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 in which this transition is managed is vitally important as is the way in which parents adapt to living apart and managing communication. It is also important that children know the breakdown is not their fault and with the right support their parents will be able to make plans that have their children’s best interests at heart. Co-parenting starts with simple steps, such as eye contact at handovers and courtesy in the way parents speak to each other.
Child arrangements are a difficult part of any family separation and can lead to emotional discussions about where the child or children will live and how they will spend time with their parents, guardians, and wider families. Following family separation, 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 and 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, between those with parental responsibility – usually Mum and Dad. Download a structure for an informal co-parenting agreement here.
- Co-parenting Frameworks: Structured written agreements between those with parental responsibility – usually Mum and Dad. Download a structure for a co-parenting framework here.
- Mediated Agreements: Family mediation can help you agree on child arrangements at any time during or after separation or divorce. To find out more about Family Mediation, how it works and to find a Family Mediator near you CLICK HERE.
- 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. CLICK HERE to Mediation and you may find it useful to watch this video:
- Family therapy – CLICK HERE to find your local Family Therapist.
- Contact at a Contact Centre: If you are not able to agree on contact or if there are any safeguarding issues or court orders inlace you may want to consider contact through a Contact Centre. Contact Centres are situated throughout Kent and can offer ‘supported’ ‘supervised’ or ‘handover’ contact. CLICK HERE to find out more about contact centres.
- Court Orders: If there are serious safeguarding issues and/or you are not able to agree on contact arrangements with your ex through mediation, or if mediation has broken down or deemed unsuitable, as a last resort you may want to consider applying to the court for an order CLICK HERE to read more about Court.
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 sidebar for more information.