Caught in the Middle – Children and Divorce

While divorce is clearly a hugely stressful process for both parties, it is just as stressful for the innocent parties involved: children. Of course, all loving parents know and understand this, and will do everything they can to minimise the effects of the breakdown of their relationship on their children. 

Child Arrangements Order

Legally, divorcing parents have an array of rights and responsibilities designed to advance the rights and interests of their children. Perhaps the most important of these is what is known as a Child Arrangements Order.

If divorcing parents cannot agree on how to split the care of their children, a court order will be put in place setting out who is responsible for the care of a child. A Child Arrangements Order will state whom the children live with, where they live and when and how the children will see both parents.

For example, they may spend weeknights with one parent, and weekends with the other. It can also detail other types of contact such as phone calls, cards and letters and so on. 

The process of applying for a Child Arrangements Order will usually involve several hearings, and children over the age of nine years may need to attend court and meet with a court officer so their needs, wishes and feelings can be considered by the court, and for the court to precisely understand how each parent is capable of meeting the child’s needs. 

At every stage of the process, the wellbeing of the child is paramount in the eyes of the court.

Child Maintenance

Child Maintenance is another area where the disagreements between the parents can overshadow the needs of the child. Child Maintenance covers how the child’s living costs will be paid when one of the parents does not live with the child. You must have a Child Maintenance Agreement if the child is under 16 (or under 20 if still in full-time education).

Child Maintenance can be agreed privately, between parents, or through the government’s Child Maintenance Service. 

Caught in the middle 

Children are often caught in the middle between separating parents during times of heightened emotions and in emotionally charged situations. They can often find it difficult to discuss their feelings, which is not good for their emotional wellbeing – they can experience feelings of loss, confusion, anxiety and anger.  

It is crucial that children are listened to, to make sure they do not feel rejected or insecure. If you are considering or undergoing divorce, it is important to proceed with care, and with the best professional advice available. Contact PowellsLaw at on 01934 623 501 or email helpforyou@powellslaw.com. Or visit our website for more information.

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