Featured
A lesser known risk of online first, meeting later
Dating apps have changed the way we meet potential partners. But, while they can help take some of the hassle out of meeting new people, there’s one risk you may not have considered. Apps like Tinder, OkCupid or Hinge can widen your dating pool by connecting you with other single people you might not otherwise have met. They can also give you information much faster than you might get it in real life. By the time you and a potential partner have decided you want to meet up, you may already have learned lots about each other that might have taken weeks in the real world [1]. This early interaction can remove much of the mystery of dating and help speed up the process of getting to know each other. It can also help to know that there is at least some attraction between you by the time you first meet [1]. Yet, relationship research has shown that this can set many online daters up for failure. Think about the process of building your own dating profile. It’s impossible to give a complete picture so you pick and choose – and, naturally, you want to present your best side. You select the best photos, make the most of your interests, and generally remain on your best behaviour while trying to convince potential matches that they should pick you. This is a normal part of the dating process but what you may not have considered is that we tend to idealise the people we’re getting to know through apps. As you get to know someone online, you build up a version of them in your mind, based partly on reality and partly on filling in the blanks left by their profile. Over time, this imaginary version can become very compelling [2]. When you meet, the imaginary version makes way for the real thing – sometimes, this will be a person you want to continue dating and sometimes it won’t. However, if your online interaction goes on for too long without meeting up, the imagined version gets so ingrained that the real thing doesn’t have a hope of living up to it. The longer you delay the face-to-face meeting, the greater the risk that you’ll be disappointed with each other, and the less likely the relationship is to succeed [2]. So, the next time your dating app presents you with someone you think you might like, don’t wait too long to meet them. Give them the best opportunity to live up to the version of them that you think you’ve been talking to and you the best chance of meeting the real them! References [1] LeFebvre, L. E. (2018). Swiping me off my feet: Explicating relationship initiation on Tinder. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(9), 1205-1229. [2] Ramirez, A., Sumner, E., Fleuriet, C., & Cole, M. (2015). When Online Dating Partners Meet Offline: The Effect of Modality Switching on Relational Communication Between Online Daters. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 20(1), 99-114.
Article | dating, online dating
“Post 16 court contact”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   We have had a court order in place for a number of years. The children have never missed a contact; however they are now 16 and 15 and have made it clear to me that they are "fed up" with spending their time with someone who - apparently - has little to say to them, and makes nasty comments to the kids all the time when he does open his mouth. It is almost as if the contact order is just being observed to serve his need to control them - it doesn't seem to be about spending quality time with 2 kids who are brilliant company. The kids have said that once the younger son gets to 16, they "are done" - I have told them things will get better, but after 6 years of this contact and support from me, encouragement and assurances it will get better, it just hasn't. It breaks my heart to see how angry they get when they come back and have had an unsuccessful contact. I am at a loss, and my ex will not speak to me (only via Solicitors and hasn't spoken to me for over 8 years). If they tell him they no longer wish to go, can I be dragged back to court? Should this come from them to him? I doubt he will listen as they have asked before for things to improve with him and he just laughs at them and says they are idiots. One time my elder son was poorly during contact and had asked to go home earlier; he refused and made them stay until the appointed time. My eldest is about to turn 17 and will be driving soon. He wishes to get a Saturday job, and this will prove impossible - the Court Order clearly states a Saturday, and we have persistently re-jigged our lives to make sure they attend (which we do because I want them to have a positive male role model). I am also bitterly disappointed that this could have been seen as a chance for my ex to build a lovely relationship with his kids, but seems to have used it as a controlling mechanism instead. I would have expected them to say they were having a great time and ask that they have extra time - which would have been great, but it just hasn't happened. I see other kids who have a great time with their dads and my heart bleeds for them. I never badmouth or speak ill of my ex - it was a shame it didn't work out, but the kids did not need to suffer the way that they have been subjected to such nastiness from someone who is supposed to love them unconditionally (regardless of the fact he hates my guts - I appreciate I am 50% DNA of the kids and I think that may be the issue). If they turn round and refuse to go once the youngest is 16, can I force them? Can I physically drag them to contact? My eldest son is a strapping lad now and this may prove difficult. If I get taken back to court if they refuse, will the court listen to the kids as they will be 16 and 17? I am worrying now that after all these years of being compliant and supportive, I may get jailed.
User article | breach, legal rights, contact
Managing handovers with your ex-partner
Handovers can be very difficult, especially if you are feeling awkward or upset at the prospect of facing your ex. You may have to exercise some self-control just to stay calm.If you still have very raw feelings about your ex, you may be tempted to use handovers as an opportunity to speak your mind. Keep in mind that children are very sensitive to the feelings and attitudes around them and that they will pick up on conflict between their parents. For your children’s sake, it’s important to try and make handovers as pleasant as possible.Some handover etiquette: Be courteous. Turn up on time – let the other parent know if you are delayed. Make sure the children have everything they need. Keep difficult conversations away from the children. If you are struggling with this, consider alternative ways of managing the handovers so that your children are protected. Dealing with change over time Transitions are difficult for everyone, especially in the early days. Coming face-to-face with your ex and saying goodbye to your children can bring up some very difficult feelings. It can help to have something planned for the time immediately following the handover so that you can remain upbeat. While it’s hard now, you may eventually come to value the opportunity to have some space to yourself.Children have their own feelings to cope with at handover time. They will need time to settle down, adjust to being in a different home, and get used to their mum or dad not being there. Transitions can be sad reminders to children that their parents aren't together anymore and it's not unusual for young children to come home from a weekend with the other parent in a bad mood. Understanding this can help you manage your expectations, and cope with any changes in your child's behaviour.
Article | parenting apart, ex-partner
2 min read
Your first Christmas Day as a co-parent
Is this your first Christmas as a separated parent? Not sure what to expect or how to handle your new family setup? These tips from amicable’s divorce experts offers pragmatic advice to help you keep things merry for your co-parenting Christmas. 1. Plan ahead Don’t leave plans to the last minute. Many parents make arrangements a year in advance and have Christmas plans documented in a parenting plan. This can take the sting out of negotiating, especially if you do it at a time when you’re on good terms and not trying to angle for a specific outcome. If you haven’t got a parenting plan, you can use our free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First. However you plan things, make sure there’s plenty of time for everyone’s views to be heard and time to get used to the arrangements. 2. Start new traditions Divorce can bring feelings of grief, and never more so than when you start contemplating ‘how things used to be’. The ending of traditions can be tough to get used to. Now is the time to be creative and invent new ways of doing Christmas. Involve your kids in planning the day, and focus on embracing change. Open your presents at a different time, have a walk after lunch instead of before, or just go nuts and eat all the Quality Street at midnight – it’s up to you to reinvent your family Christmas. Your energy and embracing of change will filter down to your kids and their experience of Christmas. 3. Who should the children spend their day with? If your children are old enough to have their say on how they want to spend Christmas, then account for this, even if it feels unfair to you. Listen to what the kids want and try and accommodate their needs and wants. If they are too little, then consider splitting the time either on the day or over the Christmas period. Try to minimise the to-ing and fro-ing, as this can cause unnecessary stress, especially if you live far apart. 4. Be realistic Typically, parents are very sensitive to Christmas being a special day and want to do the right thing. Your children might push for you all to spend the day together as a family. If you feel this is achievable, that’s great, but for many parents it just isn’t a realistic prospect. An atmosphere of tension on Christmas Day is not good for anyone, but it’s especially tough for the kids. Be realistic – if spending the day or even a short time together will cause tension, then don’t go there. They will cope more easily with seeing you separately than having to deal with you being angry or upset with each other. 5. Kids not with you on the day? If your kids aren’t with you on the day, don’t sit at home – make your own plans. Embrace the day, be inventive, and make it your alternative Christmas. Take the opportunity to spend the day with friends or family or indulge in some me time. So many families have multiple Christmas Days so, if that’s what works for your family, then make a plan and set a date to have your own Christmas Day with the kids. The main thing to remember is that Christmas should be about your children and forming safe, loving environments for them. If you want any ideas about planning your Christmas as a co-parent, join amicable’s online community for people going through divorce and separation.
