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Some Hints for Separating Parents

You Should:

  1. Attempt mediation before litigation.
  2. Consider joint responsibility/decision-making, if able to cooperate.
  3. Consider sharing holidays rather than alternating.
  4. Tell the child in advance about the separation, together.
  5. Don’t move more often than necessary.
  6. Be sensitive to the child’s needs.
  7. If you make plans for time with the children, tell the other parent.
  8. Observe time schedules.
  9. Be flexible about contact.
  10. Try to resolve your anger at the other parent.
  11. Ensure that parental decisions are made by the parents.
  12. Tell the children they are still loved by both of you.
  13. Try to have a good relationship with the other parent.
  14. Try to be good role models.
  15. Try to attend school conferences together.
  16. Inform the other parent about illnesses etc.
  17. Remember that teenagers need substantial time with the same-sexed parent.
  18. Remember that children need time with their grandparents.
  19. Make plans directly with the other parent, not through the children.
  20. Maintain household routines and rules in both houses as much as possible.
  21. Live as close as possible to the other parent.

 

You Should Not:

  1. Agree to a 50/50 alternating arrangement unless there is a history of this since separation or a very strong involvement of both parents in caring for children during the relationship – see further information below headed “EQUAL SHARED CARE” ARRANGEMENTS.
  2. Expect overnight visits for infants – note there is no hard and fast rule on this as circumstances may change the result.
  3. Foster the child’s guilt about the separation.
  4. Allow school-aged children to refuse contact.
  5. Allow adolescents to be too parental (make decisions for you).
  6. Collude with a child’s “acting out” behaviour.
  7. Take sides with the child in a dispute against the other parent.
  8. Communicate through the children.
  9. Fight with or denigrate the other parent in front of the child.
  10. Arrange a contact visit then come late or not at all.
  11. Punish the child or other parent by withholding contact.
  12. Discuss the financial or other aspects of the separation with the child.
  13. Believe everything (or better still anything) the child says about the other parent.
  14. Use the child/ren as a pawn.
  15. Let the child/ren have too much decision power.
  16. Let the child/ren assume too much responsibility.
  17. Separate the children.
  18. Introduce the child to everyone you are dating.
  19. Let the child observe sexually intimate behaviour.
  20. Let the child sleep in your bed.
  21. Ask the child to keep secrets from the other parent.
  22. Take the child to your solicitor’s office.
  23. Discuss with the child or in his/her presence anything about the Court case.
  24. Discuss with the child what was said in letters, documents or reports.
  25. Ask the child what they were told by the other party, social workers or counsellors.

 

“EQUAL SHARED CARE” ARRANGEMENTS

These are very difficult to manage and will only have some chance of working when:

  1. Both homes would be fully furnished for all occupants, be of equal standard and have the same sleeping arrangements in both households (e.g. the children have their own bedrooms or share in both houses);
  2. The respective homes are both handy to the children’s schools and preferably (but not essential) their other activities;
  3. All the children easily adapt to change;
  4. All the children have an equally strong attachment or relationship with both parents;
  5. All the children’s lifestyle can come first so they have it easier as to their school and other interests;
  6. All the children and the family can cope with the demands of coming and going;
  7. Both parents can provide protective facilities and minimize the suitcase factor;
  8. Both parents truly co-parent and have the emotional and material resources to manage that;
  9. Both parents can communicate effectively and politely with each other;
  10. There are no domestic violence issues;
  11. Both parents should accept that the children may in the future want to move to a primary residence situation with one or the other parent;
  12. Neither parent should discuss living arrangements with the children (e.g. asking them where they want to live).