News and Insights
28 September 2016
Children are, sadly, often overlooked by parents during the course of family law proceedings.
Children are, sadly, often overlooked by parents during the course of family law proceedings. This is usually completely unintentional, but nonetheless parents tend to lose themselves in the emotional turbulence of the situation. They focus on their own wants and needs, or even punishing their partner, without considering the impact it has on their children. This can be extremely damaging and can put more strain on already distressing circumstances.
The Court makes the welfare of any children involved in a legal process their paramount consideration, regardless of what Mum or Dad may want and feel. This is also the best approach to take outside of the Court room. Your children will inevitably pick up on your emotions and the reasons for your mood, especially if they are aware of an argument between you and your ex-partner.
Look at the bigger picture
One issue that frequently arises is a parent’s natural desire to focus on the insignificant details. This can be to prove a point, or to defend an accusation made against them. Often, a parent believes they are putting their child first, but has actually fallen into the trap of not considering the implications for their child.
Most of the time the issues raised between ex-partners surrounding children, particularly concerning contact, may seem important but are in fact trivial in the grand scheme of things. Raising these details then usually creates more arguments, which leads to a relationship becoming more hostile. This will ultimately impact on the children in some way.
Examples such as what an ex-partner does with a child during their time together, the way your ex communicates with you or in their own time, and even your child being introduced to your ex’s new partner may seem like big things, but are in fact trivial in comparison to the welfare of your child. As long as a child is being raised in a caring and supportive environment (whether that be with you, your ex or between both of you) and they are happy, raising petty arguments will only seek to damage relationships more than is necessary. It is not about punishing your ex, or competing to be the better or favourite parent. The focus should be on how you work together to raise your child in the best way possible. Remember, you loved each other once. There is no reason to say you cannot work together again, for the sake of your child.
Consider Dispute Resolution
The more that couples discuss their issues and agree matters; the better it is for everybody involved. This leads to healthier relationships all round and will definitely mean that your children are impacted far less than they would otherwise be. This is one of the main reasons that Alternative Dispute Resolution methods are suggested by lawyers. These include mediation and round table meetings, which can be effective ways to reach a compromise without going to Court. It is also worth remembering that any time spent by a lawyer on your case incurs charges. These escalate dramatically if it goes to Court. So ask yourself whether those minor details are really worth raising an argument over, given the extra costs – and angst - that will follow.
If you do find yourself questioning whether you are putting your child first, or have fallen into the trap of getting caught up in minor details, advice is available. A helpful leaflet called “Parenting Plan: Putting Your Children First” can be obtained from the Judicial Greffe in the Royal Court. Take a step back and think as rationally as possible, if only for the sake of the children.
At Viberts we always encourage our clients to use alternative dispute resolution methods to find a more amicable solution. By doing so, there is less drama and distress all round and where children are involved this can only be a good thing.
To find out more about the options available to you, please contact our family law team for a confidential initial discussion.