5 ways to lessen the impact of your divorce on your children

Nov 30th, 2021

Natalie Wiles, Chartered Legal Executive – Associate

It is Resolution’s “Good Divorce Week” this week. The focus this year is the impact upon children through separation which is understandably a difficult path to navigate for separating parents whether they are married or unmarried.

A YouGov Poll has confirmed that over 90,000 children have been involved in private law proceedings this year which is a 6% increase on last year and the highest figure ever recorded.  This is a sombre statistic. https://resolution.org.uk/news/parents-left-to-fend-for-themselves-as-record-numbers-of-children-caught-up-in-family-separation/

Separation is understandably a difficult time for any parent but also for the children involved who may feel anxious, upset, and confused about their future.

There are ways to navigate this difficult time to help achieve a smooth transition for you as parents and for the children. Here are my five tips:

  1. Make sure that you look after yourself. You will be going through lots of changes and this will have a huge impact upon you emotionally and practically. Take support from friends, family, or other professional services to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Self-care is vital to put you in the best position to make important decisions for your, and the children’s, future.

  1. Do not speak negatively about your former partner in front of the children.  Doing so will be distressing for the children and puts them in a situation of conflict and exposes them to issues that they may not understand or issues that they should not have awareness of. The children love both of you and placing them in this situation will be upsetting and could create fear about seeing the other parent and could impair effective co-parenting and affect their confidence and wellbeing.

Separation understandably brings up a lot of emotions and you may have personal views about your former partner. However, try to separate out those views from your views about them as a parent and consider things from the children’s perspective.

  1. Keep communications with your former partner very business like and try to avoid emotive language. Whist there is inevitably and understandably sometimes a desire to talk about the past it is important that you both look forward to the future. Keeping your communications business like will reduce the prospect of conflict.

  1. If possible, and age appropriate, take a joint approach to communication with the children about the separation.  Sit down together and speak to the children about the situation and what the arrangements will be to provide them with reassurance.

  1. Utilise alternate dispute resolution such as mediation at an early stage so that any unresolved issues are discussed constructively. Mediation is a really useful way of discussing matters in a constructive manner in a neutral setting. Legal Aid is still available for mediation but for those who do not qualify the government are presently running a voucher scheme to assist with the costs. A contribution of up to £500 can be claimed towards your fees. This is a great initiative, and I would urge separating parents to use this resource.

Resolution have also produced a fantastic guide for separating parents which can be found on their website (https://resolution.org.uk/parenting-through-separation/). I would urge every parent who is going through a separation to read this incredibly helpful guide before embarking on their co-parenting journey.

It is far better, where possible, for an agreement to be reached between you as parents. Taking positive steps with respect to communication following separation can set the tone for your future relationship. There is always going to be some need to communicate between you about pertinent issues relating to the children during their minority which could be many years.

Both of your lives will change in the future whether it be new partners, jobs, or other life changes. However, your respective roles as parents will be a constant and setting positive foundations for the long term at the outset will be hugely beneficial for you all as a separated family in the future.

For a time unlimited first consultation, please contact us.

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Natalie Wiles

Chartered Legal Executive – Associate

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