2 July 2019

What about the children? Shared parenting after separation and divorce

By Maria Endall, Family Solicitor, Hayes + Storr.

Coping with your own emotions during a break up is hard enough, let alone the opinions, and sometimes interference of those around you. The bigger and likely more troubling question is: how do you make the separation easier on your children? So often, separating parents begin to think of the children as ‘theirs’ – belonging to them and denying the important relationship between the child(ren) and the other parent.

Clearly, children do not have the same insight or understanding into the reasons for the break-up, but if they are regularly surrounded by conflict, it is not uncommon for them to feel they are in some way implicated or responsible for it. Seeing the two people they love and need most, separate, can have a life-long effect on a child’s mental wellbeing, depending on how it is handled by their parents.

Children can’t be expected to ‘choose’ which parent to live with, and assuming that both the mother and father are fit to parent, what happens next? Although it may seem inconceivable at the time, shared parenting arrangements where children spend equal amounts of time with both parents is an option worth considering.

For shared parenting to work, you and your ex-partner will need to live within a reasonable distance of one another so that your children can attend the same school, continue friendships and maintain contact with other family members, causing the least amount of disruption to their lives as possible. Each parent then shares responsibilities which may include school runs, attending after-school activities, appointments or helping with homework and so on.

Often, after a break-up, children remain living with one parent and have limited contact with the other. This level of contact can feel transient and insufficient. With a shared parenting arrangement, both parents retain equal status and the children benefit from the routine and stability of having both parents fully involved in their lives.

If you’re interested in a shared parenting arrangement, it’s worth exploring further with your solicitor or putting forward for consideration if you’re attending mediation.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.

If you would like further advice on this matter please contact Maria on 01328 863231. If you require advice on any other legal matter call 01328 863231 or email law@hayes-storr.com.

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