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Leave the kids out of your divorce, warn lawyers

Unhappy couples who have been waiting for the festive season to end to avoid spoiling family celebrations traditionally pick up the phone to lawyers to begin divorce proceedings in January.

Whilst couples may be keen to press ahead with the process, for those who have children, it’s important to take time to consider the impact a divorce and how it is conducted will have on them.

Bharti Shah, partner in the specialist family team at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen says: “This month, as with previous January’s, we anticipate that the number of divorce enquiries we receive will be higher than any other month of the year. For many of those who call us, they are keen to protect their children and make the process as painless as possible.

“The breakdown of a relationship gives rise to many emotions and is a stressful and distressing time for all. Children can suffer greatly when they are exposed to too much emotion or conflict. Often a parent will try to involve children in a hostile way to “get back” at their partner. Parents need to stop and think and consider the impact this can have on their children’s wellbeing and on their future relationships with both parents.”

Bharti has outlined four ways for parents to lessen the impact of divorce on their children:

1) Focus on the best solution for the child

As hard as it might be, the first question any parent must ask is not what I want from the divorce, but what is the best solution for my child, caught up in this situation through no fault of their own. What you want is not the first consideration, you have to focus on the child’s needs. This is the way the courts will see it. The fact is that when deciding on where a child should live the courts aren’t there to protect the feelings of warring parents, they have one guiding principle only, and that is the welfare of the child.

2) Try to compartmentalise all the issues you are facing with your ex

Having seen numerous divorces involving children, the one thing I would say is don’t involve them in adult issues. You have to accept the relationship has moved on but realise that your relationship with your child must be maintained. Try to compartmentalise all the issues you are facing and adapt to life as a co-parent. They may not have been a good spouse to you but that does not mean they are a bad parent to your child.

3) Plan and anticipate issues before they arise

Before Christmas we generally see a rise in the number of parents coming to us because they are in dispute with their ex-partner about who will spend Christmas with their child. Handling these disputes can take time and in many cases, it is not possible to resolve the issue in time.

Parents who are getting used to being separated need to anticipate issues involving holidays, house moves, schooling or other life events in advance and take steps to reach an agreement in good time.

4) Seek help from charities and organisations offering support

There is a lot of help out there for those going through a divorce. Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers and other professionals have an excellent guide for parents going through divorce. The Family Mediation Council explain how family mediation works and includes a search facility for finding a local mediator and Splitting Up? Put Kids First has an online interactive parenting plan offered by One Plus One, and includes links to videos that help you to communicate better with your ex.


For further information, please contact: Kerry Jack on 07525 756 599 or email: