Consider the children before you divorce
It’s a well known fact that children of divorcing parents fare better if the split is not acrimonious and sometimes having a conversation earlier in the marriage about the ‘what ifs?’ might be preferable.
A recent campaign is asking couples to have those conversations early in their married life when things are calm, contented and the conversation can be rational.
“It’s about asking the question - what would be do with the kids if we were to split up?” said Pearson family solicitor, Lucinda McWatt.
There are over 100,000 divorces every year and over 280,000 children are affected. With one in three couples heading to court the decision is sometimes taken out of their hands.
The Family Court has the power to make any order it deems appropriate to protect the welfare of the children and this does include who the children live with, how much time is spent with parents and also gives a warning about the implications of breaching court orders.
“A child arrangement order does exactly what it says, it makes arrangements for the child and who they live with, in my experience when parents put their split to one side and work for the greater good of children involved the arrangements in the order are much easier. At the same time it saves my clients time, money and worry,” said Lucinda.
“It starts with a conversation when times are good, perhaps make a note of the conversation and you have something to refer back to,” she advised.
Another consideration is the effects a ‘nasty bitter’ divorce has on children emotionally and supportive parenting strategies can help children adjust.
“Be honest with your children but avoid the blame game, in family law there are non-confrontational methods of dispute resolution with the children’s best interests at heart and we can advise accordingly.”
“Aside from obviously different living arrangements children may also have to navigate a new house, a new school and living with a single parent. In addition there are financial considerations to take on board as two pots become one, so having clear guidelines to work towards is beneficial to all parties,” she added.
The campaign, backed by a wide range of charities, ask parents to sign a pledge during happier times and this could form the basis of future negotiations on what happens to their children should they divorce.
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“When it comes down to it the court will make its decision based upon what is in the best interests of the child, but this pledge or note is a starting point. So often we see court orders being ignored and families ending up back in court or one parent becoming distanced from their children, but this is a great idea and something I will be recommending to family and friends,” said Lucinda.
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.