Divorce and Children
Apart from the Olympics it’s been a pretty awful summer for many:- whether it be washed out summer fetes, no improvement in the economy (whatever that means!) or graduate unemployment, times have been difficult for some. Thank goodness for the Olympics which gave us all something else to focus on.
However back to school in September often heralds a rethink of people’s situation, getting round to those jobs that you left during the summer whilst the kids were at home and quite often that involves dealing with personal issues. There are always a lot of enquiries about divorce and separation in September and although the end of the holidays may be a catalyst to those enquiries, it is important to remember that your children will have to live with whatever arrangements you make. That might sound obvious but is often forgotten.
When parents separate they will generally both want to be as fully involved with the children’s lives as they were before, sometimes that leads to conflict but what it should lead to is a commitment from both parents to ensure that they work together in some way despite the fact that they are separating.
It is almost impossible for separation not to mean that both parties are financially worse off so it needs the whole family to work together to decide practical issues such as where is everybody going to live and how they are going to manage financially. The last thing you want is to add a hefty legal bill in to all the other extra costs. That can be avoided if, from the outset, you decide to try and collaborate in the divorce process. Your children will be understandably anxious about what is going to happen, assure them that through no fault of their own you are going to be living separately but that you both want the best for them and ensure that there are no arguments in front of or about them. Parents should take it upon themselves to ensure that they don’t try and burden children with adult issues.
In practice this means that if the kids are going to visit dad, mum needs to give them every encouragement to go; it doesn’t help if she looks sad about them going making them feel in some way disloyal to her or responsible for her being lonely without them. Mum needs to put a brave face on it whatever she might be feeling because these are not emotions children should have to bear. They want to see their mum and their dad.
Similarly when they are at their dad’s they do not want to hear how rotten their mum is – they love their mum (and their dad). They want to be able to speak about one parent to the other without feeling guilty or disloyal or that they somehow can’t mention the other parent. Children need to be able to speak to and about both parents.
Similarly adults need to be sensitive and responsible about their new relationships. It’s no good rushing into a relationship full of enthusiasm without considering the effect that it may have on your children if you bring in a ‘new’ mum or dad, or worse, new siblings!
Kids these days are under a lot of pressure at school, keeping up with their friends. They need plenty of adult support, help and encouragement if their parents are separating. Often this extra support is needed just when those very adults are in the worst possible place to give it, when their life seems to be falling apart because of their separation. Perhaps then we should all be more willing to give practical and emotional support to anyone we know going through a divorce or separation – because it’s never easy.
However just like the Olympics showed how amazing the human body and spirit can be, people can actually get through a really difficult situation and move on to something better, learning from the experience and using that positively with their children and in new relationships.
For more information about collaborative law and separation generally, contact Nicky Gough at Cotswold Family Law.
Telephone: 01608 686590