Along with most of the country, the Burt Brill & Cardens family team have recently started watching the second series of Dr Foster. Perhaps due to our roles family solicitors, we are instantly drawn to poor Tom being in the middle of his parents’ revenge-seeking antics. Do his parents know the impact their behaviour is having on their son?
We appreciate that as this is a television show, scenes and dialogues have been exaggerated for dramatic effect. However, warring parents who use their children against each other is sadly a common occurrence and often has a long-term impact on children, either in their personal development or in their relationship with their parents.
As solicitors that specialise in issues affecting children, here are the three first steps we suggest for any parent who is going through, or considering, separation from their spouse or partner.
Children pick up on any sort of tension, so it is advisable to have discussions regarding contact, divorce, or separation away from the children. Avoid entering into any protracted text messages and/or emails with your ex-partner. If discussions are becoming heated, just stop them. Do not send any messages which would reflect badly on you in any court proceedings. There are online resources to assist separating parents, such as the Gingerbread website.
If you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement, you may benefit from the advice and guidance of a family solicitor. A family solicitor will be able to write letters to your ex-partner on your behalf and offer you guidance on the options available to you in moving forward. Having the assistance of a third party can reduce the heat in a situation and allow for sensible discussions to take place. A solicitor will also assess if your case is suitable for Mediation. Please note that Mediation may not be suitable for when there have been allegations of domestic abuse.
If negotiations between your solicitor and your ex-partner break down or Mediation reaches an impasse, then the last resort will be issuing an application to Court. The law relating to children requires that any decisions must prioritise the welfare of the child, not the parents. The advantages of a Court application are that there will be a final resolution and you will have the assistance of both Cafcass and a Judge. Cafcass is a government funded organisation which will review a case involving a child at the initial stage and may be required to prepare a further report and/or make recommendations in some cases. The disadvantage of Court proceedings are the fees if you are represented, and that the outcome may differ from your original objective.
Please contact a member of our family team to discuss how to deal with matters in the most beneficial way to your case.