Summer holidays – a hotbed for child contact disagreements

19 Jun 2012

The summer holidays can be a real source for disagreements and arguments.  When couples separate, it can be very difficult to reach an agreement on how that time with the children is shared fairly during the summer holidays. 

Unfortunately, one or other party can lose sight of the fact that they should be putting the children and their needs first, and many other factors can come into play: guilt, jealously, emotional hurt, to name but a few, can be the drivers.

A good place to start if there are difficulties in agreeing contact is the Resolution Parenting after Parting workshops.  You can find further information by calling in to our reception to collect a Parenting after Parting leaflet or online athttp://www.resolution.org.uk/parentingafterparting/

Although your relationship may have ended, your role and responsibilities as a parent has not.  In the early stages of separation, it can be helpful to approach discussions on matters concerning the children with a business like attitude. Although difficult, try to separate your emotional feelings from these matters. However you feel about your ex-partner, you need to talk to them respectfully as the parent of your children.

It is especially important that the children are not witnesses of any conflict between their parents and therefore you should avoid discussing contentious matters when they are present or could overhear the conversation. Examples of times to avoid include at handover times or during telephone conversations.

If you cannot reach an agreement amicably with your ex-partner, then Court should not be your next step.  The Court process is stressful, lengthy, expensive and has not been found to benefit the children. If you need assistance in reaching an agreement with your ex-partner, then you should consider mediationor collaborative law. 

Collaborative law is a form of mediation where the parties and their lawyers agree not to go to Court and instead have meetings together around a table.

Of course, with the best will in the world, sadly for some couples there is no other option but to issue an application to Court for a Contact or Residence Order.  If this occurs, the first hearing is most often a form of mediation but this time with the assistance of the Judge and a CAFCASS Officer (Children andFamilyCourt Advisory Support Service).

Leaflets about CAFCASS are available from Osbornes’reception and further information can be found at www.cafcass.gov.uk

In some cases the instigation of Court proceedings is the only option, but it is important to remember that once that process is commenced, other people are involved and some of the decision making and control is taken away from the parties due to the nature of the Court process.

This article gives only a very brief overview of the options available to parents in resolving matters concerning contact.  The family and divorce department at Osbornes are firmly committed to putting our client’s needs first, listening to them, and guiding them through their choices and, most importantly, encouraging parents to put their children first.

Lisa Pepper is a Partner at Osbornes, a qualified Collaborative Lawyer and a Resolution Accredited Specialist. She is also a Director of Resolution which is an organisation of over 6,000 lawyers and family justice professionals who believe in a constructive, non- confrontational approach to family law matters.

You can contact Lisa by:

The family department at Osbornes is recommended and ranked by independent legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.  Our specialist family lawyers in London advise on all aspects of family lawincluding divorce law.

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