The breakdown of a relationship can be a traumatic time for both parties, but it can feel even worse if children are involved.
Although you may be working through your own feelings of heartbreak and disappointment during a relationship breakdown, it’s important to remember that your child will need emotional support too. Separations and divorces can be incredibly confusing for children who may not understand what is happening, and may blame themselves.
As family law specialists, we’ve spent years working with clients to help resolve any issues relating to children, finances or property so that any relationship breakdown is handled as amicably as possible.
Our expertise has given us an understanding of how you can fully support your child throughout the process:
Listen to what your child is saying
Just two years ago, research showed that almost a fifth (19%) of children felt that they had no voice and were not listened to during the separation.
This is one of the reasons why we, as a law firm, support the Voices in the Middle campaign. This national initiative is raising awareness of the impact of divorce on young people. It’s helping to highlight the fact that children should be able to share their views, and that they should be listened to (in accordance with their age and maturity).
The NSPCC has published a fantastic resource on their website, which is aimed towards helping parents explain separations and divorce to children. It is informative and we would advise anyone who is going through a separation to read to what they have to say.
Avoid sharing negative comments
Children can easily pick up on negative emotions, so you should remind them that they are loved by both parents and that you are always available if they want to talk about their feelings.
Where possible, you should avoid sharing any negative feelings about your ex-partner with your child and you shouldn’t place blame on any individuals.
“Statistically, one in three children will see their parents split up before they turn 16.”
What happens if the Courts get involved?
As members of Resolution, we believe that taking a constructive and non-confrontational approach towards any separation is the best way to reach agreements between all parties.
However, in some scenarios, heading to the courtroom is the only realistic outcome. In these situations, we do our best to prepare our clients so that they fully understand the court process.
Family Judges/magistrates will listen to all the facts and make final judgments about what is right for your children.
If there is an issue concerning your children, the court will ask Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to help. Cafcass will appoint a Family Court Advisor, who will consider the wishes and needs of the child and ensure that their voices are heard.
The Cafcass worker will see the child/children and will discuss their views or will in the case of younger children , gather their views through drawings and other child sensitive communications. They will then report the children’s views to the Court .
It is very unusual for a child to have to attend Court. If they do, heading to court can be a scary prospect for a child, who may have the belief that court is “where criminals go”. As with the whole divorce/separation process, the best thing you can do for your child to help them cope with the situation is to continue to engage in positive and re-assuring communication.
If a Family Court Advisor is appointed, you should read through the guidance on the Cafcass website which clearly explains what role they have to play and how they are there to help. As well as providing in-depth resources for parents, they also have online resources designed with children and young people in mind.
If you are concerned about your child and think they would benefit from some counselling, you may wish to contact CIDAS who provide counselling for children/young people (up to 18 years of age) whose parents have separated or divorced, or those in the process of separating (07810 358 930).