It was recently announced that Manchester-based actor and comedian John Thomson is separating from his wife after 10 years of marriage. The ex-couple who have two children have declared their intentions to remain friends and co-parent their daughters.
Publicly declaring such intentions is a good start to any future care arrangements for your children. However, in reality just how easy is it to agree on what’s best for them and remain on good terms when a marriage or long term relationship has broken down?
Most separating parents will agree that the needs of the child must come first, but sadly in the throes of a break up, these good intentions can quickly be forgotten. Anger and resentment can come into play and unresolved issues over access to children and the family’s assets can often cause huge arguments. No matter how hard you try to shield any issues or upset from your child, never underestimate the emotional turmoil that a separation can cause him or her. Especially when a whole new set of living arrangements or schedule for seeing a parent is thrust upon them.
For any separating parents, there is a lot of support and advice available to help ensure their future relationship remains amicable for the sake of the children. Our guidance to any parents in this situation would be to seek out this help so that all good intentions remain intact.
Where applicable we would recommend our clients attend a Separated Parent Information Programme (SPIP), which helps parents focus on the needs of children as the family goes through a break up. The programmes are generally run by mediators or organisations that support separating families and help parents to recognise the potential damage that any bitterness or conflict can have on a child.
The programme can help parents (and in some cases step parents or grandparents) who are applying to the courts for a divorce, to consider the situation impartially and look at it from a child’s point of view. It aims to support separating parents and help them find ways of communicating with each other without conflict and teaches them the importance of taking responsibility for their future behaviour towards their ex-partner.
Never underestimate the challenge of co-parenting successfully. Learning how to communicate effectively and without conflict is the key to a successful separation for the whole family.
Shelley is a Partner and joint Head of the Family Law team. She has specialised in family law for over 25 years. She has particular expertise in complex financial negotiations where the assets include businesses, diverse pension schemes and substantial investment portfolios.
Shelley is also a member of the Children Panel and has extensive experience representing children and their parents in proceedings and in particular in disputes over removal from the jurisdiction.