Telling the Children

For most children the news that their parents are splitting up is devastating. It might help to try and empathise, think about how you would have felt or did feel when your parents divorced. Follow our simple Dos and Don'ts when talking to your children about your separation:

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Maintenance for children is usually sorted out as part of Ancillary Relief (the financial settlement) and is calculated separately from any maintenance paid to a spouse. In working out how much maintenance you think you need to pay or should be getting consider extras such as who will be paying for school fees and extra curricular activities.

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Residency used to be known as custody. It refers to the parent with whom the children live and recognises that the absent parent still has parental responsibility (parental responsibility is automatic if the parents were married or the father's name is on the birth certificate and the child was born after December 1st 2003. A parental responsibility agreement may also have been signed). This means that the absent parent can have a say in their child's upbringing by making decisions regarding their education, religion and medical needs.

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Formerly known as Access, Contact is where the children spend time with the non-resident parent and can write or telephone inbetween. Most contact agreements are settled amicably with many parents recognising the need for their children to maintain a relationship with both.

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Where there are disputes involving children the court will assign a Cafcass Officer (sometimes referred to as court welfare officer) to prepare reports. Cafcass waiting lists are long and an officer may not be assigned to your case until many months after the directions hearing. Ring your local Cafcass office and ask to speak to the officer in charge. You can then find out how long it is likely to take and keep gentle pressure on to ensure your case is dealt with as quickly as possible. However, do not become aggressive or harass them unnecessarily, remember that you need these people to be on your side. 

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Dealing with False Allegations

Dealing with unfounded allegations against you can be emotionally draining, particularly if you feel that you have to jump through hopes to refute them. This is where the law falls down as many ex partners are left to prove their innocence whilst the ex partner rarely faces prosecution for making up lies and wasting the court's time. This is the only part of the legal system where a person is considered guilty until they can prove their innocence!

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Parental Alienation

PAS, as it is commonly known, currently has no legal standing in UK family law. It is a form of emotional abuse which involves one parent negatively conditioning their child against the other. Common cases will involve the children initially wanting to maintain contact with the other parent and changing their mind suddenly or over a period of time.

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Other Agencies

You may need to interact with other professionals and agencies during your divorce including your child's school and social services. Here is a quick guide to your rights and when you should involve them.

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Family Support Links

CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service)
The service that supports and prepares reports for the court in cases involving children, including contact and residency

Child Support Agency
Information and advice for child maintenance payments

Child Support Action
National Association offering help and support for people whose lives are affected by the Child Support Agency

Families Need Fathers (FNF)
Campaigning organisation recognising that children need two parents

National Association of Child Contact Centres
Offering a neutral place for the supervised contact of non-resident parents

See our links page for further links and support

Links for Fathers

Fathers 4 Justice
Campaigning for the rights of every child in the UK to have a relationship with their father and grandparents

Families Need Fathers (FNF)
Campaigning organisation recognising that children need two parents and calling for a change in the law to end the heartache of British fathers

See our links page for further links and support