Living arrangements for children after a separation
Following a separation, parents usually want to minimise any disruption to their children, ensuring that they soon settle into a new routine – whether that is in the existing family home, or following a move to a new home.
Where your children live may be an obvious and straightforward decision, for example if one parent works abroad or has a job which makes it difficult to accommodate childcare. For other families, the decision can be more complicated.
We understand and appreciate that not all relationships end in the same way – some end on bad terms whereas others may end on civil terms. It is, however, important for the sake of the children to keep lines of communication open where it is safe to do so in furthering the best possible arrangements for the children.
Poor communication between parents can be upsetting for children because they may be stuck in the middle of a dispute.
There are likely to be numerous occasions during your children’s lives, and even into their adulthood when they will want both of their parents by their side, such as school plays, sport’s days or even later into life at their graduation ceremony or wedding. Keeping things on the right footing can make a difference to your children in the short and longer-term.
Depending on the age of your children, significant weight may also be given to their own wishes and feelings and where they would like to live. For example, if your children are in school and have a circle of friends in the area, they may be unhappy at the thought of moving to a new area. They may also be distressed if such a move means they are unlikely to see their other parent regularly.
If you are able to agree matters as parents, then it is possible to have that agreement formalised into a written agreement or formalised into a court order, if you would like the certainty and security of a legally binding document. This will ensure that the terms are properly recorded, and it should lead to fewer problems in the future.
On occasion it may not be possible to reach an agreement.
If so, your solicitor can advise you of the different options that will be available to you to reach a resolution. Your solicitor can advise you on the welfare and practical considerations you should take account of when discussing your children’s future living arrangements with your former partner. You will need to decide where the children should live, and how much time they will spend with each parent, and which parent will be responsible for collecting and returning them from visits. Some focus should also be given to birthdays, Christmas, how school holidays will be split and how the children will be supported financially.
If you find yourself in a scenario where you fear that an agreement will never be reached, or would just like to know what your rights are as a Mother or Father then it is wise to obtain early expert legal advice. Our Family Law solicitors have a wealth of experience and can help guide you through the legal principals and advise you of the different ways in which you can resolve matters.