Clients often wish to ensure the children are protected from any animosity between the parents. Making the process as stress free as possible for the children should be everyone’s priority. It will certainly be the family courts’.
’Custody’ is a widely understood but not legally recognised term. In this case it refers to a ‘Child Arrangement Order’ which decides where your child lives, when your child spends time with each parent/relative and when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example).
How can you keep disputes concerning arrangements for your children as clam as possible and get the best outcome for your children? Here is our five-point guide.
#1 – keep the lines of communication open
Rule number one in any negotiation is to keep the lines of communication open. The worst thing, for everyone involved, is for talks to break down and tension to increase between the parties (which the children may pick up on). The best solution is to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, so that the children can regain a secure and stable routine. Everyone must keep talking.
#2 – Protect your children from any animosity, but be honest with them
Regardless of whether you and your soon-to-be ex-partner get on, your children are both your responsibilities and it’s up to you to protect them from any animosity. Don’t try and pretend that change isn’t happening. Children are far more astute than they are often given credit for and will know that Mum and Dad are having problems. While the children shouldn’t be involved in any dispute, don’t lie to them, and certainly don’t try and turn your children against your former partner. The family courts will not take kindly to reports of manipulating the feelings of children, regardless of how messy the separation is.
#3 – Get mediators on the case
If you can’t talk to one another without it ending badly, then consider asking a mediator to step in and assist. Family law experts are highly experienced at acting as go-betweens and will also have experience in dealing with child custody disputes, too. Talk to your legal expert if you want to try and organise some mediation.
#4 – Keep the children’s welfare at the centre of any decision
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and focus on the impact on you in a complicated divorce or separation, but it’s important to keep the children’s welfare at the centre of every decision.
#5 – Think about the future
Custody arrangements need to be flexible so that the children spend as much time as possible with both parents. That means you have to be relatively flexible too, not just immediately, but in the future too. Things like schools, health provision, and even access to other family members such as grandparents could be part of a solution. Make sure you think about the long-term plans for your children as well as any immediate considerations.
Custody cases can be emotionally draining and challenging, so make sure you have a legal expert you can rely on, and with whom you feel comfortable to help you through the process.
If you would like to discuss any Family legal issues you can contact Elizabeth Cookson on 01732 355911 or email@example.com
Our Family team offers an initial one hour fixed fee appointment for £100 plus VAT.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.