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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

The child contract

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A Twitter contact of mine came up with a beautifully simple solution to the age old problem of how parents continue parenting when a relationship breaks down: a Children Contract.

This would be a document filled with parents’ goals, pledges and aspirations for children, useful during a relationship but invaluable during separation. How helpful would it be to make this at a time when parents can easily acknowledge what the other parent can offer their children, be open about where parenting strengths and weaknesses lie and constructively discuss the points at where values or opinions or inherited issues conflict rather than when each feels duty bound to be all things to the child in question and determined to prove that they can do it his or her own way with minimum involvement with the other parent.

Like a Living Together or Prenuptial Agreement (which, if they touch on children, often deal mainly with financial provision rather than practical and aspirational considerations) the Children Contract can also plan for what should happen in the sad event that parents stop being partners. Where children should live, how time should be divided between parents, what day to day life should look like, how parents should interact, how new partners should be involved and so on. All of these are issues that would be far less confusing for children (and for parents) if they were considered from a place of co-parenting and love rather than hurt and fear.

And that is really why the Children Contract is fantastic idea. A marriage contract lasts until the marriage is dissolved. Parents never stop being parents. A Children Contract is for life!

If you’re a parent – would you sign such a contract, or do you wish you had?

Kathryn McTaggart
Family law solicitor

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