I have experienced an increase in the number of enquiries from concerned parents during the lockdown. I am frequently being asked at the moment for top tips for communicating with the other parent when they are going through a separation or divorce when it comes to matters concerning the children. Most of the people that I deal with have their children’s best interests at heart and try really hard to resolve matters, nevertheless no matter how hard clients try, these are difficult times and there are difficult conversations to be had.
I would like to share with you some basic tips for parents who are separated. Whilst these may appear at first glance to be trivial, if you can get these basics right then you are on the right path to successful co-parenting.
Although your relationship may have ended with your partner, your role as parents has not. It can be helpful to try to behave with an unemotional or fact-focused attitude, especially right at the outset. This is obviously an incredible challenge when emotions run high. It is also an incredible achievement when you get this right.
I think you should try and avoid conversations that encourage conflict and choose your battles. For minor things, rather walk away. Do not exhaust your precious and finite emotional energy trying to control the other parent or make him or her a better parent. Just concentrate on being the best parent that you can be to support your children.
Sometimes it is really difficult to implement this one, but I would urge you to try and deal with issues in a factual way instead of harbouring and expressing anger and hurt. The children will be best supported through this period if they see that you are able to move forward and manage your own emotions. There is help available if you need it and do not feel a failure for engaging outside professional and therapeutic help.
Your children need to know that you respect your former partner as their parent. Do not malign or criticise your former partner in front of your children even if the urge to do so becomes overwhelming. Try not to react or say things when you are angry. Try to actively listen to the other parent’s thoughts before responding and when you want to discuss something with the other parent, it is probably best to let them know beforehand what you want to discuss and arrange a mutually convenient time when you will be at your most relaxed and not stressed or pressed for time.
Do not discuss matters that may lead to any kind of disagreement at a time when your children can hear you.
There are some excellent apps that can assist with co-parenting. An example is, Our Family Wizard. You should have a look at these and see whether this is something that would assist you. Many of my clients have found that they are invaluable tools for taking tension out of what needs to be discussed and arranged on a regular basis. You may still require some outside help tackling some of the bigger issues though.
If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this article further, please contact Louise Barretto Partner and Head of the Family Law Team at Bishop and Sewell on email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 020 7091 2869 Skype, Microsoft Teams or Zoom, depending on what you would prefer.
The above is accurate as at 15 June 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.