Who cares for the children?

Whenever parties separate and there are children, then a decision has to be made as to whom the children are going to live with.  Do they stay mainly with one parent and have contact with the other or is there some sort of shared parenting arrangement whereby, as far as possible, the children spend equal time with both parents?  Is this a good idea?  Is it a good idea for the parents but not for the children?  How do families best manage the care of their children?  Who cares for the children? 2 children at the windowVery often both parents want to be fully involved with their children’s lives but face the practical difficulty that really the children can only live with one parent which means contact with the other can often be intermittent, alternate weekends and a few days during the week.  Is this enough to maintain proper contact and a good relationship with your child or children? Lots of fathers fear losing their children if they separate from the child’s mother.  But equally mothers too fear losing their children in some way.  Even if the children live mainly with the mother, there will be weekends when they will be with their father who may have a new partner and possibly even a new family.  Separation can cause pain all round. There has been a lobby suggesting that if the time the children spent with both parents was equal this would necessarily be the best in all cases.  This highlights the fact that this presumption actually risks subordinating a child’s best interest to the parents’ expectations of ‘equal’ rights.  It can be hard when parents separate to decide what is best for the children as opposed to what is the best for them, the parents.  Do children really want to spend half the time with one parent and half the time with the other with all the practical difficulties involved in changing from one house to another? Sometimes this can be the best arrangement, particularly if the parents live near to each other and get on well.  But if the parents do not get on well and cannot see each other without arguing then going constantly backwards and forwards creates a lot of tension. Obviously it is best if that tension can be avoided or dissipated altogether as both parents and children learn to move on and deal with their new situation. All that can be said really is that there should be no hard and fast ‘rule’.  It is not the case the children automatically stay with their mother:  it is the case that both mums and dads need to look at what is actually best for their children and most of all try and have a good relationship with each other, even though you have separated, to ensure that the time the children spend with both of you is good. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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Is a good divorce possible?

little-boy-and-dog-300x216When people separate they are generally going through enormous distress and anxiety, so how can it be in any way good? There is the point that although the process can be a very painful one, for some people they end up in a better place emotionally. The relationship, for whatever reason, has not worked and moving on to be alone and comfortable with that or to be with a new partner is often far better than staying in a difficult and possibly destructive relationship. Nevertheless if there are children both parents will fear losing contact with the children. Often there is an assumption that the children will stay with their mother. But women still worry about losing their children in some way. The children may spend time with their father who, if he is the breadwinner, may have more resources to give the children a better time, or so the mother fears. So there is anxiety for both parents. Added to that, children will notice difficulties between the parents well before you think they do. So try and focus on the children as soon as possible and this may help to be able to work towards separating on better terms. In order to separate ‘better’, and to achieve if not a good divorce then at least a less awful divorce or separation, parents need to realise that if they can work together in relation to what is going to happen to the children, then neither of them will in any sense ‘lose’ the children. Surely collaboration or mediation, whereby from the outset parents agree not to go to court and to do their best to cooperate - often sitting round a table together to find solutions that best suit their particular situation - must be a better way. Inevitably when parties separate there is less money; there is no solution which will enable the parties to be in exactly the same position financially as when together, and inevitably you will be worse off financially. But that does not mean that solutions are impossible. There is generally a way to ensure one way or another that both parents can be adequately rehoused, and in such a way that both parents can have the children staying with them. Most importantly though, if parents can work together in relation to the arrangements for the children, both parents can then play a significant part in the rest of the children’s lives. Every parent will want to be able to attend school events, university graduations, weddings and any other significant family event. You may not be best friends with your ex-partner, but it would be good to be able to attend those joint family occasions after you have separated. So right from the outset there are a lot of good reasons to make a commitment to collaborate in some way. To work out with the help of collaborative lawyers, mediators or other advisers how to arrange your finances so that although you are living separately you can in a way you decide together co-parent the children for the rest of their lives. It has got to be worth making the effort from the outset to do this for yours and your children’s sakes. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.  
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Mediating family fallouts after a death

It is not commonly realised that if you live with someone to whom you are not married, if you do not make a Will leaving your assets to them, then on your death they will not automatically receive anything from your estate. Flowers in window - CroppedFamily arrangements are now increasingly complex.  People may have married and divorced, remarried or lived with somebody and they may have had children with a number of different partners;  so it is often not clear as to who “their children” are.  What happens when people die without a Will or without making their intentions clear? If there is uncertainty, if it is not clear who is going to inherit, then families can, and often do, fall out.  Perhaps there is an unmarried partner - they will have a claim to part of the estate - obviously any children will also have a claim, and possibly children from a previous marriage will have a claim if they are still and young and dependant in any way.  What about a spouse or an ex-spouse? If the person who dies is living with someone to whom they are not married then that person may expect to inherit the house, but under the Rules of Intestacy it may pass to children or other relatives.  Houses are valuable assets and are worth arguing over.  All the family members have different and competing interests.  If they all instruct Lawyers to argue their case and there is a possibility that the matter will go to Court then tens of thousands of pounds can be spent and those very assets that are in dispute are used up paying legal fees! Ideally you should make a Will that sets out your intentions very clearly but if there is no Will or if there is still a dispute, then far better to consider mediation. Mediation is very relevant when there are family fallouts and disputes about Wills or what is to happen to assets on death, just as it is relevant when people separate.  It is equally important to try and resolve differences without going to the Court and for all sides to reach an agreement that they can be happy with.  Otherwise a lot of money can be spent going to Court where an arbitrary decision is made which may suit no one. Far better to mediate than to litigate. For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email info@cotswoldmediation.com.
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