Sponsored item from Andrew Meehan at Harrogate Family Law
I am always keen to stress the the benefits of shared parenting and amicable divorce but what if your ex makes life difficult when it’s your turn to spend time with the kids?
If your former partner is the parent the children “live with” (in other words, the children spend the majority of their time living there and come to you at set times such as weekends and school holidays) he or she might not always be co-operative when it’s your turn to see the children.
If you find visits are regularly being cancelled at the last minute because your kids have been invited to a party, are unwell or too tired or need to stay at home because relatives are visiting, it could be a signal that you need to seek legal advice to make sure their relationship with you and your family isn’t put under threat.
When situations like this arise we can help with negotiations and in most cases this resolves matters without the need to involve the courts. Occasionally, however, we will have to make an application for an order which sets out times for your children to spend with you. When this happens, the family court will make its decision based on what it believes is in the best interests of the child.
How to avoid conflict over child arrangements
These days the courts strive to encourage what is often referred to as co-parenting or shared parenting.
The working hours of both parents and the over-riding need to create a stable and consistent home environment means that many children will spend the majority of their time with one parent. The difficulty, particularly when the children are young, is that this means their parents will need to have a good level of communication to make arrangements between themselves. That’s not always easy when emotions are running high following a relationship breakup.
There’s no easy answer to this and although we always encourage parents to put their children’s interests first, we recognise the stress and tension involved. We try and tackle this before it becomes a problem, during separation negotiations. That might mean agreeing a plan for a 12 month period that includes school holidays, to avoid the need for frequent discussion and negotiation. We may also suggest adding key dates to a family calendar so that both parents and the children are clear about the arrangements for common flashpoints such as Christmas, birthdays and family gatherings. Children like routine and certainty so the more organised you can be with your planning, the happier everyone is likely to be.