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Divorce and family law explained 

Children used as bargaining tools claim Woolley & Co Solicitors

A recent poll of 4,000 parents and children revealed that 68% of parents confessed to using their children as “bargaining tools” when they separated, 19% of children said they felt used and a further 38% of children never saw their father again following separation. In light of these shocking statistics, the family lawyers at Woolley & Co Solicitors are advising parents that divorce should not become a war of attrition.

Andrew Woolley, senior partner at Woolley and Co, who can help with divorce rights and getting a divorce says, “Agreeing where the children live and when the absent parent sees them (child residence and contact) should not become a war. The most important thing is what is in the best interests of the child.

“In an ideal world, all parents would be able to sort out the arrangements for their children in an amicable and sensible way when they separate, treating each other with respect and focusing only on what they want for their children. But when a relationship breaks down emotions run high and can get in the way of this.”

Where communication between a couple has broken down there is often little possibility of the parents agreeing on anything. Parents need to try and be objective, talk to people who can help them, perhaps a family member or friend, and focus on putting their children’s needs first.

By putting aside their differences and thinking about their children’s needs, parents can provide a way forward when discussing arrangements for the children. The arrangements need to be clear, consistent and reliable for everyone involved.

An alternative to agreeing arrangements for the children between yourselves is to ask a Judge to decide. This can involve costly legal fees, a long drawn out process and further heighten the emotions.

Your divorce lawyer will be able to discuss what is appropriate in your particular case but it is generally considered to be in children’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents, whether or not they live together. The arrangements must be safe for the child with each parent supporting and encouraging their children to enjoy a positive relationship with the other parent. Parents should not expose children to continuing conflict as this can cause emotional harm.

Always consider if there is any scope for compromise. Discuss and try to agree about important things which will occur in your children’s lives such as, choice of religion, schooling and medical treatment. Try to be responsible and reasonable with the other parent. Remember, both parents need to work together for the benefit of their children, often for many years and it is therefore important to keep lines of communication open.

Mr Woolley, from the “virtual” family law firm added, “It is also important to talk to your child and listen to them. This does not mean giving them responsibility for making adult decisions but it does mean asking about their worries, what matters to them and if something is happening that they do not like.

Even living some distance apart from one of the parents does not mean the children cannot continue to have a relationship with both parents. Use can be made of the telephone, cards, letters, texts or e- mail. It is also important for children to keep in touch with other important people in their lives such as wider family members and close family friends.

Some parents may need additional support and there are a number of organisations that can help in this respect. All of our family lawyers at Woolley & Co are fully supportive and sympathetic and adopt a conciliatory and constructive approach to relationship breakdown helping parents to resolve their differences and work out the arrangements for their children. You can save time, money and heart ache by coming to a mutually agreeable arrangement over the children rather than entering a battle.

For advice on your legal rights in relation to your children contact Woolley & Co on 0800 3213832.

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