Parenting is made up of hundreds of thousands of decisions, both large and small. Some are fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things – like whether you’ll let them have ice cream for pudding – while others will affect the rest of your children’s lives. As a couple, most of these decisions are made together, but what happens if you separate? How do you make important decisions about your child’s well-being as divorced parents?
After divorce, making decisions about children’s arrangements with your ex may be a little bit more complicated, but the same rules you followed when you were together should continue to apply. The most important thing to do as co-parents is to communicate – and, more importantly, listen to each other’s point of view. Keep your children’s well-being at the heart of any discussion and don’t let your own resentments affect your perspective. Above all, be prepared to cooperate, collaborate, and be flexible. Children grow so fast and their needs are constantly changing – your parenting approach needs to adapt accordingly.
When you separate as parents, there are a lot of important decisions to be made regarding your children. Such as:
- Who will be the main caregiver, and will the other parent need to provide financial assistance?
- Where will your children live? Who will they live with? And how will they divide their time between each parent?
- Which school they go to? Who will pick them up/drop them off? And who will collect them if they’re ill?
- Who will be responsible for making decisions about medical treatment such as vaccinations and emergency care?
- How often will your children get to see their grandparents and extended family?
- What about holidays? Will you alternate, split it equally, or have a more flexible arrangement? What happens if either of you want to take the kids abroad?
- Will you be changing your child’s name?
- What happens when they’re over 16 and child maintenance stops?
All of these decisions need to be made together, or with the objective advice of a mediator, arbitrator, or solicitor. Some of them may change over time, such as the division of time spent with each parent, or who picks up the kids from school on certain days. In all cases, it’s best to have these important conversations as early as possible to help you work through the separation process in a collaborative and amicable way, and so your children know exactly what to expect from their new situation.
If you’re unable to come to a mutual decision, or find these kinds of subjects cause disputes, you may need to lean more heavily on your legal support to find a resolution, or even take your case to court. However, when children are involved, out-of-court, cooperative approaches are always preferable, such as:
Each of these methods aims to minimise animosity and can help parents to reach a resolution that benefits their children in both the short and long term. Your solicitor is there to provide all the legal help you need to negotiate the separation process and create a positive future for your family. Adjusting to life after divorce can be daunting, bit step by step, one decision at a time, you will find a way to co-parent effectively.
For more information on separation, divorce, and out-of-court alternatives, speak to a down-to-earth family lawyer at Frances Lindsay & Co. We’re here to take the weight off your shoulders and help you find the right solution for your circumstances.