Building a new normal for your family

It’s an unfortunate fact. Sometimes couples make the decision to separate and it’s rarely an easy decision. However, if you are married with kids, going through a divorce is especially tough. While many factors play a part in a divorce, one of the most contentious areas is deciding who children will stay with once their parents are no longer living together.

And at a time when our children have already been through such great upheaval, parents who are divorcing need to work hard to keep things as normal as possible for their kids, but how do you manage this when a marriage has broken down?

Minimising the impact

Through our years of experience dealing with families in this situation, we know that parents who have a good understanding of their options can make better choices for the future of their families.

Studies have shown that, unsurprisingly, keeping life as normal as possible for children following a divorce minimises the negative impact on them.

Things the courts will consider

If arrangements for children are being decided by a court, bear in mind the court will take all the circumstances into account including:

  • The respective houses of the parents

  • Schooling:

  • Friends & Family

  • The children’s preferences

The court’s paramount consideration is always the best interests of the children.

Arranging shared care

We have many clients who want to operate a shared care arrangement and there are a number of ways to do this. Below we outline the most popular options for shared care and the pros and cons of each, although each family’s situation is unique.

  • Alternate weeks: The benefit of this option is that it gives the children a longer period of time in each home, rather than having to move frequently, so they can feel more settled.

  • Split the week in half: This option can be confusing for children and can only work if both homes are close to each other. But it does reduce the absence time from both parents and can work if a good routine is established, especially for older children.

  • Weekends: In some cases, a good option is one parent having the children during the week and them staying with the other one at weekends. This helps to instil a good sense of routine and can also work well where one parent has moved away from the child’s school for example.

  • Ad-hoc arrangements: For some families, ad-hoc arrangements for shared care may be the best option as they allow for flexibility on all sides. These tend to work better with older children where establishing a routine is not so important. As long as all parties are in agreement, more flexible living arrangements can work out fine.

Keeping the conversation going

Without a doubt, it’s best all round if an amicable agreement can be reached between the parents for joint shared care of the children after a divorce. If divorcing couples can sit down to talk about the future of the family, a better outcome is always possible. Many children from families who have been through a divorce enjoy a happy and stable future with great relationships with both parents.

At Gibson Kerr, we have many years’ experience in dealing with divorce and child contact arrangements. If you are in this situation and feel you need some advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Family Law partner Fiona Rasmusen by calling 0131 226 9161 or by email for a confidential, no-obligation chat.