Divorcing when you have children means there are more than just the two of you to consider. Your children’s well-being needs to come first – no matter how angry or bitter you may be about the split, and no matter how hard it is to negotiate a resolution. It can be difficult for parents to put themselves in their children’s shoes during separation, and even the most well-intentioned parents can take the wrong approach. On one end of the spectrum, some parents try to protect their kids by pretending everything’s normal, when children usually prefer to know what’s going on, so long as it’s explained in an age-appropriate manner. On the other end, some parents try to involve their children in every single decision, placing too much responsibility onto their kids and causing anxiety and overwhelming them with information.
Just like parenting – it’s tricky to find the perfect balance, and although we all do our best, sometimes you can’t help but do the wrong thing. To help parents avoid conflict during separation and keep their children’s needs at the forefront of proceedings, family law organisation Resolution has devised The Parenting Charter. These guidelines clearly explain ‘what children should be able to expect from their parents if they are separating, and what separating parents need to do in the interests of their children.’
Resolution’s Parenting Charter encourages parents to work together to come to an agreement that considers the emotional and practical requirements of their children. During this process, children also need to feel involved in decisions that affect them. According to the charter, children should have the right to:
- Be at the centre of any decisions made about their lives
- Feel loved and cared for by both parents
- Know and have contact with both sides of their families, including any siblings who may not live with them, as long as they are safe
- A childhood, including freedom from the pressures of adult concerns, such as financial worries
- Financial support and protection from poverty
- Support and encouragement in all aspects of their lives, including their education, as well as their physical and mental well-being
- From and express their own views on any matter affecting them
- Be kept informed about matters in an age-appropriate manner
- Privacy and respect for their feelings, including the way they feel about each of their parents
- Protection from information and material, including that found online, which may be harmful to them
- Protection from harm, and from adults who might do them harm
One of the best ways to work through relationship disputes in a child-focused way is to choose an out-of-court method of separation such as mediation or collaborative family law. These approaches require cooperation, communication and compromise, and can pave the way for amicable co-parenting in the future. Recent research has shown that children who are involved in the mediation process experience more positive outcomes after their parents’ separation.
For advice on children’s issues, mediation and collaborative family law, get in touch with one of the family solicitors at Frances Lindsay & Co. Let us take the weight off your shoulders and find the right way to move forward with separation with your children’s best interests at the centre.Tags: collaborative family law Thames Valley, divorce advice, divorcing with children, mediation solicitor Thames Valley