Separation is such a stressful time for parents that it is not always to think of the needs of the children. The way the divorce or separation is handled will have a lasting influence on the children. It is important to remember that continuing conflict between partners, as well as undermining your effectiveness as a parent is more likely to adversely affect the children than the separation itself.
When parents separate, children need:
Even young children understand more than their parents think and they need and deserve an explanation why one of you is leaving home. Give them as much warning as possible and tell them in a way they can understand. They need to know that it does not alter your feelings for them and that you both still love them.
Opportunities to express their feelings
All children are affected, though some may not show it. They may need gentle encouragement to talk about what the separation means to them, and for you to accept their feelings about it. Teenagers who often find it difficult to talk to their parents anyway, may be helped in confiding in someone outside of the family.
A chance to go on seeing the absent parent
Children need to remain aware that they have 2 separate parents and if at all possible, children need to go on seeing their absent parent and, if appropriate to have say, in how, when and where these visits take place.
To be able to respect both parents
Unhappy parents sometimes express their feelings, consciously or unconsciously about the other parent, to the child. Children love both parents and you should try, however strongly you are tempted, not to push them into taking sides.
Their parents to respect one another
In the interests of the children, separated or divorcing parents need to understand one another, the parent with whom the child lives with needs to grasp what it is like to only have contact visits at weekends and the other parent needs to recognise the pressure of providing round the clock care.
As much continuity as possible
In their normal routine at times of change, children, find comfort and security in the familiar. It helps to keep to a regular routine for their meals and bedtime, and to continue to go to school and see their friends.
To have their future welfare planned by their parents, not by a Court
The Children Act encourages parental responsibility and discourages Court intervention. Long Court cases can cause further stress and hurt as parents try to prove who is right. You must be careful not to make the child feel at any time that he/she is being asked to choose between his/her mum or dad.
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If you would like more information about Family or would like to arrange an appointment to discuss matters further then please contact us on 01302 341414 (Doncaster) or 0114 2721884 (Sheffield).