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A well respected, award winning social enterprise
Volunteer run - Government and charity funded
We help 50,000 people a year through divorce
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).
We provide the UK's lowest cost no-fault divorce service, managed by a well respected firm of solicitors.
Online mediation is a convenient and inexpensive way to agree on a fair financial settlement.
This legally binding agreement defines how assets (e.g. properties and pensions) are to be divided.