If you have children, your Separation or Divorce must prioritise their needs. It is vital that the effect of all choices and decisions are considered from the children’s viewpoint. In our experience, when children remain at the top of your Agenda, then you have a greater chance of achieving a better separation which will be in the long term interests of your entire family.
If you are successful in keeping your separation out of court, using Mediation or Collaborative Law, your children will always be at the top of the Agenda. Their voices and views can be brought to the table by the use of professional counsellors who can speak with the children and be their voices through the process.
If your dispute is in court then the Judge can order that a report is obtained from a Child Psychologist, which will bring the children’s wishes to the attention of the court. The psychologists will meet with the children and parents, as part of this process, and will also usually issue their own professional recommendations with regard to access and custody in your case. Judges can also speak directly with children, depending on their age, maturity and whether it would be in the child’s interests to do so. Since the Children’s Referendum, Judges are in fact meeting more often with children, although it is still a rare enough practise.
Otherwise, at the moment, and until necessary reforms are made to our Family Court Structure giving the Voice of the Child a more permanent place, the remaining and most common way to hear children views, is through the voice of the parent. This naturally, can be coloured at times, by the parents emotions and wishes, and Judges are mindful of this.
Whatever the method, it is always the case, that the Voice of the Child should be an integral part of any family negotiation, and it is amazing how beneficial this is and how hearing their words can change outcomes.
FROM OUR BLOG:
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCESS TO PARENTS AFTER SEPARATION
It’s fairly widely accepted now that children who have healthy contact with both parents after separation or divorce do better than those in sole custody of one parent. Research shows they are better adjusted physically, psychologically, and socially with peers and at school – and shared parenting is the key to this outcome.
Therefore the way in which custody and access are handled in the process of a relationship breakdown has a huge effect on the outcome for children. Three of the key factors which affect children psychologically when their parents’ relationship breaks down are:
1. The exposure to conflict
2. Contact with the other parent after divorce or separation
3. Contact with their extended family – including grandparents.