When a couple separates there are many difficult issues that may need to be resolved, from what should happen to the family home to who should keep the car. There is often a difference of opinion as to the appropriate outcome, but what people generally agree is that they want the best for their children. What is not always clear is how to achieve this.
Contemplating an ongoing relationship with an ex-partner can be daunting, but where there are children involved it is something that is worth thinking about at an early stage. Communication can be challenging and many parents find it helpful to agree a structure so they can communicate in an effective way. They might agree to meet for coffee every few weeks to discuss the children, or to send and respond to emails within an agreed timeframe.
The emotional impact of separation can be significant and the impact on children is often underestimated. Conflict between parents can have a particularly negative effect and sometimes children can feel that they have to make a choice between their parents. It is essential to reduce and manage any conflict as much as possible. Children need to be able to maintain a positive relationship with both of their parents to provide them with the best start in life.
Children often feel that they are fault if their parents separate and a joint approach to reassuring them is best. However, it is also important not to give children too many details about the reasons for separation or whose “fault” it might have been.
Sorting out the care arrangements for a child can be particularly tricky. Every child is different and arrangements that work for one child will not necessarily work well for another. Generally, children will benefit from consistency and so it is important to implement a routine that they know they can rely on.
When a couple separates, everything can feel overwhelming and sitting down with a co-parent to agree all of the arrangements for a child can be easier said than done. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) organise a course called a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) which is designed to help people co-parent effectively. The SPIP is aimed at providing separated parents with the tools and skills necessary to identify issues, help their children deal with their feelings and to manage conflict. The course has proved to be very successful and parents generally find it to be enlightening and helpful.
We can provide you with more information about the SPIP as well as other ways to support your children through separation. Details of the SPIP course and course providers can be found here: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/divorce-and-separation/separated-parents-information-programme/.