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After a Divorce or Separation, parents are often left with the tricky task of continuing to co-parent their children with someone that they often do not communicate well with – or even like. It is important that parents try to co-parent their children successfully where possible as this will be the best possible outcome for the children. Co-parenting does not necessarily equate to shared care but does mean that arrangements for children, whatever they may be, are agreed and important decisions made jointly. CAFCASS (Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have some helpful advice on their website on co-parenting after a breakup. They also run the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP), which parents are often ordered to attend if there are court proceedings.
As soon as a couple decide to separate, they need to start thinking about how they are going to continue to positively co-parent their children. This is therefore something that needs to be addressed when emotions are running high. This is often why this issue can be so hard to deal with, especially when there are also financial implications and a pending divorce to think about. Both parents are usually going through their own emotional fall out and loss and can take differing positions on what is best for their children. Those positions can be driven by fear of losing time with their children or other emotions personal to them as individuals. Children will need the support and love of both of their parents (and often wider family members such as Grandparents) to get through what will be a very distressing time for them, no matter what age they are. The message to a child that both parents have agreed arrangements for them and their siblings, no matter what those arrangements may be, is a powerful one and crucial for a child to be able to recover themselves from the separation. As such, both parents need to learn to work together to continue to support their children effectively, no matter what their own emotions or positions may be.
The media is full of stories about the psychological impact of Divorce and Separation on children. Generally speaking, if parents do not work together effectively then the children may become sad, insecure and withdrawn. This could lead to destructive behaviours and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is important to realise that by refusing to engage with the other parent, you are potentially harming your children. In order to work together, parents have to recognise that they both love the children equally, which is often the first and hardest hurdle. During a separation both parents fear that they will lose time with the children, and so their natural reaction is to fight to maintain and maximise that time. Therefore, it is essential that it is made clear by both parents from the very beginning that they recognise the importance of the other parent to the children, and that they agree to work together to maintain good contact with both parents for the sake of the children. They must also avoid using any derogatory language in front of the children about the other parent no matter how they might feel about them.
In order to do this both parents have to put the children’s needs above everything else – in particular their own feelings and emotions. This will help to ensure that the children are kept safe, secure, supported and happy. The parents need to focus on moving forward and not dwell on the circumstances of the break up, no matter how bad it was or how wronged they feel. Children are not there to console an upset parent and should not be used as a friend or confidant to either parent, no matter what age. Co-parenting is a lifelong commitment, and so parents need to learn how to communicate with one another and work together effectively. After all, they will both in time have to attend birthdays, graduations, weddings, and be grandparents etc. The other parent will not go away, and should not be encouraged or expected to go away as this will likely result in further hurt your children and may lead to future resentment or more severe consequences.
Sousa Law are specialist Family Lawyers in Southampton. Should you be struggling with making child arrangements, Sousa Law can help you work towards co-parenting and to ensure that suitable arrangements are put in place through mediation, collaborative law, Arbitration, or if necessary, through the Court process. Contact us on 02380 713060 or by email email@example.com
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