More than one in three children never see their father again after their parents split up, research into family breakdown shows.
And nearly one in ten children are so traumatised by the separation that they have considered suicide. Children are often used as ‘emotional footballs’ and left feeling ‘used, isolated and alone’, with many turning to drink, drugs and truanting.
Concerning children, divorce can be equally straightforward or problematic. You will have Parental Responsibility for the children born in wedlock with your partner. You will have to Pay Child Support, or maintenance, which can be worked out with your ex or a monthly sum mandated by the Child Support Agency (CSA), depending on your income.
Mothers are still more likely to get custody when parents divorce, but the general standard used today is that the custody award must be in the “best interests of the child."
Working out of Court is the easiest way, if you can reach an agreement in direct negotiation with your ex or through mediation. There’s less acrimony and generally a much better atmosphere to the proceedings and you can take the agreement to court, and it becomes legally valid if signed by the solicitors employed by you and your ex.Be aware, however, that mothers have flouted these agreements in the past. If so, you’ll need to obtain a court order to have them enforced. A great deal depends on the goodwill between you and your former partner.
In Court, where children are old enough to voice opinions, their wishes are taken into account by the court regarding contact and residence. Another important part of the proceedings is the Cafcass Report, where both parents and others are interviewed to reach a determination. Courts mostly follow all the recommendations of the report.
The tradition in contact tends to be every other weekend and half the school holidays with your children spending the rest of the time with their mother. However, it’s quite possible to suggest other arrangements, especially if that’s what your children desire. Joint residency, for example, is a relatively new concept here.
Things that fathers should do are keeping up your maintenance payments, making them on time and in full. This shows responsibility to your children and eliminates at least one legal hold your ex might have over you. If unemployment or other factors make payment impossible, keep full records and present them to the court.
If possible, create a co-parenting plan with your ex. This can help head off any future problems and means you really are putting your children first. Finally, never use your kids to pass messages to your former partner. Keep them above the problems you two have.
Experts tell us that children of divorce fare much better if their parents don't use them as pawns in an ongoing battle, but instead allow the children to maintain a positive, healthy relationship with both parents. It's best for your children, and it will be best for you in court.
Aramas Law is a boutique law firm which specialises in achieving Family Law settlements and offering the best possible advice.
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