We have separated – what arrangements should we make for our children?
In this short article, Amy Fallows a solicitor specialising in cases involving children, advises on the best way to make arrangements for children following a separation.
The best arrangements for children are those agreed by parents directly. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate in the early stages of a relationship breaking down. Creating a routine for children is important so try and agree arrangements which are sustainable in the long term.
Communication is the key to a successful parenting relationship post-separation. Try to maintain a line of communication, even if it is only email or text. Avoid discussing the children in front of them or using them as messengers – make time to meet or discuss matters without the children present. Ask a family member or close friend to help you or use a professional family mediation service. Alternatively, our childcare team are experienced in negotiating and establishing arrangements for children.
There is no rule about what is best for a child. All children are individual and have individual needs. If you end up in court, the court will try to establish what is in your child’s best interests.
Arrangements that we regularly see in practice are:
- Children spending one or two evenings a week with the parent they don’t usually live with, either for tea or to stay over
- Parents alternating weekends with each other
- Parents sharing school holidays
However, what works for one family, might not work for another. Where one parent works shifts, the arrangements may need to change each week or work on a 4-week, 6-week or even 8-week cycle. We also see arrangements whereby children spend one week with one parent and then one week with the other. This requires good communication and co-operation to work and it is important that children feel settled in both homes.
There are a million variations on a theme. Keep your children’s best interests in mind at all times and consult a childcare law professional if you are not sure that the arrangements are right for the children.
For further advice, contact Amy Fallows on 01228 552222 or send an email via our contact page.
About the author
Amy is a family law Partner and the coordinator of the employee benefits scheme.