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Divorce and separation: How to minimize the impact on children

It is a joy that Resolution Awareness this year will focus on how divorcing or separated parents can reduce conflict’s impact on their children. It is crucial to make sure that the best interests of children are considered during difficult divorce and separation proceedings.

Empathy is a key skill for family law firm surrey. We must be able to empathize with our clients and understand their feelings.
Our experience, objectivity, and perspective help parents navigate divorce while keeping the best interests of their children in mind.

We are very fortunate at Withers to have access to expert input (such as Emma Loveridge, Suzy Powers and Christina McGhee), on the emotional ramifications associated with divorce. Last year, I had the privilege of attending a great training seminar with Christina McGhee that focused on the children of divorcing couples. My blog mentions Split as a powerful tool to gain insight into the feelings of children about divorce.

Christina’s strong approach and confidence that parents can and should work together, despite any differences in their relationships, inspired me. Good Divorce Week gives me the opportunity to offer some tips and tricks on how to talk to children about divorcing.

1. Try to reach an agreement with your children about what you want them to know, and how the arrangements will work in the short-term.

2. Talk to your children together if you are able to do so amicably.

3. Discuss all the things that will remain the same: school, friends and clubs. Then talk about how to deal with any changes.

4. Keep your focus on the practical. They don’t need to know all the reasons you are splitting.

5. Ask them about their concerns and listen to what they have to say.

6. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. This means that you shouldn’t plan too far into the future. It is hard to predict how you will feel in a few months so plan slowly.

7. You can take your cues from the children about when they want you to talk.

8. Talking to or about your ex-partner should be avoided, especially when it comes to talking about the children. They should see that you are respectful of the other parent.

9. You can prepare for issues ahead of time and tell your children how you will deal with them. If you are attending school events separately, let them know. Let them know who you prefer to talk to.

10. You can take care of your emotional well-being and get the support and advice you need to be able to see clearly enough for your children.

People can learn skills during divorce, especially in communication, that will help them to be successful in their future relationships with their children. Although the post-divorce family may be different, it can still be strong, loving, and effective.

Last chance for no-fault divorce

Today’s Times announcement that David Gauke will introduce legislation to eliminate blame in the divorce process is welcome news. Resolution’s successful campaign for reform, along with those of The Times and The Marriage Foundation, has demonstrated the overwhelming support from family lawyers. The unhelpful and common feature of modern society is to search for fault. This is counterproductive to resolving disputes and fuels acrimony. The law’s impact on the children should be lessened. This announcement coincides with Children’s Mental Health Week. For those who are interested, I wrote an article for Times Law Pages about the Owens case that was presented to the Supreme Court in May 2013.

It’s time to stop the blame game!

Blame culture is an unfortunate feature of modern society. It rarely adds any value. Blame culture is especially pernicious and artificial in the context of divorce. Yet, it remains a legal requirement for most people involved in marital break down. The Supreme Court heard Tini Owens’ plea for divorce from her husband of 40-years. It highlighted the contradictions within a system that has been called both the ‘divorce capital’ and ‘fundamentally obsolete’. Many people find it curious that, despite Mr Owens being found to have been deluded in believing that his wife could go on living’ with him, their legal bond is still intact.

A divorce in England is only possible when a marriage has been ‘irretrievably disintegrated’. Consent can be obtained if a couple has been living apart for at least two years. The required waiting period without consent is five years. Most people who are considering divorce do not want to wait, either for financial or personal reasons. They are directed towards the faster fault-based option. The system is in contradiction, so while allegations of behavior are not usually relevant to the financial outcome (in Mr Justice Coleridge’s terms), the judicial approach positively discourages “a general rummage though the attic of the married’, they are vital within the expedited divorce process. Even for couples who have separated on fairly amicable terms the effects of receiving a divorce petition citing specifics of unacceptable behaviour can be devastating. This can lead to a simmering resentment and could threaten financial settlements or arrangements for children. The more incendiary or unpleasant the allegations, the more damage they cause. This can often make the case more difficult to resolve.

By Mario Pierce

Mario loves Lions and he loves the zoo!

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