Article | christmas, contact, separation, amicable
4 min read
Children and non-resident parents
Children benefit from being in regular contact with their non-resident parents but the frequency and quality of this contact can decline over time. A research paper published by The Ministry of Justice looked into the how a child's wellbeing is affected by the relationship they have with the parent they don’t live with. The report (pdf) also looked at the courts’ involvement in settling contact and financial arrangements and the impact these can have on a child’s outcomes as they grow up. The study followed a group of children whose parents had separated by the time they were seven years old. It looked at levels of court involvement in parental separation, and the frequency and quality of the contact between the children and the non-resident parents. Researchers then looked at outcomes for children when they were aged eleven, paying particular attention to: Subjective wellbeing (children’s moods and emotions). Antisocial behaviours, like drinking, smoking, or breaking the law. Social and behavioural problems. How good they were at making decisions around risky behaviour. Contact declines over time According to the report, the level of contact between children and their non-resident parents tends to decline over time, in terms of both frequency and quality. Among children of separated parents, the ones that had the best outcomes at age eleven were those who had had the most contact with their non-resident parents. This can be harder to manage if you’re struggling financially, but it’s important to try and maintain regular quality time together. Even after a separation, you and your ex-partner continue to have a relationship as co-parents, so it’s really important to look after this relationship in as supportive a way as possible. Put your children first and, wherever safe, try to ensure they spend time with both parents. If you’re a non-resident parent and you feel like you don’t get enough time with your children, there are a few helpful things you can work on: Try to resolve your differences with your ex-partner, using external support like mediation where necessary. If you can’t resolve your differences, try to keep your disputes and conflict away from the children. Draw up a parenting plan. Stick to the agreed arrangements, particularly if these have been agreed by the courts. Use the time you do have together to work on developing a bond with your child. You may not love your child’s other parent anymore – you may even resent them or be angry with them – but maintaining contact can protect your child against the negative effects of separation. It might be necessary to set your own feelings aside, at least in the beginning.
Article | contact, non-resident
3 min read
Co-parenting a disabled child
All relationships go through periods of change and challenge. Some parents find these experiences bring them closer together, while others are overwhelmed by the experience and struggle to stay together. If things have broken down and you have decided to separate, we have some hints and tips to help you carry on caring for your child, whether you live with them or not.No longer living under the same roof as your children will inevitably affect the level of contact you have with them and it will usually be necessary to agree contact arrangements with your former partner. Legally, a person with parental responsibility cannot be denied contact with their child without the intervention of the courts. Of course, it will usually be best if both parents can discuss and agree appropriate arrangements informally. You’ll need to work together with your ex to ensure you can provide the full support your child needs from both parents. Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in how disabled children integrate into school and social life [4] and non-resident parents play an important role in this [5]. As separated parents, working together makes you more effective at providing a responsive parenting role, and more likely to have a better relationship with your child [6].This kind of collaboration between separated parents is known as co-parenting. Communicating with your ex For some parents, having to maintain contact with one another and sort out arrangements for the children can be a huge strain. If you’re still upset with your ex-partner, you may be finding it difficult to communicate with them. However, it’s important to try and set your disagreements aside long enough to get your living arrangements in order and make a collaborative parenting plan that means your child has a stable environment or environments where they can get the best possible support from both of you [3]. Here are some tips to help you communicate with your ex and protect your children from any fallout from the separation:   avoid blaming yourself or your partner agree not to let your own relationship issues get into the discussion create some rules together about how best to manage meetings continue at another time if you feel discussions sliding into tricky waters don’t communicate with your partner through your child focus on child-related issues; it can help keep your dialogue clear and to the point work on a parenting plan together don’t argue with your partner about the children in front of them. This will only increase their sense of guilt and blame about the break up. Supporting your children Helping your child through a period of separation or divorce is challenging as you come to terms with your own feelings. But there are things you can do that can help. Keeping children informed about what is happening will help to prevent them blaming themselves and worrying unnecessarily. You can help children feel more secure by helping them to express their feelings, letting them know that you understand how they feel, and making sure they feel they can ask questions if they want to, will help. Children often feel a great sense of loss and letting them grieve is an important part of helping them to deal with the situation and to move on to accept the changes in their family relationships. They may also express anger towards you, whilst this can be hurtful, try not to take it too personally as it can be a sign they are finding it hard to cope. Denial is also a common response. A child will naturally have hopes and fantasies about the family, such as wanting you all to be reunited. Talking about these feelings, without raising false hopes, will help your child to move on. Avoid criticising your ex-partner in front of the children. It can be very upsetting for them and leave them feeling forced to take sides. Mothers and fathers Research has shown that mothers and fathers of disabled children can experience stress differently. Mothers’ stress tends to be focused around the daily caring tasks [7], while fathers are more likely to worry about their emotional attachment with the child [8]. If you are the parent with the main caring duties, you may need to ask for some extra support from friends and family to help you stay on top of daily care. If you are the non-resident parent, you may want to schedule in regular phone calls between visits to help stay in touch and maintain the connection with your child. Working together As a co-parent, you still have a parenting role to perform, even if you don’t live with your child. While you may not be in a couple relationship anymore, you and your child’s other parent will need to maintain a co-operative parenting relationship to give your child the maximum benefit of your care. If you are the resident parent, part of your role will be to share information with your child’s other parent and, assuming it is safe and meets any court requirements in place, ensure that they have access to your child. While it can be hard to let your ex-partner into your routines, it’s important to be open and welcoming for the sake of your child, particularly when there is important information to share about medical care and other additional needs [1]. Face-to-face visits are the best way to maintain good quality parent-child relationships but if you live a long way away from your child, frequent contact through emails, phone calls, or video calls can help make up for some of this distance [9]. Staying in touch with your ex can also help you plan for unexpected events, like your child leaving something they need at the other parent’s home. You don’t necessarily have to spend intensive time together, as long as you both commit to the agreed arrangements and stay in touch about important decisions. If you are struggling to maintain a good relationship with your child’s other parent, you can use the free parenting plan at Splitting Up? Put Kids First to keep on top of parenting arrangements without having to interact directly. References [1] Newacheck, P. W., Inkelas, M., & Kim, S. E. (2004). Health services use and health care expenditures for children with disabilities. Pediatrics, 114(1), 79-85. [2] Roberts, K., & Lawton, D. (2001). Acknowledging the extra care parents give their disabled children. Child: care, health and development, 27(4), 307-319. [3] Shandra, C. L., Hogan, D. P., & Spearin, C. E. (2008). Parenting a child with a disability: An examination of resident and non-resident fathers. Journal of Population Research, 25(3), 357-377. [4] Pascall, G., & Hendey, N. (2004). Disability and transition to adulthood: the politics of parenting. Critical Social Policy, 24(2), 165-186. [5] Amato, P. R., & Gilbreth, J. G. (1999). Nonresident fathers and children's well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 557-573. [6] Sobolewski, J. M., & King, V. (2005). The importance of the coparental relationship for nonresident fathers’ ties to children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1196-1212. [7] Pelchat, D., Lefebvre, H., & Perreault, M. (2003). Differences and similarities between mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of parenting a child with a disability. Journal of child health care, 7(4), 231-247. [8] Cohen, M. S. (1999). Families coping with childhood chronic illness: A research review. Families, Systems, & Health, 17(2), 149. [9] McGene, J., & King, V. (2012). Implications of new marriages and children for coparenting in nonresident father families. Journal of family issues, 33(12), 1619-1641.
Article | co-parenting, parenting apart
5 min read
Agreeing on medical treatment
What is happening? For many separated parents, as their relationship with their partner comes to an end, their parental partnership continues forward. Even if there’s no love (or at least, no romantic love) left between one another as parents, the shared love for your child remains and grows. But of course, such parental partnerships are rarely easy or straightforward, and for many parents of disabled children, extra stresses and complexities are likely to pop up. These can cause friction and disagreements.These disagreements will vary parent to parent, often depending on the condition of the child. But, according to research, the two main points of disagreement for separated parents of disabled children are [1]: The medical treatment their child’s needs The educational approach for their learning needs “If parents disagree on treatment or educational approaches for their special needs child, separation and/or divorce usually magnify these differences.”[1]                                                                                  In other words, if you struggled to agree on these subjects when you were a couple, there's a good chance it will be harder to agree when you're separated.  How can I help? If your child’s medical treatment is being discussed with a doctor, a specialist, or healthcare member, make sure that you encourage one another to attend appointments together wherever possible. It can be helpful to carry the mind-set that your partnership needs work and effort in the same way that your relationship once did. So, if it feels uncomfortable to attend medical and healthcare meetings together, it may be worth pushing through the awkwardness and the tension for the sake of improving the partnership. Consider using an online parenting plan with your ex-partner, and choose one that allows you to customise it for specific issues. Parenting plans like “Splitting Up? Put Kids First” will allow you to choose your own category, e.g. “Medical treatment for our child”, where you can write down your suggestions and proposals. Your partner would then respond and either agree or disagree with what you’ve put forward. Eventually, you can reach joint decisions and make agreements while keeping emotions and friction to a minimum. Whether you’re talking face-to-face, via a parenting plan or through a series of texts, try to place a real emphasis on respecting one another and using clear communication. It’s going to be difficult to separate your emotions, but your child and your parental partnership with your ex will benefit from your efforts.     If you’re going through a separation or a divorce, you can help to minimise the negative effects that separation can cause on your child’s development and well-being by focussing on the partnership with your ex-partner and the shared love of your child. And, by being active and finding ways to work together as a partnership, your ex-partner may be more responsive and agreeable, knowing how much you want to make the parent partnership work. References: [1] Pickar, Daniel B., and Robert L. Kaufman. “Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children: Applying a Risk-Assessment Model.” Family Court Review 53, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 113–33.
