Relationship Breakdown How To Minimise The Impact Upon Children

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Breakdown of a relationship often represents an emotional maelstrom – with feelings of anger, distraction, fear and dislike dominating.  These difficulties if not bad enough are sometimes exacerbated by issues of domestic violence or alcohol/drug mis-use.  Proceeding through this emotional minefield needs careful planning and thought.
A good starting point is to access neutral information as to how to try and manage things in the best interests of your children.  You may take the view that much of the available guidance is common sense but we respectfully say from our experience as family lawyers that if you read just one thing that helps you and your former partner to pause and reflect you may be able to help your children immensely.
On line sources include:- This is a free downloadable guide published by the Department for Education and Skills – a guide for separating parents on how to put your children first. This (American) site offers practical guidance to separated parents to help children manage.  We particularly recommend the pages on this website setting out suggested “Do’s and Don’ts” for parenting with your former partner.

Books include:
Dinosaurs Divorce:  Mark Brown/Laurie Brown    ISBN 0316109967 For children aged 4-8 years.
Divorce Helpbook for Kids: Cynthia Macregor     ISBN1886230390
For older children.
Helping Children Cope with Divorce: Rosemary Wells ISBN078795554X
For parents – designed to help separating parents ease children’s emotional difficulties on relationship breakdown.
The government produces a document known as a “Parenting Plan”.  The concept behind this document is to form the basis for direct discussions between parents as to arrangements for your children and to minimise and ensure that issues concerning the children’s day to day care, religion, schooling, health and so on are all agreed in advance.

Some issues to consider…………

  1. Separation from a Partner is extremely stressful.  The evidence is that as we become increasingly stressed so the quality of our judgement and decision-making declines.  You may conclude from this that reflection and pause before confronting the other parent about children may be beneficial.  It may also be wise to look after yourself (see separate briefing note) – you will be helping your children too.
  2. There will occasionally be circumstances justifying withholding or limiting contact.  These will include significant domestic violence, substance or sexual abuse.  If any of these apply take legal advice promptly.
  3. There is evidence to suggest that children who fail to maintain a meaningful relationship with each parent after separation will have an increased risk of suffering in adulthood from low self-esteem, depression, drug and alcohol use, suffering from failed relationships and in the case of girls teenage pregnancy.
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