By Laura Ousby Solicitor
One of the most common questions I am asked when I meet parents who are going through separation or divorce and are looking to make arrangements for contact with their child is “what is normal?”
My usual response is that there is no “normal”. Every family is unique and to suggest something is “normal” can lead parents to make arrangements that are unsuitable and do not work.
The key focus should always be on what is right for the child. If the matter were to become contentious and referred to court, the court would look at what is in the child’s best interests. A basic starting point is that it is almost always in the best interests of the child to have a continuing relationship with both parents.
Arrangements must then take into account the realities of childcare, work, school (and the locations of these as travelling times must be considered) and other responsibilities, such as sports clubs or after-school clubs, which may mean that certain ways of splitting time are logistically difficult.
Parents must try to not let emotions get in the way. Sometimes, the parent who has made the choice to leave the family home feels guilty and may experience feeling as though they have abandoned their child. This may lead to them proposing that the care for the child should be split equally when practically this may not be realistic. The parent who remains in the family home may feel anger towards their ex-partner and may want their child to have as little contact as possible with their other parent but again, this may not be practical when it comes to work commitments and childcare. It may not be in the child’s best interests.
It is important to do what is right for the child and any arrangements should be made with this in mind. If your relationship has broken down and you would like to talk to a solicitor about making such arrangements, contact Laura Ousby in our family team on 01228 516666 or click here to email Laura direct.
We also offer a free session with a trained counsellor giving you the chance to discuss the emotional issues arising on separation or divorce.