Trying to come to terms with the breakdown of your relationship is always difficult, but this becomes even more complex where there are children involved. When you have to take into account your emotions and feelings about your ex-partner, especially if the breakdown was acrimonious, it can be very hard to be reasonable about access to the children.
This can be particularly difficult if your ex-partner is in a new relationship as this may cloud the waters around the issue of access to the children even more. So how can you work through the issue of access to your children with as little upset as possible for you, your ex-partner and your children?
You will almost certainly understand the importance of both you and your ex-partner taking a role in raising your children, so making the arrangements clear for you both and for the sake of your children is vital. This will ensure that they know what to expect and where they stand.
It is important that these discussions take place away from your children and that you are both prepared for the difficult discussions that have to take place. Making a list beforehand could be a good way to pre-empt any awkwardness.
In addition, focusing on your children’s needs rather than your own will help to hone in on the important issues. You should consider the ages of your children, whether they are old enough to have a say in the arrangements and how to ensure that they continue to have access to their wider family, school friends and after school clubs and activities.
It will help to look at the practical side of the arrangements such as work commitments, travel times to school and sleeping arrangements in the house as this may help to clarify what may or may not work at certain times during the week.
Once you have agreed a way to move forward, you should make a record of what you have discussed so that both you and your ex-partner are clear about the future. This is not legally binding though and if your arrangements are not working out, either of you could decide to seek a formal child arrangement order which is decided in court.
If you and your partner cannot come to an arrangement, you should seek legal advice about what the next steps should be to finalise your contact arrangements as soon as possible.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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