Yesterday I wrote about Cafcass, the agency which looks after the welfare of children when a case goes to court. In the UK today it is more than likely that you – and your children – will have friends or relatives who have who have divorced or separated.
Fortunately the majority of separations do not end up in the courtroom, but it is not always the divorce itself that can create problems for their children, but rather the way in which the divorce is dealt with and the level of conflict to which the children are then exposed.
It is widely accepted by family psychologists that one of the most destructive patterns of behaviour that children experience at this stressful time is observing one parent criticise the other. The children have worked out that as they are genetically made up of both parents, if one of them is “bad”, “selfish” or “stupid” then they must be as well.
Unfortunately when tensions are running high in litigation and Mum and Dad are receiving letters from their respective solicitors on a weekly (or more frequent basis) it is sometimes difficult for them to keep calm and shield their children from what is going on.
Hurt and anger
Most parents will try their best not to involve their children and are successful, but there are others that I have come across that are incapable of doing so as they are so blinded by the hurt and anger that they feel.
In doing a lot of mediation and collaborative work I have found that the outlook for the children in these cases appears – on the whole – to be much brighter.
Most of my clients who choose the collaborative law process spend a lot of time (and rightfully so) in the meetings discussing their relationship with the children and how they would like to see the arrangements work for the future after they are separated from their partner. In a traditional divorce with Court proceedings this can sometimes be overlooked whilst the couple are thinking about the points that they can score against the other in terms of their parenting skills, or on financial matters.
Collaborative law and mediation
The collaborative law and mediation process allows each parent to discuss, in a safe environment, their fears, concerns and hopes for the future and how they would like to see the children’s relationship with each parent evolve. This is so much more important and productive than arguing about who gets what and trying to carve out exactly which hours and minutes of the child’s day gets spent with which parent.
There are many family consultants and other specialists available to assist and support both parents and the children through the process.
These professionals and support groups provide valuable advice and insight into the affect that the change is having on the children and how best to cope with it.
In my view these professionals are still under-utilised and consideration should be given in almost every case, to whether the children would benefit from the involvement of this support alongside the legal process.
If you would like to hear anything further about collaborative law and mediation please contact me at Bishop and Sewell on email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 020 7091 2869
The above is accurate as at 5 August 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.