Ten New Year Resolutions for Separating Parents

  1. Respect and support each other as parents even if you are furious with each other as exes.
  1. Don’t fight in front of your children and particularly don’t fight about their arrangements in front of them.
  1. Be happy that your child has another parent, and if you can try to foster their love for the other parent and encourage them to have a healthy relationship.
  1. Listen to your children and (depending on their ages) allow them a say in the arrangements for their lives. Be prepared for those arrangements to change as they grow and develop.
  1. Write a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan is a written document which spells out how you and the other parent intend on sharing childcare duties and responsibilities going forward. The plan can include everything from where children spend the nights on weekends to who they spend Christmas day with.

httpss://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parenting-plan.aspx

  1. Make a will. You may have written one already, or it may never have crossed your mind, but your new situation requires a new will, or at the very least an update to your existing one.
  1. Take your time before introducing your children to a new partner, and don’t expect them to click immediately.
  1. Allow your children the right to express their anger at the new situation without fear that you will become upset or defensive.
  1. Don’t beat yourself up! Children are adaptable and have been shown to cope well with separation. What causes them long lasting difficulties is on-going conflict between their parents, so if you can overcome that you will have done as much as you can.
  1. Talk! To each other, to your children, to others who look after them. Keep people in the picture about your new circumstances otherwise they won’t be able to support you. If you can’t talk about things without arguing – you may need to get some help. We would be happy to talk to you and discuss with you whether mediation might be able to help you and your children.  Call Frances or Charles on 01179243880 0r 07889039393

News & Tips on Celebrating Christmas as a Separated Family

Children Celebrating ChristmasWith the big day fast approaching, you can see many families getting excited about Christmas, decorating the house, Christmas shopping, visiting Santa’s grotto and much more. Christmas is often described as the time of year where families get together.

However we cannot forget that Christmas can be more difficult for some families due to separation and divorce. This topic has been covered greatly in the news recently and we have found some really useful and interesting articles that we wanted to share with you which all focus on ensuring that children always have a fantastic Christmas no matter if the family is split or not.
Bristol Married Couples Staying Together ‘for the kids’

Christmas is such a happy time of year, a time for families to get together and the whole season is beloved by children. This clearly explains why so many parents wouldn’t want to ruin a Christmas for their children by getting divorced.

A recent study showed that almost 1 in 5 married couples in Bristol will stay together over the Christmas period, and that 37% said that they would hold off asking their other half for a divorce due to worries of how it will affect their children.

But could staying together have even more of a negative effect on children?

Find out more here about the fascinating results of this research and why staying together could have a worse effect.

Divorced Parents Warned About Settling on Christmas Visits

A “parental involvement provision” in section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014 took effect on 22 October and applies to cases started on or after that date. It does not apply to cases already going through the courts prior to 22 October.

The Ministry of Justice has made it clear that the parental involvement provision is not about giving parents new ‘rights’ or providing for the equal division of children’s time spent with each parent. The change is intended to encourage parents to be more focused on children’s needs following separation and the role each parent has in the child’s life.

The new law means that the family courts will now presume that each parent’s involvement in the child’s life will further their welfare, as long as it is safe to presume this. There will still be some cases where involvement from both parents is not appropriate, and this new provision does nothing to prevent a court determining that. The needs of the child will still remain the paramount priority of the courts.

No child should have a parent excluded from their life without good reason. It is hoped that the new law will result in a culture shift and encourage all parents who are separating to focus on the needs of their child rather than what they want for themselves.

In reality the provision is unlikely to lead to any significant change to the current orders a court can make with regards to the arrangements for children after their parents separate. The definition of involvement is ‘some kind, either direct or indirect, but not any particular division of a child’s time’. However, the court now right from the outset of proceedings will be mindful that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives if possible.

Christmas can be a hard time for separated parents but as ever children do have to come first, these two articles from The Stourbridge News and Bromsgrove Advertiser revealed how a solicitor has been warning parents about failing to agree on Christmas plans could lead to legal action given the new parental involvement provision.

Successful Co-Parenting at Christmas

Whether you have just become separated or have been for some time, co-parenting can be a difficult process especially at special times of year like Christmas.

This interesting article discusses 6 points which parents should consider to ensure that you can manage co-parenting in the best possible way for your children.

The Split Family’s Guide to Celebrating Christmas

As ever in the run up to Christmas many people highlight just how important it is just to ensure that children can still have an enjoyable festive season even with separated parents.

You can find many news articles and guides with tips on how to ensure that your separation doesn’t dampen the Christmas spirit. We have found another great guide for parents, if you have only just separated or have been for a long time this can be tricky situation but children always come first for parents.

If you are in this situation or know someone who is then check out this guide.

How Can Mediation Help?

Discussing how to deal with big family celebrations like Christmas can be very painful and difficult for separated couples with children. Some couples are so upset and angry with each other that discussions always escalate into arguments and no compromise or resolution is reached. Mediation can be the perfect solution to resolve issues and problems between such couples. A mediator will offer neutral territory, an unbiased opinion and can often suggest solutions that parents may not have thought of as an option. If you experiencing difficulties with an ex-spouse or partner and want to find out more about our mediation services – please call us on 0117 924 3880.

Separated Parents at Christmas – How to Share Time with the Children

Christmas Experience for a newly Separated Couple with Children.

Today’s blog is a real life experience from a newly separated Mum with 3 young children. She shares her plans for how she and her ex intend to share the care fairly over the Christmas period. For the sake of anonymity the names have been changed.

“My husband and I separated in the summer, so this Christmas is our first where we will not be spending the festive period all together as a family. We now live separately and the children spend an equal time with each of us. The rota for the shared parenting is well established now although is flexible if work commitments dictate.

Christmas Day

I was nervous about Christmas Day! Who was going to have the kids? Would I only see them every other year on Christmas day?

Fortunately my ex-husband and I are able to communicate in a fairly amicable way. We agreed that it would be good for the children to have Christmas day in his house as it is new to him and them and it would make it more like home for them there. I agreed to let him have them over night on Christmas Eve so they wake up to their stockings at his house. But, as the children want to see me too, I am going over for lunch and to do presents as a family.

So in order that both sets of grandparents get to see the children as well, we have agreed the following arrangements:

Christmas Eve: I have kids for my family do, then take them to John’s in the evening.

Christmas Day: John has kids, I go for lunch and stay a while.

Boxing Day: John takes kids to his family do and then drops them back in the evening to me.

Christmas Presents

Another reason I am so glad that I can communicate with my ex! We are doing presents from both of us just as we always have. One thing we did not want to do was get into a competition over presents as we have seen this happen with other separated parents. Each of them trying to buy the biggest and best present in an attempt to win the kids over.

We have a shared online calendar and spreadsheet so we can add in all the arrangements and money we have each spent on gifts etc.

I am a little sad that I won’t see the kids first thing in the morning when they open their stockings but they won’t open their main presents from us until I get there. Next year we will reverse the arrangement. I feel very glad that John and I are able to put our difficulties aside and focus on the children and what they need.”

How can mediation help?

Sadly not all separated couples are able to remain amicable and find it very difficult to communicate to make arrangements in general about the children, let alone agree on plans for Christmas time. Mediation between parents means that arguments over who has the kids at Christmas can be resolved in a calm way on neutral territory with an experienced listening ear. There may be ways to work things out that neither parent had thought of.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help separated parents with Mediation, call Frances on 0117 924 3880.