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This week, we are supporting Resolution’s Good Divorce Week to help spread awareness about the ways parents can embrace a child-focused approach to separation. As part of their campaign, Resolution focus on the disputes that may arise between parties in respect of their children and how these may be resolved.
Two of the most common disputes involving children that arise during divorce is where the child should live and arrangements for spending time with the child. Where parties are used to living as a family unit with full-time care of a child, it can be difficult for the party not living with the child to come to terms with spending reduced time with their child. This can therefore lead to heightened emotions during what is already a difficult time for all involved.
One third of separating or divorced parents also stated that they found it harder to keep child arrangement orders in place since that start of the pandemic.
Issues may also arise with handovers, particularly where matters are less amicable between the parties. The logistical stress associated with handovers, such as ensuring the other party is provided with all of the child’s necessary belongings, can also add to this. During this stressful period, it assists when parties have a child-centred approach and respect each other, setting their differences aside for the benefit of the child.
When parties separate, disputes may also arise out of differing parenting styles. Where one party may focus more on discipline, the other party may have feelings of guilt and therefore may have a softer approach towards the child. In these circumstances, communication is key. Parties should avoid ineffective methods of communication, such as texting, and attempt to organise face to face communication to resolve any differences. It is also useful to arrange any face-to-face meetings for a future date, as if emotions are heightened, this will allow parties to reflect on how they feel and what their objectives are rather than reacting impulsively. If parties continue to be in dispute about parenting styles, it could assist to attend co-parenting workshops which can provide techniques to help functional communication.
Mediation is also an effective tool for helping parents to resolve issues, however it should be noted that this method would not be appropriate where there has been high conflict and domestic abuse. Mediators are professionally trained and independent and can guide parents into discussing their issues and reaching a compromise. In some instances, children can be involved in mediation where it may be necessary to ascertain their views and wishes. Collaborative law is another method and involves parties attending face to face discussions with their respective lawyers with a view to negotiating an agreement. The benefit of this method is that parties have the assurance of receiving legal advice, so they can determine whether the agreement reached is reasonable.
It is important that parents are encouraged to try and reach agreement without the need to issue Court proceedings. Collaborative decision making is a child-centred approach to reduce animosity and keep the channels of communication open between parents.
For more help on parenting through separation, read the latest free to access guide from Resolution here. It offers information on separation and divorce, and advice and practical tips on ensuring family break-up has as little impact on children as possible.
At Ramsdens Solicitors, our Family team have collaborative trained lawyers who are experts at helping families settle disputes in a calm and understanding manner. We have helped hundreds of families find solutions to their issues without the need for issuing Court proceedings.