Article | disability, parenting
4 min read
Managing parenting styles after separation
When parents separate and emotions are running high, it can be hard to find common ground, but the parenting relationship continues long after the couple relationships ends. You and your ex-partner will have to find a way to make it work, even if you have different parenting styles. Parenting styles    Parenting styles are not set in stone, but you might recognise bits of yourself or your ex in one of these: Authoritarian. Authoritarian parenting is a very strict style, with rules that aren’t to be questioned by children. It can be effective in the short term but may be damaging to children’s confidence and self-esteem [1]. Permissive. Permissive parenting has very few rules and parents tend to take on more of a friendship role. Children raised without clear boundaries sometimes struggle to cope with stress when they get older [2]. Authoritative. Authoritative parenting is more balanced. Rules and guidelines are explained to children, and balanced with warmth and caring. Children with this type of background tend to be more confident and socially responsible, and better at making decisions for themselves [1]. Parents whose styles differ can find it hard to reach agreements, even when they are together. If you’ve separated from your child’s other parent, it may seem impossible. But, if you work together, you’ll find you can reach compromises and ensure that your child’s best interests are prioritised [3]. Parenting after separation When parents split up, one of the biggest risks to children’s wellbeing comes from the increased conflict they witness. Having a positive relationship with your ex can minimise this risk [3], so it’s important to try and share parenting in a collaborative way. There are bound to be some disagreements but you can protect your children by making sure you don’t argue in front of them or put them in the middle of your conflict.  Don’t ask your children to spy on your ex. Don’t make them responsible for sharing information about living arrangements or money. Don’t use time spent with one parent or the other as a punishment or reward. Don’t lean on your children for emotional support when you are sad or angry about your separation. Don’t try to convince your children that you are right and your ex is wrong.  Work things out with your ex. Talk about what each of you feels is best for the children – not for yourselves – and agree to make compromises. Find common parenting ground A parenting plan can help you sort out the practical arrangements. The free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First allows you to come up with agreements and compromises online so you can review each other’s suggestions without having to get together face to face. There are some specific communication skills that can help you get on better with your ex-partner and get through the conversations that you need to have. The course Getting it Right for Children, can help you with these skills: Staying calm. Active listening. Seeing things from different perspectives. Speaking for yourself. Sticking to the rules. Negotiating solutions. Working things out, and trying the solutions you have agreed. The course is free and may help you to and your ex find solutions that make life easier for your children as they adjust to their new circumstances. Parents who have taken this course showed improvements in the following areas: Talking to their ex-partners about childcare. Keeping conflict away from children. Staying out of court. Keeping calm with ex-partners. Seeing things from each other’s points of view. Agreeing on childcare solutions [4]. These tools can help you get through the initial transition or a difficult period later on. Your parenting styles and your children’s needs will naturally develop over the course of time, so it’s always useful to be able to communicate well and reach compromises.  When disagreements arise, keep talking. When your styles clash again, look for common ground. Keep practising and remember: no matter how you and your ex-partner might feel about each other, the best solutions are the ones that work for your children. References [1] Baumrind, D. (1991). The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56–95. [2] Benson, M. J., Buehler, C., & Gerard, J. M. (2008). Interparental Hostility and Early Adolescent Problem Behavior: Spillover via Maternal Acceptance, Harshness, Inconsistency, and Intrusiveness. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 28(3), 428–454. [3] Chen, M. and Johnston, C. (2012). Interparent Childrearing Disagreement, but not Dissimilarity, Predicts Child Problems after Controlling for Parenting Effectiveness. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41 (2), 189-201. [4] Getting it Right for Children When Parents Part: https://click.clickrelationships.org/content/parenting-apart/course-getting-it-right-for-children/
Article | parenting apart, parenting styles, co-parenting
4 min read
“My ex and contact with our daughter”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   A bit of the back story... My ex and i were together for 3 years when i got pregnant with our daughter, she was planned i was 36 and she is my first child my ex has 10 year old twins from a previous relationship who he sees every weekend, admittedly it was me that wanted our daughter when my ex and i discussed trying for a baby he admitted he wasnt as excited as me about the idea but said he would have one more child with me. Once i had my daughter i was immediately quite shocked at how little he actually helped me with her, she was quite a difficult baby she had colic reflux and milk allergy so didn't sleep a lot at first, my ex had a 2 week paternity leave then had to go back to work so i didnt expect him to do alot as he was working and i was on maternity leave however wen he did have our daughter on a night for an hour or so it was astho he was doing me a favour? Even saying to me if i asked for a little more help 'but i work!' Things got progressively worse after that i did every single night feed myself even at weekends when he was off not once did he offer to do it, i admit i became resentful esp when i got no help with housework and when the twins came on a weekend i also had them to look after too with no help from him, things came to a head resulting in him telling me he didnt feel the same about me anymore and we split, i moved back to my parents with my 10 month old daughter. Since the split my ex has stayed in contact and picks up my daughter mainly when i have to work however i went back to work part time so this in effect only adds up to approx 11 hours per week that he has her, several times hes let me down and hasnt picked het up only letting me no last minute, he refuses to have her over night too, ive bitten my tongue for a long time because i dont want anything to impact on my daughter who does love her dad and he is good with her when he has her but his lack of interest n letting her down has brought things to a head and last night we had a huge arguement (not infront of my daughter) i told him how i felt and gave him a few home truths which did not go down well so he brought our daughter home early and is now refusing to have her until i 'stop hasseling him' im at a loss what to do next all i want is for him to take more of an interest in our daughter.
Ask the community | separation, contact
Featured
Short course: “Getting It Right for Children”
Do you know the best ways to stay calm and to make sure you listen as well as talk? Are you prepared to see things differently? Can you stop a discussion turning into an argument? When things get heated, most people struggle to keep their cool. Research shows that drawn-out disagreements between parents can make children feel stressed and unhappy, particularly when it’s obvious to them that something is going on.  What do I need to do? Making agreements can be hard. Sticking to them can be even harder! Practising communication and negotiation skills can help things go more smoothly, even if you and your child’s other parent have very different opinions and emotions are running high.  We've suggested a good place for you to start based on what you've told us already. In this section you can work on improving the way you communicate and negotiate. The skills you gain will help you work with your child's other parent to create and stick to your Parenting Plan. Most people find it helpful to go through the skills in order, so we'd recommend starting at the beginning, and going through the three sections in order: STOP TALK IT OUT WORK IT OUT The first step is usually to STOP arguing. This means staying calm, making sure you listen and being prepared to see things differently. The next step is to TALK IT OUT. Here, you will learn how to speak for yourself and the benefits of being clear and sticking to the rules.  The final step is to WORK IT OUT. This is where you bring it all together by looking at the best ways to negotiate when things are difficult.
