Ensuring the well being of children during and after a divorce

By Lenore Rice

In a separation or divorce involving children it is absolutely paramount to ensure and maintain their wellbeing throughout and after the divorce proceedings. Here are somethings you will have to consider in respect of the children during the process.

Where the children will live

When a marriage breaks down, alongside the issue of what will happen to the family home and how to divide up any marital assets, the question of where the children will live needs to be effectively and tactfully addressed.

For example, the children may live with one parent most of the time but visit the other parent during the weekend.

When you’re considering what is best for your children and what is most acceptable for yourself and your spouse, you should try to think about:

  • Who has the most time to look after the children, and which days have the greatest availability in order to maximise the quality time your children get to enjoy
  • The sorts of activities your children do versus where each parent will live, as it is perhaps not the best idea to have children living a long way from their schools during the week
  • Anything that could change in the future, such as the children moving to a new school

Keeping in touch with your children

  • While you and your partner are deciding where the children will live, and when, you should also try to work out how each parent will stay in contact with the children while they’re staying with the other parent. This could be by using phoen calls, text messages or instant messengers such as Whatsapp, or video calls such as Skype or Facetime.
  • This is particularly relevant and important if one parent moves far away from their children after leaving the family home
  • You should also agree how you will keep in contact with your ex-partner in case of emergency, especially regarding the welfare of the children.

Child maintenance

There are obvious financial factors when a couple separate and they have to make plans to move from one household to two separate households, cars, food budgets etc. It's essential that your children don't miss out on the maintenance and support costs they are owed. A negotiated settlement between both parties is the best and most cost effective resolution to financial issues. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, it will be necessary to make an Ancillary Relief application to the Court. Orders for child maintenance can be made in certain circumstances but normally an application must be made to the Child Support Agency. The Court retains jurisdiction to make orders for child maintenance in certain limited circumstances such as school fees or medical expenses.

 For example, the Court can issue an Order to deal with:

  • School fees
  • The needs of a child with specific requirements
  • Introducing  a ‘top up’ order if the maintenance from the CSA order reaches its upper limits

In terms of the other types of Orders the Court can make in divorce proceedings, it can make orders for:

  • Maintenance of your ex-partner
  • Maintenance for your children
  • A lump sum for your partner
  • A ‘property adjustment’ or ‘transfer of property’ order
  • Giving a share or claim in an ex-partner’s pension fund

How Wilson Nesbitt can help

Our team of experienced child custody solicitors can give you legal advice and help in the following ways:

  • free initial legal advice
  • clear explanation of the options available to you and your child
  • let you know whether you will qualify for legal aid and if not what the cost implications are for you.

We'll assist and guide you through the negotiation and court processes and try to obtain a satisfactory resolution for you and your child.

Next Steps

Take the next step and call us on Freephone number 0800 840 9292 or send us your details.