How to be parents post separation

Sally Clark Blog

Family life will be different after separation or divorce but it is possible to continue to parent your children together effectively. Here are a few things to consider, both during the divorce process and afterwards.

1. Talk about your role as parents. During mediation sessions or when you are negotiating arrangements for your children with your solicitor, it is useful to talk together about your continuing role as parents. As well as making sure the topic doesn’t become a taboo, it can also help you to keep your children’s interests at the top of the agenda.

2. Speak regularly. Good communication is the secret of amicable divorce and discussing your role as parents openly with one another at every opportunity can set a pattern for the future, making it much easier for you all to move forward as a family. Whenever possible, pick up the phone to talk about your children or arrange to meet face to face so that you can have a proper discussion rather than leaving everything to text and email, which is not always as effective.

3. Set some ground rules. Co-parenting after separation and divorce is not always easy so it is useful to have some guidelines that have been discussed and agreed in advance. These might relate to things like who is responsible for childcare on which days and how you will both make sure that homework is completed. It could also involve discussing boundaries that both parents agree on such as what is a reasonable bedtime or how late the children should be allowed to stay out with friends.

4. Show unity. Children can be quick to pick up on divisions between their parents and to exploit any inconsistencies. This is true for all parents, not just those who are separated, but it can be more difficult for mums and dads to show support for one another when they are no longer living together. Children like to know where they stand and it is reassuring for them to know that their parents agree on issues that involve them. Using positive language and showing support for one another’s decisions and opinions in front of your children is a powerful way to ensure you continue to be effective parents.

5. Share the good times. Family life is full of ups and downs and it is a common trait of separated parents that they tend to consult one another more often when things are not going well. Don’t forget to celebrate family successes and events together too such as birthdays, exam results, graduations and, further down the line, weddings and christenings.

6. Making plans. School holidays and family occasions can easily become sources of conflict which is why it can be helpful to make a calendar and discuss how some of the main events through the year will be handled. This will help to avoid last minute demands to take the children to family gatherings or on holiday without the other parent being aware.

7. Every family is different. Finally, it is worth pointing out that amicable divorce and successful co-parenting mean different things to different people. Whereas some parents may remain on such good terms that they choose to continue taking their holidays together as a family, others may find it takes all their energy to remain civil to one another. There is no right or wrong way to approach parenting after separation or divorce. The most important thing is to put thought into how you will manage things and minimise conflict, putting your children’s interests first at all times.

In summary it is not the fact of separation necessarily which is the most important factor but how you separation and how you each behave. We can help guide you the process so that you can resolve matters in an amicable and cost effective manner as possible. For more information and a free initial consultation please contact us on 01423 63727 or enquiries@clarkfamilylaw.co.uk