7 December 2021

Breaking up: dealing with matters amicably for the children

By Emma George, Family Services, Hayes + Storr Solicitors.

Breaking up can be very difficult, especially if children are involved. Often parents continue to live together until they separate, which can create a toxic family environment. Parents will need to decide where their child(ren) are going to live after the break-up, where they will go to school and other day-to-day arrangements.

This article explores 5 ways to keep matters amicable and act in the best interests of the children.

1. Think before you talk

Don’t talk negatively about your ex-partner in front of your children, whether directly or indirectly. Parental responsibility is a parent’s duty to secure the welfare of their child, which is to be exercised for the benefit of the child. If a parent is talking negatively about the other parent they are not acting in their child’s best interests.

2. Discuss contact arrangements

It is important to discuss contact arrangements. The usual arrangement is for children to have a 50/50 split between parents to allow for equal contact, however this is not always possible due to work commitments or if one parent has moved far away. Under these circumstances, parents will often agree to have alternate weekend contact.

If you do not live with your child, think about living locally so that travel arrangements are easier. This way, the child can easily alternate between homes and, if appropriate, mid-week contact can take place. If moving away is unavoidable, consider indirect contact through telephone calls or other means.

3. Stick to a regular routine

A regular routine is important for children, so it comes as no surprise that when parents separate a child’s routine is likely to change. Create a new routine for your child(ren) as quickly as possible. If your child is finding the change difficult, try to communicate with your ex-partner to discuss how you can make things better for them.

4. Talk to your children

Make sure your child is handling the separation and changes well. If they are old enough, discuss their wants and needs. This can help shape future arrangements and determine whether current arrangements are working.

If your child is young, consider talking to your ex-partner about how the separation may affect them as they grow up, and think about possible short-term arrangements which could improve the situation until they get older.

It may be useful to agree on a ‘Parenting Agreement’ which can be regularly altered to reflect the child’s age. This can include, among other things, details about holiday arrangements, educational and welfare needs.

5. If you’re struggling, seek advice

If you are struggling to deal with arrangements amicably, a solicitor can help negotiate on your behalf. Whilst it is important for parents to try and continue communicating, we know that this is not always possible, and it can be helpful to discuss any areas of disagreement with a professional.

If you are going through a breakup and would like to speak to a solicitor about children or other legal family matters call Hayes + Storr on 01328 863231 or email emma.george@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.