How do I deal with negative feelings towards my ex?
As a resident parent how can I make contact work?
How do I make my ex take their parental responsibility seriously?
What about contact for grandparents & extended family?
How should I respond to my child's feelings?
How can I compete with my ex partner for my child's affections?
How can I stop my children seeing my ex?

How do I deal with negative feelings towards my ex?

  • Remember that your children are individuals in their own right. They have a right to know both of their parents and this is independent of any feelings you may have towards to your ex
  • Get over it! If you are totally over the relationship you will not harbour feelings of hatred or revenge and should have no problem communicating with them in a reasonable manner. If you cannot do this seek counselling because your negative feelings are likely to impact upon your children
  • If you have residency do not view contact negatively. There may be activities that your ex can offer your children that you can't, for example playing football or make-up tips. Focus on the benefits for your children and use contact time to take some much deserved time off

As a resident parent how can I make contact work?

  • Be clear about any contact arrangements and stick to them. Children need routine and to know where they are. If your ex is messing around with contact talk it through or suggest mediation as a way to resolve any differences
  • Agree some ground rules, for example that you will not criticise the other in front of the children and how any new partners will be introduced
  • Encourage your children to write and ring the absent parent between visits. Children often experience a sense of loss when one parent leaves and this will help to reassure them that the other parent is still around for them
  • Ensure that you provide plenty of clothing, any medication and an emergency contact telephone number. They are still your primary responsibility and you will want to ensure that the other parent is able to meet their needs whilst in his or her care

How do I make my ex take their parental responsibility seriously?

  • Involve the other parent in decisions about their child. You should not have to make difficult decisions alone and this will reinforce to the other parent that they still have responsibility for their children
  • Keep the other parent informed. Let them know what is happening at school and your child's achievements. Tell them when a medical issue arises or when problems occur so that they can offer some support to your child
  • Stress to your ex that you need some time for yourself. Every parent needs to recharge their batteries once in a while, and if you take time to care for yourself you will be in a better position to care for your children

How do I deal with contact arrangements for grandparents & extended family?

  • Children often have a special bond with their grandparents and look forward to visiting and being spoilt. They may also be keen to maintain a relationship with cousins, aunts and uncles particularly if they visited regularly during the marriage
  • Make sure that the children are not simply passed on to other relatives during contact with the non-resident parent. Instead try and make separate arrangements for grandparents and extended family
  • Remember that grandparents can come in handy for babysitting and help out when you are sick. Try not to alienate them
  • Set ground rules for contact from the start. Insist that they do not blame or criticise the other parent. Most grandparents will accept any ground rules to ensure they continue to see their grandchildren

How should I respond to my child's feelings?

  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about the separation or divorce. If you have serious concerns that they are not coping emotionally or are showing signs of developing behavioural issues talk to your GP or their school about counselling
  • Let your child talk about the other parent freely. If they do something special with the other parent they may be excited so allow them to share their feelings with you and talk through any issues relating to the other parent's needs
  • Let your child's school, nursery or any clubs that they belong to know what is happening. They will be able to keep an eye on your child and note any behaviour that is out of character. Your child may also find it easier to open up to a professional such as teacher who is removed from the immediate situation
  • Encourage older children to visit our Young People section

How can I compete with my ex for my child's affections?

  • Children can be materialistic, and if your ex is buying expensive presents and things you cannot afford, try talking to him or her about your feelings and come to some arrangement
  • Remember that there is no substitute for love. As children get older they will recognise any attempts to buy their affection and love and care from a good parent will mean much more to them in the long term

How can I stop my children seeing my ex?

  • If this is because you are genuinely concerned that your children's physical safety is at risk, there are supervised and neutral venues for contact called Contact Centres. See our page on Contact for further details
  • Do not let your bitterness towards your ex cloud your judgement. Always ensure you are putting your children's welfare before your negative feelings
  • Be careful not to mix up your opinion with what is in the best interests of your children. If you are convinced that your ex is a "waste of space" let your children find out for themselves. If it is their decision then they are unlikely to turn against you or resent you for influencing them
  • If you still feel that contact is totally inappropriate and would be detrimental to your children you should contact a solicitor. There are options such as applying for a non-contact order or an injunction if, for example, your ex partner is physically violent

    However, if you do stop contact for personal reasons consider the following:

  • If you are not in the legal system already be aware that the court could become involved and your ability as a parent will come under scrutiny. Court battles are emotionally draining and potentially costly and lengthy
  • The courts are beginning to change their attitude to non resident parents, particularly fathers, and some are now being granted residency as a way of ensuring that their children maintain a relationship with two parents
  • Getting visibly distressed in front of your children, encouraging them to take sides or trying to divide their loyalties amounts to emotional blackmail. It is unfair on them and is a form of emotional abuse called Parental Alienation Syndrome. A loving parent will not subject their children to abuse to further their own cause particularly as it is them that will be the most hurt in the long term
  • If you lie to your children and make false allegations in court the truth will come out in the end. It may be many years after the separation but most children seek the truth from an absent parent when they are older, even if they have lost contact and been influenced against them. You will risk losing them altogether
  • If you teach your children to hate and not forgive do not be surprised if it eventually turns on you

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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