Activity | course, GIRFC
10 items
Children’s loyalty issues after separation
Children face difficult loyalty conflicts when forced to choose between their parents. If being close to one parent means being disloyal to the other, children can feel stuck in the middle. Trying to choose between two parents they love can feel like an impossible situation. It’s often hard for parents to spot loyalty conflicts. Most parents just want to do what’s in the child’s best interests, but their perceptions of this can be clouded by feelings about the other parent. As a result, loyalty conflicts are often caused by unconscious behaviour and subtle messages from parents, and are usually unintended.  How to recognise loyalty conflicts If your child is frequently upset at handovers, seems unwilling to visit the other parent, or even refuses to go, they may be experiencing divided loyalties. Your child’s feelings are heavily influenced by your relationship with your ex-partner. This relationship is likely to be complicated, especially in the early days when you are still working things out. As co-parents, it’s important for you and your ex to have an ongoing relationship. You may need to address some of the following issues: Competition. Your children matter more to you than anything else in the world, and it can feel wonderful to know how much you mean to them. You may instinctively want to try and prove that you’re a better parent than your ex, but this can be confusing and worrying for your children. Remember that it’s best for the children when both of you are on top of your parenting game. Insecurity. If you are already the children’s main carer, separation can feel like a challenge to your role. You might feel like you have more of a right than the other parent to raise your children. It might even feel like your ex is suddenly putting effort into spending time with the children when they didn’t before – this can feel particularly threatening. Anger. It’s common to feel angry during and after a separation and there may be a part of you that wants to punish your ex. However reasonable this feels, it’s essential for your children’s happiness that you leave them out of your disputes. Don’t use your children as bargaining chips, and don’t expecting them to share your anger. Control. You will have to relinquish some control when your children spend time with their other parent. This might make you anxious, but it’s best for the children if you avoid criticising the other parent’s way of doing things. Children are generally good at adapting to different house rules and parenting styles but it can be difficult for them if their parents try to undermine each other. If you there are no immediately obvious reasons why your child is experiencing difficulties, it’s possible there’s a loyalty conflict. Give your children permission to be as close to the other parent as they are to you. Watch out for the hidden messages that children pick up on, and make sure you and your ex are doing as much as possible to make sure your children are comfortable and happy in both homes. Separated partners tend to reassess each other in the light of their relationship breakdown. If your ex has hurt you and disappointed you, you may feel that they’re untrustworthy, selfish, uncaring, irresponsible, and whatever else comes to mind. But it is important to remember that this assessment is about your ex as a partner, and not as a parent. Hard as it may be, try to focus on their good points as a parent. Remember that this is how your children see them, and try to separate your feelings from your children’s. Talking this through with a friend or a counsellor could help you to find new ways of adapting to being a single parent. If you and your ex are struggling to agree the arrangements for your children, a family mediator can support you in deciding what’s best for them.
Article | children, parenting apart
5 min read
“Prevented from seeing my son”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I am a single dad who has an almost 6-month-old son. His mother and I are not in a relationship. My son was the unexpected result of a short casual affair. DNA proved that he is my son and I have been paying maintenance. I have also formed a relationship with him and love him very much. I have been seeing him several times a week without his mother and have also had him stay overnight once. His mother is a good mother to him but she has now decided to stop me seeing him and has said I have to apply legally to see him. There is no good reason for this. I am a good father, I do not drink, smoke or am abusive or violent. She has also said I will be able to see him only in a Supervised Contact Centre until he is 6 years old. Is this correct? I am sure she has stopped me seeing my son because she wanted to get back with me into a relationship which for various reasons I do not want. I do not have Parental Rights yet as the mother has refuse to sign the form giving me these rights. I now have to apply to the courts. I feel that for my son to have a Birth Certificate which says Father Unknown is unfair to him . I have booked a Mediation Appointment. Can anyone advise me on what visitation rights I may be able to have. My boy is missing out on a loving extended family situation.
Ask the community | contact
“My man has four kids and I do everything”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   For the past 12 months I have looked after my partner 100% as well as his kids. I do it all! He has paid for a few holidays for me, bought me some clothes and then tells me "well my ex gf paid for her own trips" I said yes, but she also hated your kids... He has told me plenty of times a nanny would be cheaper. He says I am still not enough in this relationship as he expects me to dedicate 100% of my time and I'm not allow to start my own business as it means I am working outside this family... He says that his income comes in and he is either working to pay for this family OR spending time with me and the kids... He thinks that the 5 schools days they are not home I am not allowed to spend on my business. He also says the fact I am broke is my own problem... I have now (i dont know why I didn't check this earlier) found out that nannies doing my work in this area WITHOUT cooking and cleaning for the man get $400+ board+food .... It works out that he has given me $200 per week and put me down for being broke and that he pays for me for everything. So I told him today I want the money per week as a nanny and he said I am being ridiculous, that I am his girlfriend and should ask for money. So I just sent him the following and I am waiting for his reply. Am I wrong? 1. “all of me, all of you” - Provide me €300 per week I will continue as I have been and provide €20,000 in a bank account in case we break up. My hours extra outside current home duties will be discussed and what my time spent on can be agreed on so you feel “connected”. If we become engaged and another contract is agree then that €20,000 goes back to joint account. If I start making an income in the outside work we agree on then the €300 stops. And we can discuss the amount of my income I put back into the family. If we have a child this amount becomes a new discussion. 2. Provide me with €400pw and I continue doing exactly as I have. I currently dedicate 4 days to this family and my extra days can be doing what I want without judgment from you. 3. We sort out my financial independence of €9000 based on the time I have already dedicated into this family, I will move out and my future financial situation is my own issue. Then we can the start dating and we can meet for dinners when you don't have the kids, and I will physically pay my half of holidays with my own money. I can come and hang out with the kids and sometimes spend the night, and as your girlfriend I can help you out with the kids for pickups and if you travel. I will be there for the kids in the same loving way except we don't need to be worried about who thinks they do more. At that stage any help we provide each other will be fair and done out of love. 4. I can leave now, we can clear this up with €9000 for my time into this family that I dedicated. If you choose this I will walk away and make no dramas and we just end things nicely.
Ask the community | stepfamily, arguments, finance
Separating from a pregnant partner
If you and the mother of your child have separated, you might be worried about what time you’ll get to spend with your child. If the relationship between you and your ex is volatile, you might not be able to hold a conversation long enough to discuss joint childcare arrangements. Why do I feel scared about this? There a few reasons you might feel this way: If you’ve recently separated, emotions will be running high and everything can be quite intense. It’s common to be overwhelmed, and this could be affecting your worldview. You may have heard stories of other dads not getting the chance to play a part in their children’s lives after a separation. 13% of non-resident fathers say they have no contact and never see their child [1], and this is a frightening statistic for expectant dads contemplating a separation. You might worry that you don’t have as many legal rights as your partner, or that they will move on with someone new who could take on a parenting role with your child. How can I help the situation? If your partner is angry and doesn’t want anything to do with you, first let the dust settle. Give her with space, and respect the decisions she makes for your child. The law will always favour your child’s needs, so the best thing you can do is demonstrate that you will be a positive influence in your child’s life. When the time is right, you could talk with her about doing a parenting plan. We offer a free online parenting plan where you can make decisions and make plans without having to speak directly to your ex. You will get a notification when they have made a suggestion, and you can agree, disagree, or find a compromise – all the while focusing on the best arrangements for the baby. Research suggests that even though regular face-to-face meetings are most ideal, frequent contact by phone or email can make up for distance from your child [2]. Although this kind of contact may not be ideal, it should enable you to maintain your parent-child bond. This is particularly good news if you live in a different location to your partner and your child. If your partner ends up blocking you from seeing your child, then you may need to go down the legal route. While the courts recognise the importance of the mother in the very early years, there is no gender bias. Researchers from the University of Warwick found that fathers applying for child contact had been “overwhelmingly successful” and that dads fared just as well as mums when making contact applications [3].   References [1] Eloise Poole. (2013). What do we know about non-resident fathers? Retrieved from Modern Fatherhood: www.modernfatherhood.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Briefing-paper-Non-resident-fathers.pdf [2] McGene, J. and King, V. (2012) Implications of New Marriages and Children for Coparenting in Nonresident Father Families. Journal of Family Issues, 33(12), 1619–41. [3] Warwick University (2015). Study finds English and Welsh family courts not discriminating against fathers. Retrieved from: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/study_finds_english/
Article | breakups, contact
