Making decisions about divorce when children are involved

January 21st, 2021

Divorce is never easy, but when children are involved the emotional cost is far dearer. Understandably, divorcing parents are often concerned about the impact a divorce will have on their children and there are also a range of decisions that must be made about children’s welfare during the process.

Our family solicitors are members of Resolution, an organisation dedicated to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Last year, our team supported Good Divorce Week which aimed to highlight the importance of putting your children first during divorce proceedings.

Handling childcare matters during divorce

Deciding where the children live during the divorce process can be one of the most difficult decisions a couple will need to make. Joint arrangements and shared care are encouraged wherever possible and appropriate.

You must decide together where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent and how they will be financially supported. There are many factors that can influence these decisions, including salary differences between parents, children’s schooling and living situations. If you have more than one child then arrangements must be made and agreed for each child.

These decisions are rarely easy, even if your divorce is relatively amicable. Mediation can help. A mediator is an impartial third-party who can help keep discussions on track to ensure a separating couple reaches an agreement. You can put together a ‘Parenting Plan’ which documents the decisions made and the expectations and responsibilities of each parent. However, it should be noted that a Parenting Plan is not automatically legally binding and advise from you solicitor on this is very important.

Dealing with disputes

Unfortunately, reaching an agreement isn’t always easy. Perhaps you cannot agree on who the children will live with, or how many days your child will spend with each parent or maybe one of you wishes to move abroad with the children. Whatever the disagreement, a decision will have to be made one way or another.

As parents, you will obviously have your children’s best interests at heart but it’s important to note that divorce law also prioritises the wellbeing of children above all else. This means that decisions about childcare can also impact on a variety of other decisions during the divorce process. For example, to provide security to your child, the parent who will be responsible for the majority of your child’s care may be entitled to the family home so this could affect the division of property. Working with an experienced solicitor can help you to understand your rights and the wider implications of each decision made.

Court is generally the last resort and something many people wish to avoid. However, should matters end up in court, the court will expect you to have at least attempted mediation and to have started a Parenting Plan if possible. If you do anticipate your separation or divorce going in this direction then it is essential that you seek legal advice and representation. We understand how difficult this situation can be. Our compassionate family team is available to help you unpack the issues surrounding children and divorce to help protect your children and give you as ‘good’ of a divorce as possible. Get in touch today for a free, confidential consultation.