Divorce is rarely easy but if you are unlucky enough to separate on bad terms, the experience can be one of the most difficult you ever go through. And if there are children involved? You can multiply the potential for heartache, conflict and rage several times over.
This is an area which is the very definition of contentious but nevertheless, every responsible parent will want to put their children first. To do so, both partners must behave in a reasonable way and be prepared to compromise, thinking of what is best for the children and not just what is best for them. Almost every parent thinks they already do that as a matter of course, but unfortunately, the reality is sometimes different.
You may no longer love your partner, but your children will have a different perspective. He or she will still have love and trust for the other person, emotions which are capable of transcending even the most painful of the situations experienced during the divorce. A child prevented from seeing a parent they still love will eventually bubble over with resentment towards the one trying to cut off contact . In the end, reasonableness pays!
If you and your partner, however, just cannot reach an agreement, the courts are the next step.
As far as the law is concerned, the needs and welfare of the child are paramount. He or she comes first in any decision and the parents a firm second. Any other people involved in the case will be ranked a relatively distant third.
The court can make any legal order in relation to a child – or none at all. It all depends on the circumstances. And no such order is ever permanent. It can always be changed or ‘discharged’ (cancelled) if the circumstances of the child alter.
But once a child of divorcing parents comes under the umbrella of the court, he or she will remain there until they reach adulthood. The court will be the ultimate arbiter in any problems.
The approach which the family courts will always take to parents is this: they have responsibilities towards their children and just not rights over them. That phrase has been repeated to me by some very experienced judges, and I would advise any parent to take heed.
At the end of the day, every couple should be able to reach a reasonable sensible compromise and agree to arrangements in the best possible interests of their children. If only it always worked out that way in practice!