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18 May 2022

Family & Matrimonial

Divorce: Putting your children first

Going through a divorce can be a deeply upsetting and unsettling time for all parties involved, especially for those circumstances when children and custody arrangements are the main source of discussion. Whilst a marital breakdown can have a damaging impact on loved ones, a divorce does not necessarily need to hurt children, as separation can be the best choice for a family. However there is no avoiding the fact that the transition can be hard for the whole family, and it is important to keep your child’s best interests at heart. Leah Thomas, a Senior Associate within our Family & Matrimonial department, discusses how to best prioritise your children within your divorce and the support that is available.

Ways to prioritise your children during the transition

It’s easy to understand that parents’ conflict hurts their children. A simple way to avoid causing a child worry or upset is to treat your ex-partner with respect. When a child sees an argument between their two parents, it can force them to take the side of one parent over the other. If there are areas of conflict that you need to discuss with your ex-partner, it is best to do this when your child is away or asleep.

It’s important to bear in mind that your children will see you and your ex as their parents, so ensuring that they have a space where they feel loved and can connect with you both is crucial to your child’s emotional development and growth.

Divorce can be a hard process for everyone involved, but when you prioritise your children’s needs, they will find it easier to come to terms with the transition. One way to prioritize your child is to reassure them. Generally, our brains tend to focus on things that are bad, scary or upsetting. When you reassure your child with good news, it can help them to stay in a positive headspace and improve their mood.

Here are two habits that can help:

  • Reassure children in a relaxed manner: “Thanks for sharing your worry. I will make sure that things work out. You can come to me when you want to hear this again, OK?” is an example of what you can say.
  • Share good news routinely. Before bed or at a meal, ask questions such as “What was one highlight from today?” “Tell me what you liked about xyz.” “What are you looking forward to?” Be sure to share your good news or story too.

Your emotional well-being is key to helping your children get used to their new family situation. Children pick up on their parents’ emotions and can mirror those emotions too. Make sure that you are looking after yourself, and getting any help you need.

What if I need more help?

Mediation is a structured, interactive process where an impartial third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialised communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process.

Mediation is one way of helping you and your ex-partner reach an agreement. The role of a mediator is to help both parents agree on child arrangements, without taking sides. You can hire a mediator privately or if you are on a low income, you may be entitled to legal aid.

A mediator can help with:

  • arranging the details of how to look after your child
  • where they’ll live
  • how much time they’ll spend with each parent
  • child maintenance payments
  • the type of contact they’ll have with you both

The purpose of the meeting is to agree on the child’s future and at the end of it, you will get a document showing what you agreed. This document is not legally binding but can be made so through a solicitor drafting a consent order for a court to approve.

As a parent, we know there is nothing more important to you than your children. However, things can become emotional during the breakdown of a relationship and it can sometimes be difficult to act in a child’s best interests. By making sure that you reassure your children, share the good news, show respect to your ex-partner and look after your well-being, you can help make the sometimes difficult transition smoother for you and your children.

Get in touch for a confidential discussion to discuss your options

Our expert Family and Matrimonial team have extensive knowledge and expertise in childcare proceedings, coupled with the compassion and understanding that is essential in helping parents achieve the best outcome for their children.

Please get in touch today if you have any questions or concerns about getting a divorce and the impact that it might have on your children and wider family. To arrange a confidential inform chat, please call our team on 01633 244233 or email us at hello@hevans.com.

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