Children & Divorce – Making Arrangements for Children During the Divorce Process
Divorce is an extremely stressful time for you and your family but can be even more so for children. Children are prone to take the brunt of a divorce – often blaming themselves for the fact that their parents are separating or feeling anger and frustration at feeling as if they need to take sides. It’s therefore very important to act in the best interests of the children when going through a divorce and be highly considerate and aware of their emotions and feelings during the divorce process.
Hurlows Family Law Practice has many years of experience as family law solicitors and can help during this highly difficult and stressful process. This article outlines what is required when making arrangements for children during a divorce or separation as well as offering advice on how to protect children from the brunt of the divorce process. If you require further advice or support from a divorce solicitor, enquire with our team today using an online contact form on our website or telephone now on: 029 2039 6087
Potential Impacts of a Divorce on Children
Children are likely to feel as if their whole world has been turned upside down as they will see divorce as a break-up of their family. Divorce can significantly affect children at all ages and can be traumatic for the children. Although there is likely going to be some grief and difficulties for your children, there are steps that you can take to reduce the impact of the divorce upon them:
- Never argue in front of your children. Keep arguments and disputes away from them as this can increase their stress and fears of the uncertainty that they feel is ahead.
- Don’t pit one parent against the other – this can lead to resentment and distrust of parents and may incur further stress as the child or children will feel pressured to take sides.
- Emphasise that your family has not broken apart (where possible) and try to reach amicable agreements regarding the children.
- Always emphasise that you love your children and they are the most important thing. Communicate that you will be in contact with them whether this is via text, email, face to face meetings or calls.
- Communicate directly to children and don’t make it so that messages are passed on from one to the other.
- Tell the truth about why the divorce is taking place. Do not go into specific details but choose a comment such as ‘we do not get along anymore.’
- Children will need less or more detail depending on age and maturity. Older children, for example, will need to be provided with clearer and concise information whereas younger children will require more basic explanations.
- Let your children express their feelings and reassure them not to be afraid to discuss how they feel. If they feel that they are unable to talk about their feelings and concerns then this can add to the emotional burden of the situation.
Informing Children that a Divorce is Taking Place
This may be the toughest part of making arrangements for your children during the divorce process. It’s important to prepare a statement of what you both will say before you sit down to talk with your children. It’s vital to be upfront and honest about the situation as well as inform your child or children that there will be changes in the future. Give a short yet concise explanation and ensure to let your children know that you love them and that your love for them hasn’t changed as a result of the divorce. It’s important to highlight that although changes are ahead, you will face these together and they will not be alone in facing these issues.
Making Arrangements During a Divorce
During the divorce, you are required to make arrangements for the following:
- Where the child or children will live.
- How much time will be spent with each parent.
- How children will be supported financially.
A solicitor can be used to make the contract/agreements legally binding.
In an ideal situation, you will be able to decide these amicably and once these arrangements have been agreed – they can then become legally binding. The court can then support one of the partners if the other fails in the duties bound to them by the agreement. Although reaching amicable decisions is an ideal scenario – in reality, it is often difficult to agree on particular aspects of the divorce. Typically – arrangements for children and finances are the largest areas of dispute and therefore – you may need to take other actions to reach decisions regarding the children. Decisions should:
- Always be in the children’s best interests.
- Be concise and agreed fully by both parents.
- Be clearly conveyed to children.
A parenting plan can be drawn up which will dictate the times and days in which a parent will have custody of children. This can then be made legally binding by the courts through a solicitor. It’s important to bear in mind that if children are going to be attending after school activities, visit friends or need to be taken to school – these need to be accounted for. Therefore, the parent that is best suited to take them to these activities may need to have custody on a relevant day for example.
What Happens When a Decision Cannot be Made?
Efforts will always be made to minimise having to attend court. In an ideal scenario, all of the agreements can be made and agreed without having to go to court. It’s recommended to try and avoid court where possible as this can massively add to the animosity of the divorce and may put children under increased pressure and stress. Court fees will also build up and it can be a very expensive and tense situation when a divorce is battled out in court.
Divorce mediation is a technique which can be explored if a decision cannot be made and this stays outside of court. During the mediation, an unbiased legal mediator will chair the meeting to allow both parties to speak and discuss their frustrations. If this helps the situation and a compromise is agreed then the solicitor can draft up a legal agreement following from the mediation which can be made legally binding by court.
It’s important to bear in mind that mediation does not work for everyone. If it is unsafe for one partner to be in a room with the other then mediation will not be allowed to take place. If mediation fails then there will be no choice but to attend court to reach a legally binding solution or ruling.
Further Information on Divorce & Children
There are a variety of helpful resources to help you should you be unsure about discussing divorce with your children or making arrangements for children during the divorce process. If you are experiencing difficulties with divorce & children then it is highly recommended to seek the legal advice of a solicitor. You may be entitled to legal aid for certain cases in which you can be advised on further by a legal aid solicitor. Our solicitors have many years of experience representing clients during the divorce process and can offer you expert legal advice when facing a divorce.
As this is an understandably stressful time for you and your family, the advice and support of legal professionals can be highly useful in reaching decisions around your children. If you are unsure, it’s always highly recommended to seek the advice of a legal professional who can help support you both legally and emotionally.
To find out more information on approaching divorce with children or trying to reach decisions regarding children when facing a divorce, enquire with a member of our expert team today. Enquire using one of the online contact forms on our website or alternatively – telephone a member of our team now on: 029 2039 6087
Hurlows Family Law Practice is a valued and respected Firm of Solicitors which has been serving the Cardiff and South Wales area since 2001.