When a relationship comes to an end, it’s often an emotional time. You might find yourself dealing with grief at the end of the relationship, as well as financial stresses and general uncertainty about the future.

If there are children of the relationship, it can add an extra level of complexity. At Brooke Winter Solicitors, we are often consulted about separation or divorce involving children. So, we’ve put together a bit of general information about what happens when you’re separating from a spouse with children.

We hope it provides a useful starting point to help you understand your options. Note that if you’re in this situation, it’s a good idea to obtain specific legal advice.

How Do Children Affect Separation?

When you’re separating from a spouse with children under 18 years, you need to consider parenting arrangements. Although it can be difficult to work with your ex-spouse on this, you do need to reach an agreement before divorce can be granted.

Your parenting arrangement will also affect other decisions relating to your separation, such as property settlements and maintenance payments.

What is a Common Outcome?

The law currently says that it’s in a child’s best interest to see both parents, unless doing so would expose them to violence or child abuse. This means that it’s common for both parents to have time with the child.

Often, younger children end up spending more time with the mother. There are many reasons for this. For example, the mother might be breastfeeding.

Older children (from late primary school onwards) often end up living equally between each parent’s home. They might have a room in each parent’s house, with a subset of their belongings, and transition from place to place on a regular routine.

How Can I Make This Easier On My Kids?

It’s a good idea to limit children’s awareness of court proceedings. In fact, the court often orders parents not to discuss court proceedings with their children.

Sometimes, the court will ask an independent person to speak with the children to hear their views. In many situations, though, where it’s safe, it’s best for children to have access to both parents. It can also be reassuring for children to be able to stay at the same school if they can.

Separation is a difficult time for everyone. If you’re able to limit your child’s exposure to any disputes with your ex-spouse, this can help reduce their stress.

Contact our family lawyers today for advice.