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Our top tips to help you and your children manage your divorce or separation

Posted on 10th November, 2017

It’s a bit of a minefield when you separate, isn’t it?  How do you know what you’re supposed to be doing and when?  Are you missing something important that will go against you in the future?  How do your explain it all to your children and make sure you're doing your best for them?


Well this blog sets out our top tips to help you and your children manage your separation and divorce as easily as possible, and these tips apply whether you were married or not.


1. At some point you’re going to have to have that discussion with the children, explaining to them how things are going to be from now on. If at all possible, it’s usually best if both of you can have that discussion with the children together.  That will help the children feel as secure as possible about the future, reassuring them that you’ll both continue to be there for them, even if you aren’t living together anymore.  It’s also important to try your hardest not to blame each other for the separation.  This doesn’t just apply during that first conversation with the children – try not to blame each other or talk down about each other in front of the children at all.  Bear in mind that the children are part of you both and by talking down about one of their parents, they may be left feeling bad about themselves.  And children hear more than you think – you may not think they’re in earshot but there’s a good chance they’ll either hear or pick up on things that are being said about their other parent.


2. Consider early-on what arrangements should be put in place for the children. It’s important for the children to know that they’re going to be seeing both parents and to know that plans are in place, even if those plans are only temporary while longer term plans are sorted out between you.  And remember that the arrangements should be in the children’s best interests – don’t demand the children’s time simply because you want what you think is fair to you.  Think about whether it’s fair to the children.


3. Work out what child support (sometimes called child maintenance) should be paid and by who. If one of you is no longer living with the children or doesn’t have them for more than a night or so a week, it is likely that parent should be paying child support.  And bear in mind that the child support payable isn’t just to pay for treats for the children, it goes towards their share of the household expenses too.  Child support is handled by the Child Maintenance Service if parents can’t sort it out between themselves – although parents are encouraged to try to sort it out between them.  It is sometimes useful to check out what would be payable, as part of discussions between you – there is an online calculator at  But bear in mind that the calculator will give the minimum expected payment – there is nothing to stop you reaching an agreement for more to be paid if it’s affordable and appropriate for you.


4. Plan ahead for Christmas (as well as any other upcoming special occasions such as birthdays and Easter). A lot of people leave it until December-time to start thinking about arrangements for the children over Christmas, but that can be too late if you can’t agree.  If your ex insists on the children staying with him or her for the whole of the Christmas period, you might want to issue a court application to get that resolved - but if you’ve left it until December, you may have left it too late to get it into court.  So start thinking about arrangements for these special occasions sooner rather than later.


5. If you can’t agree, get a referral to mediation asap (unless there’s been domestic abuse). It can be difficult to talk to your ex, particularly in the immediate aftermath of separation, but issues relating to the children need to be sorted out as soon as possible.  A referral to mediation shouldn’t be seen as an aggressive step – it’s often the best means to work things through in the best interests of the family.  A trained mediator will help you reach an agreement that suits you all and will keep you both from going off on a tangent about who did what last year, or who said what to who 5 years ago.  The mediator will keep you to the subject at hand and help you reach an agreement, on neutral territory.  And mediation is a requirement, in most cases, before a court application can be issued anyway. 


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