Child Arrangements After Separation
‘What do I need to do about the children?’ This is a question I am often asked by clients whilst I am dealing with their divorce and financial arrangements on relationship breakdown. There are several ways of answering that question in family law:
‘Nothing’ is trite and unhelpful but often correct from a strict legal standpoint, where there are no issues between the parents about how arrangements for the children should be going forward. No formalities are necessary in those circumstances.
Section 1(5) of the Children Act 1989 contains the ‘no order principle’. This says that,
‘where the Court is considering whether or not to make one or more orders under this Act with respect to a child, it shall not make the order … unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all.’
A more helpful answer than simply ‘nothing’, in all cases where there are children and whether or not there are currently issues concerning them, is perhaps something I often say to parents experiencing relationship breakdown, where the children’s needs can become lost in the fray or, sadly, the children are involved by the parents in their adult concerns:
Remember that, whilst your personal relationship has broken down, you will forever be parents to your children. They need to know that they are allowed to continue to love you both and that you will always be there for them. At least, through this process and afterwards try to ensure that you maintain or create a level of civilised communication with your fellow parent so you can discuss your children’s needs as they arise.
Do you have a view? Should there be a requirement to formalise arrangements for children in every case, whether or not there is a current issue?
A new website has been launched which could help any children you know whose parents are parting at: www.Kidsinthemiddle.org.uk
All of us in the Cripps family law team are members of Resolution, a membership of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Email or call us for help in resolving any issues that may be arising for you on your relationship breakdown.
Resolution has many useful resources at www.resolution.org.uk. Included there is access to an excellent publication to which I often refer clients: Separation and Divorce – Helping parents to help children. Sophie Barrett is an associate in the family law team of Cripps and you can view her profile here.