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Divorce law blog

I know my ex and I arguing is upsetting our children. What can I do?

30/11/2018   By: Claudia Gilham

There are very few separations between parents that are entirely argument or conflict free. Moving from a family in which two parents live together, then deciding to separate and ultimately moving on independently from each other whilst continuing to co-parent effectively and support your children takes time, commitment and a willingness to work together.

Here are my five top suggestions for working through this difficult time.

  • Always put your children first in any discussions you have with your ex about ongoing arrangements. It might be helpful to write down how you feel, how your ex feels and how you think your children might feel if asked.
  • Don’t discuss issues in front of your children. Arrange a time that is convenient for you and your ex to talk away from them. When discussing issues that need to be sorted out, think about the short, medium and long term consequences of the decisions you are making. This can help keep issues in perspective. Provided it is safe, children need both parents throughout lives.
  • If you cannot agree on a particular point, try to come up with three or four potential solutions. Try not to view it as your position versus your ex’s. Often, if you draw up a list of alternatives a solution that is not only acceptable to both of you as parents but, more importantly, is in your children’s best interests and one they will be happy with will present itself.
  • Try to remain positive about your ex, regardless of your personal feelings. Children naturally see part of their identity as being based on their parents and will take criticism of a parent personally. If you bad-mouth your ex, you may find your children taking that criticism on board themselves, which in turn will affect their self-esteem and feelings of well-being.
  • If it is proving difficult to agree things directly, don’t let the parenting relationship break down altogether. Instead seek out some professional support. There are many types of support available to help parents to work towards arrangements that suit the whole family and place the children’s needs first. For example, mediation could be suitable for you. Or you could attend a Separated Parents Information Programme, a course that helps you identify what your children need during and after your separation or divorce. For information about options for professional support available to parents, a good starting point is our blog here or contact the specialist children lawyers at Mills & Reeve who will be happy to point you in the right direction.

This blog is part of a series of blogs written by our specialist children lawyers for Resolution’s Good Divorce Week 2018. Look out for blogs this week dealing with online support for separating parents, Resolution’s Parenting Charter and tips on sorting out arrangements for Christmas.

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