How To: Divorce as a Family


Going through a divorce can be distressing time for every member of the family – not least for your children. Maintaining contact when you're going through the process is of paramount importance; practical and actionable advice that allows you to divorce as a family is a good way to foster amicable relationships between you and your partner after you break up.

Children of divorce

Emma Pearmaine, our Head of Family Law explains how to best do this, for you, and your children.

Parental Responsibility and Contact

If you are going through a divorce and there are children to think about, it is worth knowing about parental responsibility:

  1. If you were married when your child was born, both parents would be deemed to have parental responsibility (PR).
  2. Having PR does not mean you have automatic access to your child, but it does mean you are responsible for protecting and maintaining your child - and you get a say in where they live.

Maintaining your child financially is often where contentions lie, and can lead to a cut in contact hours or not seeing your child at all. Whether you are seeing your child regularly or not, you still have the financial responsibility of taking care of them. Some parents play a risky strategy when they are the non-resident parent and stop paying maintenance because they have not been granted contact, but this rarely ends in an agreeable outcome.

What You Can Do Now

There are many practical things to do whilst you're divorcing to maintain contact with your child. If the negotiation process breaks down and you decide to take the issue to court, following this advice could help your case:

  • Continue to pay for your child's maintenance. If the issue does go to court, it demonstrates that although you may not be able to see your child regularly, you have tried your best to provide for them in your absence.
  • Avoid conversations with your ex-partner that may cause conflict, especially during the handover of your child at the end of your contact. Arguments can lead to the contact being cut off in the future
  • Don't discuss the other parent with the child. This can, in some instances, look like you are trying to create ill feelings between the child and the other parent and this type of situation never ends well in court.
  • Follow up any agreements you do make in writing for both parties to see. This will ensure that solid agreements can be established without misunderstandings for either party.
  • Encourage your child to have a good time with the other parent. Children pick up on hostile situations easily so putting them at ease when they want to see the other parent is a good thing to do.
  • Learn to swap and share dates when needed. The most important thing is to stay in contact with your child, whenever and however you can.

Simpson Millar Can Help You

If you're going through a divorce and kids are involved, it can be useful to get an expert opinion on your rights as a parent. Not every case has to go to court, and we would suggest this as the best course of action – but every case should be guided by the expertise of a family solicitor.

Here at Simpson Millar we can give you the jargon-free legal advice to get the best outcome for you and your family. Your children's best interests are the most important thing when you are divorcing, and we take special care to ensure this is the case.

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