When a relationship ends, the “what happens next” looks very different when there are children involved. It is not the case that once you have resolved outstanding financial matters and divorced (if necessary) that your contact with your former partner/spouse ends there. There will be a need for an element of ongoing contact to ensure your children’s relationship is not impacted (there are of course a limited number of circumstances where any ongoing contact is not appropriate and this should be discussed with a Solicitor).
It is likely that your relationship with your former partner/spouse will change over time – it is common for parties to find communicating just after a separation very difficult, this then improves over time. Sometimes it can then become difficult once more when either parties’ life moves forward and they form a relationship with someone else for example. It is imperative for your children that you find a way to continue communicating throughout.
It is vital that you separate the problems between you and your former partner/spouse in your adult relationship to those surrounding the arrangements for your children. The arrangements should be made in the best interests of the children and should allow for a relationship with both parents. There is a presumption that both parents should spend time with their children unless there is a very good reason for this not to happen.
If you are finding it very difficult to communicate with your former partner/spouse when discussing your children, there are various options that you could consider in order to move forward:
Having been through the Court/Arbitration process, communication remains crucial and it will improve your situation going forward if you can find an effective way to communicate with one another. There is various technology in place to assist with this now such as mobile apps for example Our Family Wizard.
In addition to all of the above options, you may also wish to consider self-referring to the CAFCASS Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) which aims to help you reflect on your relationship as separated parents and to give you the tools to assist you with co-parenting your children effectively. You do not attend the same programme as your former partner/spouse.
If you would like any more information, or to discuss any of the above options further, please do contact Stephanie Newton in our Family Team.