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Clean Break? Not if you have children....

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Many years ago when someone said ‘I do’ it was for life. If a couple’s relationship took a turn for the worse, couples would work on their relationship and not just run to their nearest solicitor. This of course left many people trapped in love-less and unhappy marriages and thankfully times have now changed. More and more couples are choosing to separate, not because one person has committed adultery or been abusive or violent to the other person, but because couples have simply grown apart.

Separating is not as simple as visiting your local solicitor, issuing divorce proceedings and severing all ties. Whether you are married or not, having children with another person is for life and it is very difficult to cut all ties with that person. Whilst a child is under the age of 18, decisions will need to be made in regards to the child’s upbringing. In addition to this, arrangements will have to be discussed regarding contact during birthdays, Christmas and school holidays. A parent gaining sole legal ‘custody’ of a child is something of the past.  With support from the courts regarding fathers’ rights this means that it is not so easy to achieve a ‘clean break’ from your former partner.

As both a solicitor, I regularly remind clients that when children are involved, whether they like it or not, their paths will continue to cross with their former spouse, even when the child is over 18 years old for example birthdays, graduations, weddings etc.   Given that once upon a time the parties loved each other and could talk civilly to one another, there is no reason why this cannot still be the case if managed correctly, without having battles through solicitors and in an attempt to reach agreements in an open and friendly atmosphere. I believe that Mediation is best placed for these discussions. The meetings will be conducted in a controlled environment with the mediator present, allowing each party to talk and more importantly listen to one another. The mediator will intervene where appropriate and explore different options for both parents to communicate and work together for their children.

There are many issues discussed in mediation, particularly how the other party chooses to parent their children. In reality neither party has the right to dictate how the other should parent their child. We each have a right to parent our child or children in the way we deem appropriate, within reason, however it is difficult to manage how the other party parents when they are no longer under the same roof. One of the main roles as a mediator is to identify the issues which have resulted in the breakdown in communication and reorganise families to assist both parents, taking into account the needs of their child or children.

Over the years, the way people parent their children has changed significantly and there has been a rise in separated families.  It is important that both parents recognise how important their role is in a child’s life and work together, this does not necessarily mean as ‘man and wife’ or in a relationship together. Both parents have chosen to have a child with one another and their role as a parent is not going to disappear because the relationship has broken down.

For further information in regards to the above please email me at or alternatively contact me on 01904 624185.