4 min read
Pregnant and splitting up
If you’re pregnant and going through a separation, you might be worrying about how the breakup will affect your child. Stress One of the things you might be thinking about is how the stress of separation or divorce might affect your baby’s development in the womb. Research has found that relationship strain during pregnancy appears to be linked to negative cognitive and behavioural development in children [1]. If separation is the right thing for you as parents, it’s possible to minimise the stress and remain supportive to each other. This might be very difficult, especially if there are unresolved issues between you but, by being reasonable, rational and respectful, it is possible. Take your time to talk through a plan of action. If you decide to stay together, talk to your partner about how you can help reduce stress during the pregnancy. Maybe take up some light exercise together, or practice some yoga designed for pregnancy. If you do have arguments, take the calm and collected approach. If things get heated, take a break and return to the issue when you feel calmer. A two-parent family You may want your child to be brought up by two parents, especially if you were raised by both parents and want your child to have a similar upbringing. Some studies have found that children in two-parent homes are less likely to grow up in poverty [2], and are also less likely to develop emotional problems [3]. But, single-parent families are becoming more common and there is lots of support available for single parents. The number of lone-parent households in the UK grew steadily from 1.8 million in 2003 to nearly 1.9 million in 2013 [5]. While some research suggests that children in single-parent families have poorer outcomes, other research shows that, when it comes to their overall happiness, family composition doesn’t really matter [6]. It’s the quality of the relationship you have with your child that counts. If you stay with your partner, talk about how you want to raise your child. You both may have different ideas of what family life will be like. Take the time, hear each other out and make compromises where you can. Adjustment You may have been brought up in a single-parent household and found it hard to adjust to life. You may have witnessed conflict between your separated parents and, at times, may have felt caught between the two. A poll of 500 young people found that one in three felt that one of their parents had tried to turn them against the other during the breakup [4]. If your own upbringing in a single-parent household was difficult, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want your child to go through a similar experience.  It’s important to nurture a good co-parenting relationship with your ex-partner. A good place to start is to seek mediation or create a parenting plan so you can agree on how you will raise your child.   References [1] Bergman K., Sarkar P., O'Connor T.G., Modi N., Glover V. (2007). Maternal stress during pregnancy predicts cognitive ability and fearfulness in infancy. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2007 Nov; 46(11):1454-63. DOI: 10.1097/chi.0b013e31814a62f6 [2] Gingerbread (2018). Single parent statistics. Retrived on 16 April 2018 from: http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/content/365/Statistics [3] Parry-Langdon, N. (2008). Three years on: Survey of the development and emotional well-being of children and young people. Office for National Statistics [4] Office for National Statistics (2013). Families and Households: 2013. Retrieved from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/family-demography/families-and-households/2013/stb-families.html [5] The Parent Connection. Children in single parent families no less happy than those in two parent households. Retrieved from: http://theparentconnection.org.uk/blog/children-in-single-parent-families-no-less-happy-than-those-in-two-parent-households [6] The Parent Connection. 1 in 3 young people say one parent tried to turn them against the other during divorce. Retrieved from: http://theparentconnection.org.uk/blog/1-in-3-young-people-say-one-parent-tried-to-turn-them-against-the-other-during-divorce
Article | breakups, pregnancy
4 min read
“Child arrangements”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi. My partner and I have been together for 7 years on and off as he has a drinking problem and bad group of friends and kept breaking up because of that. he was illegal at the time we met and I supported Him all the years till last year he got his rights to stay in the country on the basis of his 2 kids. He got his rights but still didn't want to work and was depending on me. I was paying all the bills etc. We kept arguing for a few months because of that and then all of a sudden I had to go abroad for a family emergency with my kids and he was at the time staying in my home and he did not go tact us whilst we were away, I tried so many time to get hold of him and only sometimes did so we got into an argument and I told him to leave as I was tired of taking all the responsibilities as I only worked part time and we have kids to support too. When I got back from abroad he had dissapeared from the home. he had taken all his belongings with. I tried to contact him but phone went to voicemail. I asked his friends and all said they didn't know where he was so I contacted the police after 48hrs and reported him missing and a week later I heard he went abroad to visit family. He contacted me a few times after that from there and then all of a sudden he stopped. He came back to the UK without informing me and I heard from.a friend of mine that he is back and wen I bumped into him he made like he did not know me so I left it as that as I didn't know eat to say or do. I later tried to call him, I sent him text msges but till today it's been 4 months now he not responded. my kids miss him so much. I am going through depression at the moment I cannot even go to work due to stress. As a single parent it is very difficult for me. I have 2 kids with him and a son from my previous husband. I don't know what to do as he does not provide anything not does he contact the kids. I am finding it so difficult to cope on my own as my youngest is not even 2yrs old. I cannot afford mediation or court fees. I really need him to help with the kids. I would like him to take or see the kids as it's affecting them. I have noticed a change in them since they got back and the dad was gone. I have spoken to child maintenance service and they will try help but I need help into child arrangements. I have tried to text him but has not got back to me regarding this. Could someone help me in this situation?
Ask the community | contact
“Visitation and day-to-day care”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi I'm in need of some support tips on how to deal with this situation. I am currently in processes of court order I've made to an ex-partner who is the father of my child. There was a lot of things he's done, I had to step up and finally tell someone what was going on in ma 5-yr relationship with the father of my child, which I wanted it to end a bit earlier in the years. I've been and sorted with lawyers, child for lawyers, appointments i attended. After a few of those I've done. Few months maybe more later. Its 2018 now I never heard bk from the lawyers at all or from the courts for a follow up about the cases. I had and heard no contact from no lawyers nothing. A letter came in and I opened it, and it says it was dated on the 2nd of march, I had to attend a conference court case on the 2nd of march 2018. I didn't receive the letter till the 29th of march that's when a letter arrived in my mail box. Why did it take that long to arrive in ma post. I contacted the family law centre to follow up why was the letter sent late. I received the letter in ma mail on the 29th of march, and on the letter it stated and dated on the 2nd march. Apparently I missed the court case. I turned up to the actual first one he didn't, then when I ended hearing about another one I didn't get notified about it for a few weeks he turned up to that, and I didn't. As now I don't know what he capable of he's sly, and I just need some tips how to cope with not been schemed and get stuff put on to me that isn't true. I raised and cared for ma son his whole life I've been there,while his father wasn't around, he's housed, fed, clothed, enrolled him into school he's doing great at school. I really want the father to get visitation at a centre where he's supervised. Not alone as that's why I took him to court - violence, etc... Just abuse.
User article | contact, physical abuse
Planning parenting time after separation
Every family is different. If you’ve separated from your partner, your plans for parenting time will depend on several factors: The ages of the children. Young children suit a ‘little but often’ routine, whereas older children can deal with longer blocks of time. Parents' work and other commitments. Shift workers may have more restrictions than parents who work from home. The accommodation of the parent who doesn't live with the children. How far apart the two homes are. Parents who live 10 minutes apart will have more opportunities for frequent visits than parents who live two hours apart. The children's wishes and any specific needs they have. The type of co-parenting relationship you have. This includes factors like how well you communicate and co-operate. In the early days, many families start without much of a plan. Visits are arranged at short notice, and activities are open and flexible. This can work well if the children are getting to see both parents regularly and there is a strong co-parenting relationship. A flexible arrangement requires good communication, and give and take on all sides. If children don't know when they're next seeing their mum or dad, they may worry, especially if there are sometimes long gaps between visits. Co-parenting requires frequent communication and co-operation, so it’s important to establish the parameters and remain consistent. Work out a plan together. Consider the practicalities and your own expectations but, most importantly, ask the children how they feel about it all. Things to bear in mind Children cope best with predictable and regular routines. If the children are of school age, it can be helpful to separate routines for term time and holiday time. You'll probably want to have special arrangements for days like birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. If you want to take the children away on holiday, you will need extra planning time.Be prepared to consult each other well in advance before you make any commitments. Have some flexibility to make changes now and again, but don't make changes without consulting your child’s other parent. Try to be considerate and accommodating when discussing changes. When it comes to parenting time, quality is more important than quantity. If you’ve only got limited time with your children, make it count – they will remember the good times. Children like doing ordinary, everyday things as well as having treats. Be prepared to review the arrangements. Don't worry about making your parenting plan perfect on the first attempt. Try it, review it, and then make adjustments as needed. If you want a template to get things started, you can use our free parenting plan at Splitting Up? Put Kids First.
