CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have recently been working with the Family Forum Group (consisting of parents, carers, and extended family members who have had direct experiences in the children proceedings) in order to find helpful tips in assisting separated parents with the impact that proceedings will have on children and the extended family.
From the many tips identified by CAFCASS and the Family Forum Group, the following are the most important, as identified by the TSP Family Department, which should be considered by separating parents to minimise any impact this may have on your children.
- Court Proceedings should be a last resort – Whilst it seems obvious, it’s very true! Not only can Court proceedings be expensive, but they are also time-consuming. As a rippling effect from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Family Court has yet to return to pre-pandemic service, resulting in proceedings taking far longer than before. This additional strain upon the Court also needing to list regular updating hearings has resulted in longer time periods between hearings. With all these delays, this can have a damaging effect on your children’s emotional wellbeing and their relationship with both parents. It is crucial to consider other ways to resolve issues, such as Mediation or instructing a collaborative Lawyer, to try and resolve matters before going to Court.
- Good communication – It is important that the two parents have good communication with each other and the children can see that they both have their best interests at heart. Openly arguing and criticising each other in front of your children may make them think otherwise. Good communication can be achieved in different ways. The most obvious method is by being verbally positive about each other whenever the children are present. It is imperative that you always keep your conversations with each other, as parents, child-focused and refrain from using derogatory language about each other, either verbally or via messages. During these type of proceedings, it is often clear that both parents do love their children and ultimately want the best for them.
- Support your children – Any proceedings involving children can be stressful and emotionally draining. It is vital that you not only take care of yourself, but you also take care of your children’s emotional needs as well, especially if they are struggling to process your separation from the other parent. Do not fear seeking advice from professionals, such as the school or your GP, about the best way to support your children with any difficulties they may be having. Always remember that should you consider (or be advised) that your children should seek assistance from a therapist, then you should seek to obtain permission from the other parent before proceeding. This is where it is key to have a good line of communication with the other parent and always focus on your children’s best interests. Furthermore, you should openly encourage and support your children to have a relationship with all of their grandparents and other family members, as long as it is safe to do so. Remember they love your children too and want to maintain a relationship with them.
- Avoid publicising any difficulties – Always avoid sharing your current difficulties on Social Media as your children may become aware of these posts, especially if they are of an age where they can see your Social Media post(s). Furthermore, it is highly likely that the other parent, or even mutual friends, will see any posts that you may make about the breakdown of your relationship, or about any issues you may be encountering together. Keeping yourself away from social media during this stressful time will not only avoid any potential embarrassment and unnecessary upset, but it could also mean that there is less risk of damage to any good communication that you may have built between yourself and the other parent.
If you are experiencing any issues regarding children matters, and you wish to speak to a member of our Family Department, please get in touch, and we can arrange an appointment to discuss what can be done to help you further.