What makes a good children law specialist? Often the first question people will ask their lawyer is ‘Do you have children yourself?’ which is curious. I am not sure how many potential clients would ask their criminal lawyer whether he or she had done time!
The law dealing with disputes amongst children is a gift to practitioners in that it makes the children the first, only and last consideration. Whatever we advise our clients, we must also focus on what is in the best interests of the children. The problem is that there are usually two parents with completely opposing ideas of what IS in the best interests of their children, often both full of love and acting with the best possible intentions! This is where a gifted family lawyer can help parents through fear, distress and anger, encourage them to put themselves in their children’s shoes and make decisions that truly ARE in their best interests.
5 things your kids will thank you for:
Don’t kid yourself.
Children learn everything they need to know about relationships from their parents. What does a house filled with tension and resentment teach them? Children don’t thank their parents for staying together ‘for them’. Two happy homes with fulfilled and committed parents are much better than one miserable one.
If it’s over, be honest. Tell them in an age appropriate what is going to change and a little bit about why. Involving them, especially if you feel that you can both tell children about changes together, will take away some of the fear and unsettling feelings. Make sure everything comes with lots and lots of reassurance about how much they are loved by both of you.
Try to keep as much of the old routine in place as possible but make sure that there are settled arrangements for children to be with both parents as soon as practical. Children are remarkably resilient and adapt to all sorts of changes so do not panic.
If one parent isn’t turning up to contact sessions, birthday parties or swimming lessons, address it with them yourself or with a solicitor if you feel unable. It may be that it could be easily sorted with some flexibility on both parts. If it gets worse, don’t lie to children. Don’t be brutal but honesty is kinder than pretence in the long run.
Don’t dish the dirt
You might try your hardest not to argue in front of your children but you can guarantee that they will soak up every negative feeling like little sponges. Try to be civil and if you really can’t speak to each other use email or agree to use your solicitors to contact each other for a cooling off period.
Remember Mum will always be Mum and Dad will always be Dad. Things get very complicated for children if they feel conflicted in loving one parent when the other says that he or she is a bad person.
Accept you are going to be in each other’s lives as parents. Full Stop.
As soon as parents get their heads around this, everything becomes easier. You might not love each other and you might not agree on much but you both still love and want the best for your children.
A good children law specialist ultimately will help parents realise that the best people to make decisions about children is their parents.