When parents separate, one of the most difficult issues to deal with can be the arrangements for the children. Care arrangements for the children may have worked seamlessly when the parents were together but on separation difficulties can easily arise.
The best way to avoid problems with the arrangements for children is to sit down with your ex-partner as soon as you can and talk through the arrangements in detail. This may sound obvious but it can be easier said than done, especially where the separation has been acrimonious. It is important to remember that even though your relationship with your partner may have run its course, you will still both continue to be parents to your children. Actively trying to put the children’s needs first, can help to focus on what arrangements should be made.
The most important matter to discuss is likely to be how much time the children should spend with each of their parents. These arrangements need to be practical and should ensure that the children are able to spend good quality time with each parent.
Many separating couples find it useful to have a Parenting Plan to set out the details of what arrangements have been agreed. This can be a flexible document which can include the issues that are important to you. A Parenting Plan would typically include: arrangements for the care of the children, what will happen in the holidays and schooling. It can also include details of how the parents will communicate about the children and what happens in emergency situations. The Plan can record details of how the parents will exercise their Parental Responsibility and how decisions will be made.
A well drafted Parenting Plan can provide clarity about the arrangements and avoid confusion or ambiguity which could lead to future problems. This will benefit the children, as it reduces uncertainty and can provide them with consistency, which is extremely important when their parents have separated.
While Parenting Plans are not legally enforceable documents, they can be extremely useful, if properly prepared. In the rare cases where one parent makes a Court application to deal with children issues, the Parenting Plan can be very useful as evidence of intention, which is something likely to be taken into account by the Judge.
If you would like more information about Parenting Plans, please contact us on: 0208 342 7760 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, where we would be happy to help you.