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contact with baby

  • puffafish
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22 Mar 08 #17415 by puffafish
Topic started by puffafish
We have been separated for 3 months and are getting divorced.
My S2BX moved in with his mum and sees our daughter every Sunday from 9 - 5pm. Also his mum has her every Tuesday from 7.15am - 5.45pm, then he has her at his mum's from 5.45pm until he brings her home at 7pm.
He wants to go for joint residence, having her from Sunday to Wednesday one week, then Sunday till Thursday alternate weeks. (He works fulltime and trains karate every Monday and Wednesday evening so I think it's for his mum's benefit).I am against this as she is only 22 months old and has just made the transition from cot to bed. She is settled into a good bedtime routine and I don't want to rock the boat. I will be quite happy for her to stay overnight on alternate Saturdays when she is old enough to understand the concept of staying overnight. Do you think two full days are enough at this stage? She also has a half brother and sister that she would miss if joint residence was granted.

  • Fiona
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22 Mar 08 #17424 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
Shared residency doesn't have to be 50:50, it could be a third of the time or less . The important things are the child perceives they have two homes, there are fluid transitions between the homes and there is a history of shared care.

Each family is different and each child is too. The plan for each child needs deciding after careful thought about the needs of our child and your family circumstances. Some of the points to consider are:

    • Think about how time can be arranged so your children can keep the relationships
    they have. Also, about how to ensure they will get the best quality of parenting
    and care from both you and their other parent and key family members in future.
    This means considering overnight stays and the children spending holidays and
    going on outings with each parent.

    • Children under three may find staying contact more difficult than older children,
    so particular care and sensitivity is needed when making arrangements
    at this age.

    • The nature of our child's existing relationship with each parent or carer and the possibilities for future development of those relationships should be taken into account. You may have been less involved with the children than you wanted in the past due to your living arrangements and work. You may be anxious about coping with contact and need support. You may never have lived with the other parent, so contact may be about starting a relationship with a child rather than maintaining one.

    • Consider the children’s routines and activities before family break up and try
    to continue with them as far as possible. This can reassure children and help
    them avoid feeling loss. Remember that children can also benefit from more
    attention from parents and carers than they used to get.

    • After separation, you may not live near other family members and your
    accommodation may be unsuitable for overnight stays. Your means of transport,
    travelling costs and the availability of public transport are major factors in
    deciding what contact is possible. Making contact happen and thinking
    about how costs will be covered by the family are part of shared parenting.

    • If there is any violence, alcohol and drug misuse, or psychiatric illness in
    the family, the parenting plan will need to take account of this to ensure the
    safety of your children. In order to benefit from contact, children must be
    safe and need to feel safe. Occasionally the risk of harm to the child will be
    greater than the possible benefits of contact and it may be best for it not to
    happen at all or to take place where risks to the child and possibly a parent
    can be kept to the minimum.

    • Your parenting plan must be for the benefit of your children and not about
    parental time-shares. If you do not focus on your children’s needs, they
    may feel like parcels being moved between addresses.

    • Your children’s wishes need taking into account. Older children have friends
    they want to keep and interests that are important to them. They will want
    parenting plans that allow for their social activities.

    • Children mature at different rates so do not expect your children to manage
    similar arrangements to others of the same age; some children are confident and independent, others are shy and clinging. Young children may need much
    reassurance to be away from the place they usually see as home without getting distressed. Younger children usually manage frequent, short periods of contact
    best; older children may prefer longer, less frequent periods.

    • Be flexible and update your parenting plan over time. As children grow older
    their needs and circumstances will change, so will yours. Each family is different and each child is too. The plan for each child needs deciding after careful thought about the needs of your child and your family circumstances.

Following separation 90% of families decide their own contact arrangements
without court involvement and this way of deciding a parenting plan has the best chance of working well. If you cannot agree, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Before applying to the court you should first consider mediation, a confidential service with trained mediators to assist you in making your own decisions (see ‘Advice and support’ page 16). The government Parenting Plans booklet may also be of help (a printable version can be found in the Information section at www.cafcass.gov.uk).

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