Article | contact
Mediation for separating parents
There was a time when people's first response to a parenting dispute was to send a solicitor’s letter and threaten the other parent with court. However,  more people are moving away from court and turning to mediation to help them sort things out for their children. Why the change? Parents have got the message that going to court takes longer and is more expensive than using mediation. On top of that there's uncertainty about what the outcome will be in a court case - what if neither parent gets what they want? The time, cost, and uncertainty of going to court can all add worry to an already stressful situation. Family court judges have always known that parents are usually the best people to make decisions about their children. But, when parents don't get on and can't communicate, agreeing on a decision can be easier said than done. Nobody likes going to court but parents can often feel like they have no choice if the other parent refuses to negotiate with them. Mediation is often the answer, as it gives separating parents a dedicated space to negotiate their way to an agreement. To encourage people to consider this option, the government has introduced changes so that parents are now expected to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before they can apply to court. What happens in a MIAM?   As a result of these changes, the MIAM has become the first stop for parents who want help in sorting out disputes about their children. The MIAM is usually a one-to-one meeting between a parent and a mediator although occasionally both parents can be seen together. Once the mediator understands what the problem is, they will provide information about the different options open to parents and guidance about which approach might be best for them. Parents then decide what they would like to do. Mediation is voluntary and, for it to work, people have to be willing to give it a try. Parents always have the final say. Occasionally, the mediator will advise against using mediation. In either case, if mediation is not going ahead, the mediator will provide the signed confirmation that someone has attended a MIAM. This form is needed to make an application to court. Reasons why people think mediation won’t work   'We've tried to talk but we just end up arguing' 'It's their way or no way!' 'I'm not treated like an equal parent' 'They refuse to talk to me so what’s the point?' 'They won't reply to my messages' If any of that sounds familiar, then mediation can definitely help. It's the mediator’s job to make sure that everyone's views and feelings are taken into account, especially the children’s. Using an impartial, trained mediator helps to keep the focus on the children and on future possibilities rather than dwelling on past complaints. Most importantly, parents stay in control of the decisions in a private, supported, and respectful environment. From a child's perspective, the thought of one parent taking the other to court can feel scary. They are likely to feel much happier with the thought that their mum and dad are sitting down to talk about them and working things out together. How to find a mediator You can find your nearest mediator through National Family Mediation. There are charges for MIAMs and mediation but if you are on a low income or benefits such as Income Support you might qualify for free mediation through Legal Aid. This article is written by Bernie Davis, specialist family mediator.
Article | mediation
3 min read
School holidays for separated parents
However well you are managing the week-to-week parenting arrangements with your ex-partner, the school holidays may present new challenges. If you have the children most of the time, you might be looking forward to having a break from the routine, and getting some fun time together with the children (and possibly  some ‘me time’ without them!). If you are the non-resident parent, you may have mixed feelings. You may be excited about  treating your children, and spending a bit longer together, but also anxious about potential conflict with your ex-partner. If you can work out the arrangements well in advance, you should have an easier time of it. As parents, you can both make plans, and the children will know what to expect and look forward to. However, it isn’t always easy. Planning the holidays can often lead to arguments about time, costs, and who needs a holiday most. It can also bring out the competitive nature of ex-partners. While you might feel that you have good reason to fight for your case, conflict can often leave children trapped in the middle. So, how do you keep things respectful and ensure that your children get to spend quality time with both of you? Here are a few suggestions for happier holidays Talk with your children before making any firm plans. Don’t use your children as messengers between you and your ex. Try to see things from your ex-partner’s point of view – you will both have different feelings about how best to manage holidays. Tell the children about changes to activities, but do not overwhelm them with details. Be respectful of your ex-partner when discussing plans with your children. Disagreements are bound to arise when dealing with your ex-partner. If you find yourself locked in battle, try to step back and remember the big picture. Try and manage everyone’s expectations as best you can, be prepared to compromise, and remember… there will be other holidays. Your children will benefit from being able to have a good time with both of you. If you can keep that goal in mind, you may be able to avoid a lot of potential disagreements. These tips can help you keep it civil Make it a priority to develop workable plan with your ex-partner. Don’t argue with your ex-partner in front of your children – even on the phone. Avoid talking to your children about your ex-partner’s behaviour. Be polite and efficient when you’re sorting out the details. Focus on the strengths and interests of all family members, including your ex-partner. Remember that holidays can form a significant part of childhood memories. Finding ways for your children to cope better, and trying to be mindful of your ex-partner, can go a long way to smoothing the path and giving your family happy memories to cherish forever.
Article | contact, school
Dealing with anger during a separation
Anger is a natural and common response to loss. Anybody going through a relationship breakdown is likely to get angry at some point. However, anger can sometimes be scary – not just for the person on the receiving end, but also for the person experiencing it. The intensity of feeling can make you feel like you’re out of control.  You may swing unpredictably from feelings of rage and revenge, to insecurity and sadness, and back again. Simply feeling angry is not necessarily a matter for concern, but how you deal with that anger is important. Feeling angry can be healthy when it gives you the energy to get on and take control; when it protects your self-esteem and helps you to stand up for yourself. It might also help you to separate emotionally from your ex. However, it’s important to remember the following Don’t bottle up your anger and turn it inwards. This can make you less available to your children, depriving them of the valuable relationship they have with you. In extreme cases, it can even lead to depression.   Don’t express your anger as aggression. Aggression, including the silent or passive kinds) can damage you and the people around you. Witnessing conflict is frightening for children and can have damaging effects. Anger directed at the children’s other parent will interfere with the development of a co-parenting relationship and will affect the quality of your children’s relationships with both parents. To make sure that your anger works through in a healthy way, talk about your feelings to trusted friends and family, or a professional counsellor. Take care of yourself – eat well and get some exercise. If you feel your anger is becoming a problem, you may need to change the way you think You may think you have a right to be angry and that whoever it’s directed at deserves it. Ask yourself what good the anger is doing. Weigh this up against the damage it could be doing to you and your children. You may think it’s OK to be angry because it doesn’t affect anyone else. However, it doesn’t do you any good to remain stuck in the past, unable to move on and, no matter how hard you try to keep things in, the people around you may still be affected by your anger. You may see anger as a way to get what you want. Try to let go of this and aim for positive communication. You will stand a much better chance of coming to an agreement with your ex when you can discuss things calmly. To get through an angry phase, you may need to acknowledge past pain. If you feel that your response to the current situation is disproportionate, it’s possible that you’re still reacting past injustices. Although you can’t do anything to change your experiences, you can work on changing your attitude towards them. It can be difficult to do this alone and counselling could help you to explore your feelings in a safe way. If you are being affected by your partner’s anger If your ex’s anger seems extreme or if they seem to be stuck in anger and unable to move on, you may need to protect yourself by limiting your contact with your ex. Your priority is to make yourself and your children safe. You may need to involve a solicitor to help and advise you. The Domestic Violence Helpline offers confidential support and information 24 hours a day.
Article | separation, anger
Family mediation
What is mediation? Mediation is a place for separated and separating parents to talk about their children, property and finances. It is a form of dispute resolution that offers parents a safe place to have an open and honest discussion. Mediation is confidential – everything you say is private and will not be used in any court proceedings. Trained family mediators are non-judgemental and impartial. They do not tell you what to do, and you remain in control of the decision making. A mediator’s role is to support you in finding solutions that work for everyone.   Does family mediation work? Mediation works best when parents want to find a way forward and sort things out. People who use mediation sessions to resolve their disagreements usually come to an agreement sooner and at less cost than those who use solicitors and go to court. Family mediation can also reduce ongoing conflict. You are required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can start court proceedings. This session can help you decide whether mediation is right for you. Using mediation does not stop you from going to court later if you still feel you need to. How much does mediation cost and how many meetings will I need? Prices vary but if you are on a low income you may qualify for legal aid. The number of meetings you will need depends on the complexity of issues that need to be resolved. Issues about contact can take one or two meetings but if you need to discuss property and financial issues as well, you may need three to five meetings. Will the mediator give me legal advice? Mediators can give you legal information but they will not give you legal advice. You can always take legal advice from another source before finalising an agreement you've reached in mediation. I don’t trust my ex to stick to an agreement if it’s not legal. Wouldn’t it be better to go straight to court? Agreements made in mediation are not legally binding. However, experience shows that agreements made voluntarily are more likely than court orders to reflect children’s and parents’ needs, and are therefore more likely to last. It also helps to improve understanding, restore communication and build trust. If necessary, agreements made in mediation can be used as the basis of a court order. In the case of property and financial issues on divorce, a memorandum of understanding produced in mediation can be used as the basis of a consent order. What if I feel pressured to agree to something I’ll regret later? Although the mediator will provide encouragement, you will not be pressured into agreeing anything and it is up to you to make the final decision. If you are discussing property and financial issues, you are advised to obtain legal advice on your proposals before finalising them. Who else will be in the meeting? Usually, only the mediator and the parents are present at meetings. Occasionally it is helpful to have a supporter or a legal advisor present at a meeting but both parents would need to agree to this. Can the children be included? Some mediation services offer children the opportunity to be included in the process. Research has found that children feel better if they have an opportunity to have their say about decisions that affect them. There’s no point – we’ll never agree It is not unusual to feel that agreement is impossible, especially if your previous attempts have failed. However, mediation is a different approach and the presence of a trained mediator can make a big difference to the kind of conversation you can have. Mediation may work where other methods have failed. What if my partner is better at negotiating than I am? How will I get my point across? Mediators are trained to make sure both parents’ views are heard and understood. They do not take sides so they will not be influenced if one person is a better negotiator than the other. I don’t think my ex will come Mediation is voluntary, so people can’t be forced to come. However, the mediator will write to your ex explaining the purpose of the meeting and offering to meet them alone to discuss their options. This can be a helpful for parents who feel reluctant about using the service. For further information and advice about family mediation, visit National Family Mediation (NFM) or the mediation helpline.
Article | mediation
“Court order issues”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi, I've never done this before and it it's my first time ever posting but i needed some advice. Me and my sons dad split when he was 3 months old and hes now 11 years old. We went to court over my son when he was 11months old and court orders were put in place. These were changed in 2010 and they are now for me to have my son unsupervised overnight one week and thursday til sunday the other week. Recently me and my new partner who i have been with for 2 and a half years had an arguement where he hit me, it wasnt expected and hes never done anything like this before but due to underlying issues at the time it did happen. It was reported to the police and we have since resolved this issue ourselves. Since the incident happened someone made a call to social services stating i threatened to self harm and overdose while i have my son. I do have mental health problems but my psychiatrist has been asking about finishing my outpatient care as he feels that now i have been off my medication and stable for 3years i no longer need the help i once did. Obviously the call to social services was a lie, they rang my sons dad to tell him of the complaint. He told me about the call and what was said. He has said about my partner being around our son. Now my partner would never harm my son or do anything that would cause him harm as he loves him like his own children. My sons dad has told me that should my partner come back he will stop my son coming down to my home. I know he will be in breach of the court orders as they state he is to be made available to me on the days stated. What can i do regarding this as i do not want to lose contact with my son over someones lies to social services.
Ask the community | communication, arguments, physical abuse
Moving with children after separation
It is common for parents to relocate after a divorce or separation. There are many reasons you might want to move: a new job or a new partner; getting away after a difficult breakup; moving nearer to family and friends; or just seeking a new start. Whatever the reason, it’s important to think carefully about the impact on your children. And, if the other parent objects, you may need to get a child arrangement order from the court. Child arrangement orders have replaced residence orders’ and ‘contact orders’. If you already have one of these, you don’t need to reapply. Requests for these orders can be refused where there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. In a case known as Re F (2010), the court denied a mother’s request to move from north-east England to Orkney. The court ruled that the move would affect the children’s welfare as one had dyspraxia and mild autism another had expressed strong feelings against the move. Requests for orders to move abroad with children are usually treated with greater scrutiny but those considered ‘reasonable’ are not usually refused. When considering a request for an overseas residence order, courts will examine the reasons for the request. The court will consider the child’s quality of life including arrangements for schools and housing, the relationship between the child and the other parent back at home and the practicalities for maintaining contact. To ensure the order is enforced in the destination country, the court may require the relocating parent to obtain an order in that country to comply with local jurisdiction, or to pay a financial security, or bond. The relocating parent could face prosecution if they breach the terms of an overseas order, so it’s important to check the details carefully. It can be extremely upsetting for a separated or divorced parent to be told that their ex wants to relocate with the children. However, the courts will consider each case on its own merits and the children’s welfare will determine whether the order is granted. To avoid the costs and aggravation of a court case, parents should work to settle their differences and come to an agreement. It may be helpful to work with a mediator or to seek legal advice to ensure any proposed agreement is enforceable, especially where an overseas jurisdiction is involved. For more information on making child arrangements, visit gov.uk. For help with making a parenting plan, visit our free parenting plan service.
Article | big changes, moving
4 min read
Arguing with your ex
When parents separate, the biggest damage to children is done by exposure to rows and disagreements. Developing a way of working out disagreements can protect your children and keep your stress levels to a minimum. Disagreements are a part of life Parents often have different views about what's best for their children, even when they are together. When you’ve separated, these disagreements can easily get blown out of proportion. Ask yourself how important the disagreement is. Often, the best way to deal with a difference is to look for a compromise or even just to let it go. Unresolved disagreements   When dealing with the more important issues, arrange a time and place where you can talk properly and where the children won't overhear. Emphasise your desire to work it out and do what’s best for the children and work to understand each other. Don’t try to win the argument, and don’t make assumptions about the other parent's needs and motives. Ask questions and check the facts. Language and behaviour   Be respectful. Avoid insults and blame, and don’t get drawn into the past. Focus on the future and what you can do to improve things. Keep reminding yourself that this is about the children, and that the best thing you can do is work together to sort things out. If you’re struggling to communicate with your ex-partner, you may find mediation helpful. Mediators are skilled at helping parents resolve disagreements. They may help you see things differently, so that you can reach an agreement.
Article | communication, arguments
2 min read
“Ex-husband not sticking to court order”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Basically we have a court order in place which my ex requested out of the blue as he disappeared from our lives for nearly 2 years to live in Spain with zero contact then he took me to court saying I had made it difficult for him to see the girls. Anyway 2 years down the road and he is constantly changing the court order. Has never stuck to any of it and always letting the girls down with various reasons. The latest being that he cannot afford to feed the children despite being on 50k a year! (This is because the CMS are now deducting the maintenance from his wages and being the control freak that he is he is less than happy about this. This is his latest excuse. I got 1/2 hour free this morning with a solicitor and she advised me to not yet go back to court and I pointed out that he would not go for mediation so she suggested to write a non confrontational letter saying that I understand he is having difficulties sticking to the order and therefore as of next week contact will be as follows and propose 5 hours one Saturday afternoon. She also said to politely mention the court order and say that it will need reviewing if the above suggestion doesn't work for him. How can I politely word this in a non confrontational way as otherwise he will kick off verbally which panics me. Thanks in advance.
Ask the community | breach, legal rights
Sorting out benefits after separation
Once you’re no longer living together, you’re classed as separated for tax and benefit purposes. Separating from your partner may mean that you become entitled to new benefits and tax credits or higher amounts of benefits than you already receive. If you or your ex-partner were claiming benefits for the family before you separated, it’s important to tell Jobcentre Plus and HM Revenue & Customs straight away. Keeping them up to date about your change in circumstances can help you avoid being overpaid or losing out on money. Qualifying for extra benefits could make a big difference to the options be available to you, particularly when it comes to the cost of housing. If the parent with the main care of the children can work at least 16 hours a week, they may qualify for Working Tax Credit. This benefit can make a substantial difference to a single parent’s income, so it may be worthwhile – financially anyway – if you can manage this. If you have permanently separated from your partner, you can claim benefits and tax credits as a single person immediately. If your separation is temporary or on a trial basis, you may not be able to claim these benefits while there is still a chance you may get back together. For advice and practical support with benefits and tax credits, contact your local free advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, or called the Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline free on 0808 802 0925. You can find further detailed information on page four of the factsheet 'Action to take when a relationship ends',  produced by the charity Gingerbread who provide expert advice and practical support for single parents.
Article | legal rights, co-parenting
2 min read
Fathers’ legal rights and responsibilities
Parental responsibility (PR) is the legal name for a parent’s duties to their child. Having parental responsibility means you have the right to contribute to decisions made around your child's future and how they are raised, including giving consent to medical treatment, choosing their school, and their religion. Having parental responsibility does not mean that separated parents can over-ride each other’s wishes or interfere with day-to-day decisions relating to the children when they are with the other parent. Having parental responsibility doesn’t mean that you will always get what you want from a court if you disagree with the other parent. You may also be liable to pay child maintenance even if you don’t have parental responsibility. Who has parental responsibility? Parental responsibility is automatically granted to mothers and to fathers who are married to the mother. You will also have parental responsibility if you have adopted the child or if the child was born after 1 December 2003 and you are registered on the birth certificate (in England and Wales). You do not lose  as a result of divorce or separation. How to get parental responsibility If the mother agrees, you can both sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement form. You can access the application from the Parental rights and responsibilities section of gov.uk or ask at your local county court. If the mother doesn’t agree, you can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order from the court. In considering an application from a father, the court will take the following into account: the degree of commitment shown by the father to his child the degree of attachment between father and child the father's reasons for applying for the order The court will then decide to accept or reject the application based on what it thinks is in the child’s best interests.
Article | fathers, legal rights, separation
2 min read
Free online parenting plan
Splitting Up? Put Kids First was made by OnePlusOne, who are also behind Click. It was designed to support separating parents in helping them put their children’s needs first at a time of great emotional upheaval. The way separated couples manage co-parenting can have an enormous impact on a child throughout their life – from education in the short term, to future relationships and mental health in the long term. The aim is to reduce the number of children negatively affected by painful parent separations while encouraging a culture shift in the way people deal with co-parenting, to make the continued involvement of both parents the norm, and ensure that those working with separating families can provide the guidance and tools needed.  Created by our parent company, relationship charity OnePlusOne, this is the first online Parenting Plan that helps couples communicate and make arrangements about who will be seeing their children in an informal yet structured environment. The service is FREE and available 24/7 and 365 days a year. Help is available now, with no need to book an appointment or go on a waiting list. OnePlusOne Director Penny Mansfield CBE, says: If couples have a very nasty breakup they may find it impossible to work out arrangements for their children.If we can encourage them to think about new childcare needs before it becomes too difficult, that will be much better for everyone.Our hope is it will remove much of the bitterness involved in a break-up because you don’t have to make an appointment or go to a place where you have to define yourself in a certain way”. Splitting Up? Put Kids First is available in Welsh and English. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Contact dean.wilson@oneplusone.org.uk if you’re willing to share your feedback with us.
Article | co-parenting, children, planning
1 min read
Grandparents during separation
Being a grandparent is a precious role, with all the joys of spending time with and caring for a child, and less of the stress. Most grandparents idolise their grandchildren, and grandchildren can thrive on that special relationship. After a parental divorce or separation, the grandparents’ role can shift dramatically and what was once taken for granted becomes fraught with complications. Grandparents – especially those who have been very closely involved – invariably get caught in the middle. You may worry about seeing less of your grandchildren or losing contact altogether. Your loyalties can be torn between wanting to support your child through the painful periods and wanting to stay on good terms with their ex-partner. After a separation, grandparents are faced with many dilemmas: Grandparents are often called on for advice and support. They need to be good listeners while staying neutral. Grandparents are expected to be there to pick up the pieces but withdraw whenever they are regarded as being too interfering. Grandparents should respect boundaries but also be available for support when needed. Grandparents often have to to provide comfort, reassurance and answers for angry and confused children, not always knowing exactly what is going on themselves. During a separation, parents are often overwhelmed with their own issues and with making sure their children are OK. In this state, it’s easy overlook the valuable role that grandparents play. It is worth taking the time to sit down and talk with grandparents about what they are might be thinking and feeling, making sure they don’t feel taken for granted. It is OK to say you need them. The support of grandparents can be a crucial factor in how children cope with their parents' separation. Try to be clear about what you would like from them, and encourage them to do the same for you. Be open and honest. Keep in mind that when a couple’s relationship breaks down it doesn't just affect the immediate family members – it touches other family members in a number of ways too. You may also like to visit How mediation can assist grandparents on the National Family Mediation website.
Article | grandparents, co-parenting, identity
2 min read
Communicating with your ex
As a separated parent, one of your biggest challenges will be to put aside your feelings about your ex to focus on your child. This is not an easy thing to do. It can take a long time to adjust to the end of a romantic relationship. When you have children together, you’ll need to renegotiate the terms of your relationship entirely. You're no longer partners, but you will still need to work together to raise the children. Although your conversations may be focused more on practicalities, it’s still important to share the positives of being parents. Look for opportunities to talk about your children's successes and try to appreciate what their other parent does for them – staying positive can help you keep the dialogue open. If your ex is making communication difficult it is easy for bad feelings and behaviour to escalate. While you may not be able to control your ex’s behaviour, you do have power over your own, and can at least try to be a positive influence.  Your ex may just be going through a tough patch. Keep sticking to your goal of focusing on the children's needs and stay patient, and you'll stand a better chance of getting through it without doing too much damage to your co-parenting relationship. Try to agree to keep the co-parenting conversations separate from all other discussions, for example, about the house or money. These are important issues so you will need to make sure they are being dealt with somewhere else. If face-to-face conversation is too hard for the moment, you might find using text or email easier. Just bear in mind that tone of voice and body language can affect how people respond to communication. The absence of these cues means that messages can be misinterpreted, so pay attention to how you phrase things, and give your ex the benefit of the doubt. If you need to raise something difficult,  let the other parent know you would like to talk and then agree a convenient time and place. Set an agenda so there are no surprises and you can both be prepared. Agreeing to meet in a public place can ensure you both behave civilly, and it also takes you out of the children’s environment. To keep your communication at its most effective, consider having regular meetings to review: The children's successes and achievements. Parenting time arrangements. Special events. Health, education and general welfare. Discipline and boundaries. Activities Why it's worth the effort If you don't find a way of communicating with your ex that works for you both, it's going to be hard on everyone – the children will miss out and you could end up dreading every conversation with your child’s other parent.  Children's needs change as they grow older; your life will change too - it’s important that you can sit down together and talk about how these changes will affect you. Keeping the dialogue open and developing some good will makes the difficult conversations that much easier.
Article | co-parenting, communication
3 min read
How to prepare for family mediation
Mediation is a process in which parents work together with a professional mediator to develop a mutually acceptable parenting plan. The parenting plan can be quite structured, specifying the day-to-day arrangements for the children, as well as plans for the school holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. You and your child’s other parent decide what to include. Parental conflict over arrangements can have a damaging effect on children. By working together in a safe and managed way with a mediator, parents can avoid these battles and come to agreement that suits the children’s needs. How to prepare for the mediation process Approach mediation with an open mind and be willing to listen. Parents who are open and listen to their ex-partner are more able to reach a settlement. Do your homework before mediation and come prepared with several options. Write down a few ideas and proposals so you can refer to them in the mediation session. What children need is often different from what parents need. Make sure you understand your children's needs, so you can stay focused on them and not on each other. Family mediation is not the place to focus on the other parent. The process is likely to break down if you and your ex-partner get into an argument about who said what. This is not a place to rehash old conflicts but rather to solve parenting problems after divorce or separation.  Be open to different ideas, and willing to compromise so you can reach a peaceful solution on behalf of your children. Things that might help you while you are mediating Focusing on your children's needs rather than your own. Acknowledging that children have different needs depending their age, temperament, and development. Acknowledging the other parent's strengths. Accepting that children need time with both parents. What to take with you to the mediation meeting A proposal for residence and a time-sharing plan. A calendar of school holidays, work schedules, and a schedule for your child's activities. A flexible attitude. A positive attitude that you will be able to sort things out between yourselves. If you want some help creating a parenting plan, try our free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First. You can do it all online, including reviewing each other's suggestions so you don't even need to meet up with your ex-partner when you want to make changes. If you'd like further insight into how mediation might work for you, this video from Creating Paths to Family Justice offers helpful information on how different types of mediation can work:
Article | co-parenting, mediation, planning
3 min read
As children grow, their needs change
As children grow up and develop through different stages, they gradually become more involved in the world outside their immediate families. If you and your child's other parent are separated, you may need to review your parenting arrangements as your child's needs change. Starting nursery and school are both significant steps, usually marking the start of children developing their own social lives. By the time children reach their mid to late teens, it might seem like their friends have become more important than their family. For separated parents, life transitions like these can also trigger a need to review the childcare arrangements. If possible, it's better for children if both parents are involved in the planning and decision making around these stages and changes. Older children may want to take on part-time jobs or have weekend sleepovers at their friends’ homes. When children start school, parents need to consider that parenting time will be built around the beginning and end of the school day and term times. All parents will will also have to take responsibility for making sure homework gets done and school uniform is washed and ready for Monday morning. If your children spend part of the school week at both homes, you will find that good communication and planning are essential to keeping life easy. If you have a good co-parenting relationship, adapting the arrangements to suit your children's changing needs doesn’t have to be a big issue. If, however, you find agreeing changes with the other parent difficult and avoid discussing the need to review things, you may find things suddenly aren't working anymore. Most parenting plans have a shelf life of about two years before they need to be reviewed. Sticking rigidly to an outdated plan can be very constricting to children. Be prepared to accept that reviewing the arrangements is a normal part of sharing the joys and challenges of watching your children grow up. New parents and siblings It's common for children to become part of a new stepfamily after their parent's relationship ends. The prospect of a baby brother or sister can be exciting to children of all ages, but can also feel like a threat. If you're the other parent, you may have mixed feelings about your ex's new family but your priority should be to  support your children. If you find it difficult to support your ex, try to see it as an opportunity to show goodwill by accommodating changes to arrangements around the birth of the baby and being flexible around parenting time. For help setting up and reviewing a parenting plan. For more information and support on co-parenting, see our section on parenting apart.
Article | children, co-parenting, family
3 min read