Reaching Agreement to See Your Children When You Separate
30 March 2016
Getting divorced is not easy for anyone involved. It will be difficult for you and your ex-spouse to adjust and if you have children, there will be additional challenges for you all.
One of these challenges will be making an agreement about how to share the care of your children. This agreement has to factor in what is best for them and what is best for each of you too. But it can be difficult to reach agreement about your children when there is the emotional upset and hurt left over from your relationship breakdown.
Who is the Resident Parent?
The starting point when thinking about who should be the resident parent is usually who is the main carer of the children now? The person who usually takes the children to school, picks them up and co-ordinates most of what they do will probably be the one who continues to do this once you are divorced.
Then you can agree how much time the non-resident parent will have with the children. If you are the resident parent, you may want to put yourself in the non-resident parent's shoes and think about how you would feel to be away from the children. You can then consider how difficult it is for the children to be without one of their parents. This should help you to set aside any hurt feelings and focus on what is important.
How to Come to an Agreement
You may want to agree a way forward with your ex-spouse. There are a number of ways you can do this. You could do it face to face, although this may be difficult for both of you and really depends on how comfortable you are with each other. You may want to write down your thoughts, ask your ex-spouse to do the same and to email each other so you can then discuss each other's viewpoint at the meeting. It can be helpful to know where your ex-spouse is coming from so you can try to meet in the middle somewhere.
If you think you cannot come to an agreement between the two of you, you could opt for Mediation. This will allow you to have a third party sit in with you and your ex and help you both come to an agreement. A mediator is fully trained to help facilitate you both to agree on a way to move forward.
Going to Court
Your final option is going to Court to apply for a Child Arrangement Order. There are some significant drawbacks to following this route. The first is that it can be financially prohibitive. You will have to pay the Court fees and Solicitor's fees if you decide to use one and you will have already paid to get divorced, which can add to the financial pressure.
The second drawback is the time it takes to schedule a hearing in Court. This can take 3 months from when you lodge your application and anywhere from 12 to 18 months for the final order to be made by the Court. In the meantime your family is left limbo, with you and your ex-spouse disagreeing about access to the children and the children having no clear idea about what the future looks like. This can be particularly difficult for everyone involved.
Lastly, what will you do if the Judge makes a ruling that you don't agree with but you have to conform to? How will you cope? At least if you agree between the two of you, you have some say in what happens and you can influence the outcome.
However in some circumstances there is no other option but to go to Court and ask a Judge to decide. In these circumstances, you may want to ask a Family Law Solicitor about your options.
Do What is Best for the Children
Every parent wants to do the best for their children. No matter how difficult it is to come to agreement with your ex, this will be the best approach for the children. Giving them a clear idea about what is going to happen after the divorce will really help them to settle down and feel secure about the future more quickly.
So make your arrangements as quickly as you can and try to do it with the least animosity possible so you, your children and your ex-spouse can settle into your new lives post-divorce as soon as possible.
For initial legal advice call our Family Law Solicitors on 03306069626 or contact us online and we will help you.