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Divorce and separation involving children

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When parents decide to end their relationship there are many matters to consider. Who stays in the family home and who moves out? Does the family home have to be sold? But often the most important question parents consider is how will this impact on the children?
During difficult times, it is hard to remain amicable, but the majority of solicitors will suggest to their clients that they should try to keep matters friendly for the sake of the children. When parents separate, the children very often don’t want this to happen and will desperately try to keep their family together. However, sometimes, although the children may not realise it now, it may be best for parents to separate to stop the ongoing conflict in the family.
When this happens parents should consider what is in the best interests of the children when it comes to dealing with who the children should live with and how often the children should see both parents.
Many parents feel that it is their right to see their children. However this is not the view taken by the Court. If matters cannot be agreed and the Court becomes involved, the Court considers the child’s right to have contact with their parents and what is in the best interests of the children. When parents no longer live together, both parents must accept that they cannot see the children all the time. Parents should try and compromise. Courts try to encourage parents to negotiate and reach agreements between themselves. Parents are usually more accommodating of agreements when they have been involved in the negotiations. However, if agreements cannot be reached, parents run the risk that the Court will make a decision that one or both parents may not like.
A good way for parents to try and reach agreements is to attend mediation. At Stephensons, we can refer clients to local mediators to try and assist in these matters. If mediation doesn’t work then we can assist by corresponding with the other parent to try and reach an agreement. Stephensons firmly believes in encouraging matters to be dealt with amicably and due to this, we are part of Resolution. Resolution is an organisation of 5700 lawyers who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.
If no agreement can be reached, then taking matters to Court may be the only solution. Court proceedings are undoubtedly stressful for both parents and the decision to initiate Court proceedings should not be taken lightly. However in some cases this cannot be avoided.
At all times, Stephensons will encourage our clients to think about the children and their wishes and feelings, which can sometimes be forgotten. Parents separating causes upset and stress for all parties involved, however, it is children that suffer the most when this happens. If you have to go through a separation involving children, try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and think how it must feel for them. By remaining amicable (as difficult as this may be) will in the long run make matters easier for you and your children.
By family law solicitor, Laura Hankinson