangements that suit all of you, not just the adults. Obviously any discussions will be age appropriate as toddlers will not have the same understanding as teenagers. If you have older children then make time to discuss any different options with them, so you can understand how they feel about things and they will feel part of the decision making process. With many years expertise in child law advice Guildford we can help you through this experience.
Between the adults you need to establish some boundaries and rules that will be the same for each household. Simple things like bedtimes, time spent on the computer/social media, visiting friends, staying out late etc. If you can agree the same rules for each household it can stop children from playing one parent against another and causing unnecessary disputes. Again, discuss these with the children so they know you have both arranged and agreed these terms too. Be mindful though that arrangements can change and that as your children mature their social lives will change and so these rules will need to change to accommodate them. But if you can always discuss these in a non-combative manner with your ex-partner it will be showing your children that they come first and that, as adults, you are able to co-parent them successfully. Making a chart showing them where they will be and who they will be with on any given day will be beneficial too. It takes away the uncertainty away from them if they can see a clear plan of their routine. Depending on your individual family circumstances will depend on whether you do a week, or a month ahead.
When you have agreed arrangements and your children come back from the other parent do not spend time quizzing them on what your ex-partner was up to. It is no longer your concern and will make your children unwilling to share their time away from you with you. Instead let them tell you what they have been up to and be enthusiastic with their responses. Co-parenting is not a competition, it is about making sure your children know they are loved by both of you.
It is also good to remember that with the best will in the world, there will be days where arrangements have to change at short notice. This will happen on both sides, so flexibility is the key here and do not use it as an opportunity for cheap point scoring.
Do your best to ensure your children have regular contact with both parents. They need to know that it is OK to be in contact and to have a relationship with both of you. If it is too difficult, or acrimonious, to liaise together regarding the children, then a third party should be arranged as a matter of priority so the children can continue a meaningful relationship with both parents. Obviously if there are safeguarding issues involved then this will need to be handled differently. Every family’s circumstances will obviously be different, but communication is key and you need to put your children’s best interests at the heart of every decision you make. We can help with all aspects of Child law advice Guildford.
Based in Guildford and Cobham, Surrey and Central London. If you have a child law or family dispute that needs resolving, we are here to help and look forward to your call. Please contact us on 01483 826 470.