When couples split-up this can be a very difficult and challenging time for the children. They have to adjust to new family arrangements and learn to live with their parents separately in different spaces at different times.
The way the transition is managed is important as parents will need to adapt to living apart and managing communication between them. It is also important that children know the breakdown is not their fault. With the right support, parents will be able to make plans that have their children’s best interests at heart and will be able to co-parent successfully.
Child arrangements are a difficult part of any family separation and can lead to emotional discussions about where the children will live and how they will spend time with their parents, guardians, and wider families.
It can be difficult to know what arrangements need to be made, who can help you with these arrangements and what kind of framework will be needed to produce happy, well-balanced adults at the end of their childhood.
There are many options to consider when agreeing child arrangements and how you will co-parent your children. Co-parenting starts with simple steps, such as eye contact at handovers and speaking to each other in a polite/civil manner. You will need to decide which is the most appropriate route for you and your family:
- Informal Agreements: Agreements which can be verbal or written.
- Co-parenting Frameworks: Structured written agreements.
- Mediated Agreements: Family mediation can help you agree on child arrangements at any time during or after separation or divorce. Child Inclusive Mediation offers children, of a suitable age, a safe and neutral space to express their feelings and wishes to an independent Family Mediator when their parents are making decisions about child arrangements.
- Child Arrangements Order: If there are serious safeguarding issues and/or you are not able to agree on contact arrangements with your ex outside of court, as a last resort, you may want to consider applying to the court for a child arrangements order.
If you are not able to agree on contact, or if there are any safeguarding issues, you may want to consider contact through a contact centre whilst arrangements are finalised. Contact centres are situated throughout Kent and can offer supported or supervised contact as well as handover assistance.
Family therapy may assist you and your family in resolving issues. You can find a suitable therapist here.
There are a lot of professional and charitable resources available in Kent that can help support you to ensure that you are working towards creating the most positive environment for your children. See the right-hand side of this page for more information.
Top tips for separating parents written by children can be found here.