When parents separate, it can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time for all involved including any children of the family. Whilst parents very often do not intentionally involve their children in their divorce, with emotions running high, this can be the reality. Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division, spoke at a recent conference of the risk of damage to children which can be caused by parents through ongoing contact and residence disputes.
To help combat the difficulties that parents very often have when communicating with their children and ex-partner following separation, Relate run a course which attempts to assists parents in finding practical ways of making post-separation decisions regarding children, and communicating constructively for the benefit of the child. Courts are reportedly increasingly ordering separated parents to attend these courses where there are ongoing residence and contact proceedings. For example it has been reported that over two and a half thousand parents have attended the course since April this year, and indications are that the majority of parents who attend the course find it of assistance.
Anthony Douglas, Cafcass Chief Executive has said of the programmes that they “make parents more aware of the upset they may be causing their children, often without realising it”. It is not necessary for parents to attend the same session as the other parent and the Courts will only make a direction that parents should attend where it is safe to do so.
At Stephens Scown, we appreciate the importance of attempting to maintain a positive relationship between parents where possible. In the first instance we usually recommend that efforts are made to reach an agreement regarding arrangements for children on an amicable basis, although understand that this is not always possible.
If you would like advice or assistance regarding children proceedings following the breakdown of your relationship, please contact one of our Family Lawyers. We have offices in Exeter, St Austell and Truro with specialist lawyers available to advise you during this difficult time. We can also provide you with further information regarding the Separated Parents Information Programmes.