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New Year resolutions for separated parents

Jan 7, 2019, 09:25 AM
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Date : Jan 7, 2019, 09:19 AM
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It’s that time again: Christmas is firmly behind us, it’s a New Year with a fresh start and how many of us have already broken new diet regimes with leftover chocolate or fallen off the proverbial wagon of any number of resolutions we made when Big Ben chimed us into 2019 just a week ago? Or is the resolution to give up making grand resolution each year and start with smaller manageable and sustainable changes? Kimberley Bailey, divorce and family law solicitor at Woolley & Co in Bristol, looks at the details. 

For family lawyers, our resolution is a lifelong promise – a commitment to our conduct with clients and others to treat them with respect, act with honesty, integrity and objectivity by seeking to minimise conflict and confrontation and above all seeking to put the children first.

So, for parents who realise this New Year means a very big change – a separation: what can their resolutions be? Whatever the reasons for the parents no longer getting on well enough to remain together, what should be the priority is endeavouring to understand and manage potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of their decisions and the impacts on the children.

Resolutions to put your children first when you separate

It can be a sad and worrying time for even the most amicable of separating couples so perhaps these can be a starting point to some resolutions to be made together to get through it. I’m confident there are many other resolutions, and we’d love to hear them in the comments section below:

Don’t speak in defamatory terms about one another in front of the children or involve them in discussions about your separation or arguments – do you really want your child to wonder why you now think so little of the other parent? What are you seeking to achieve? You and your partner are the children’s superheroes and primary role models – behave as such!

Do seriously consider how you will continue to communicate – whether directly, through mediation or solicitors, it is essential you do so for the sake of your children. You are then far more likely to both agree the way forward and remain feeling involved in the steps being taken surrounding your separation

Don’t get angry around the children or take it out on them – remember they love you both and want to appease you both, and most likely want you both to get back together, even if they know deep down this won’t happen. It is likely they will think to some extent your separation is their fault, so reassure them that you both love them even if you’re not getting on together right now (and may not foresee ever doing so – the children don’t need to know that is how you feel).

Enjoy time with the children, make every day count – usually on separation the children remain with one parent and see the other one or two evenings in the week and on alternate weekends. This is a huge change for you as well as for their routine, whether you no longer see your children every day or now do all the household chores and daily routine, which you may not have done before. Make sure the children know you love them, that things will be ok – tell them, hug them, praise them and keep them feeling secure however often you’re now spending time with them, focusing on what they need and enjoy.

Accept you can still be the best parent if you can no longer be the best partner – so many parents have a sense of ‘failure’ because the relationship is over. But have you failed if you recognise that staying in a bad relationship isn’t good for you or your children? Remember that the relationship you have with your children isn’t over so focus on the positives with your children and embrace each new day with them, plan fun times, enjoy the everyday little things that they want to celebrate, which after all to them are the big things.

Kimberley Bailey -  Family law solicitor, Bristol


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