A Four-step Formula To Reduce Half-term Friction
Peter Jones, Lawyer
The countdown to half-term holidays can spark the onset of headaches for many divorced and separated parents.
The perennial argument over who gets the children - and when - can be further exacerbated by work patterns and domestic arrangements.
Common issues include full time working fathers being unable to arrange days off when colleagues are also requesting leave - sparking mothers' concerns that their children will be put in Kids' Clubs or left with a new partner.
Similarly, a parent who works from home or does not work is better placed to justify having the children than their commuting ex.
With increasing family and work demands putting leisure time at a premium, rifts and tensions result in some couples ending up back in court. Here are some tips to reduce the emotional strain of half term.
1. Set objectives: just as in the wider context of separation and divorce, start with seeking to achieve what is best for the children, despite your feelings or grievances. Genuinely strive for what will make them happiest, don't criticise your ex in front of them - and avoid asking them directly or indirectly to take sides.
2. Be flexible: accept that children will want to see as much of both their parents, their grandparents, wider family and their friends as possible. It falls to both parents to try to achieve this - and if it means that you end up spending less time with your children this half-term, discuss it reasonably with your ex to make up for it in the next one.
3. Communicate regularly: talk to each other and plan ahead - giving you time to agree on and organise logistics, such as travel, seeing wider family and grandparents' access.
4. Keep the children updated on what's happening: they like certainty and security so let them know as far in advance as possible about half-term arrangements. This will help them adjust to the unexpected and, hopefully, present a scenario they can look forward to.
If you really can't reach agreement with your ex, mediation is a far less stressful, more cost-effective option than a return to court.
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A Four-step Formula To Reduce Half-term Friction, 14th February 2017, 18:55 PM