In November 2017, I will be celebrating 10 years post-qualification experience and 10 years specialising in children and family law. As a member of the Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme, I’ve represented numerous children and young people caught in the middle of acrimonious and protracted disputes about how they spend time with their parents. The law starts with a presumption that it is in a child’s interests to spend time with both parents, but in the bitterness and sadness that can come with the end of a relationship it can be hard for parents to make that happen.
Here are my 5 top tips for successful co-parenting as a separated parent:
- Don’t use your children as go-betweens. Talk. If you can’t talk directly without it ending up in an argument, text, email or use a contact book. One day your children may be getting married, graduating or having children of their own and you’re going to make life easier for everyone if you can manage to be in the same room at the same time without falling out.
- The C-Word. Not that one – I mean Christmas (or any other important event). Your children can’t cut themselves in two, and it’s not much fun for them to try. Plan early – the closer it is to Christmas, the harder it is to fit in everyone’s plans. Most children like and benefit from routine –think about a plan which will work for your family so the children know what to expect and Christmas doesn’t become a bone of contention every year.
- Be generous with events like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – if your children are still young, a little help and encouragement for your children to make sure that the other parent gets a card will be hugely appreciated. If Father’s Day falls on a day the children would usually spend with Mum (or vice versa), why not offer a swap? A little goodwill goes a long way.
- Don’t ask your children to choose between their parents – if you’ve more than one child, imagine being asked to choose between them?
- Remember that you know your children best. If a Court has to make plans for your child spending time with his or her parents, they are going to be second best to a plan which you and your child’s other parent work out between you. Contact me for a free initial appointment, when we can talk about mediation, collaborative law and other alternatives to Court.
Have you found ways of co-parenting as a separated parent? Please share them in the comments below.