I write this at a time it is rumoured that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may be getting a divorce after 10 years together. They have six children and the speculation is that there could be a battle for custody of the children. You have to ask yourself what will be the impact on these children, given some of their backgrounds? The suggested reasons are that their careers are so intense that a great deal of pressure has been put on the relationship. The rumours have been strenuously denied and it is hard to say what 2016 will bring for them both. Whatever the outcome, the first question that comes to mind is how will the children fare if they should separate? Given their hectic careers and lifestyle, can they really be available physically and emotionally for the children? These questions get asked again and again by those going through or considering a divorce or separation. This is particularly important at this time of year when so many couples decide to separate after the holidays.
Apologies in advance if I sound like a grumpy old divorce lawyer. Children of divorced or separated parents normally want their parents to stay together even when they have remarried and have new lives. The post Christmas applications for legal advice on separating and divorce increases dramatically in January and this seems to add to the children’s desire for parents to stay together even more. I blame the Christmas TV movies and the advertising hype that starts as early as October. Parents may have held it together for Christmas and then break the news to their children that they are to separate when all the fuss has died down. Without doubt, even though the children may have suspected that things where shaky, they will still want to see their parents together and will often struggle emotionally with the arguments that follow. Children still believe in happy ever, after even if their parents have not stopped arguing since the announcement. Strangely enough this continues even after they have divorced!
For children who see their parents arguing, it can be not only upsetting but damaging to them in the long term. Children tend to spend their life copying the actions of the people they live with or are close to, even parents who argue. If they repeatedly see their parents arguing, they are likely to think that this is normal and could go on to repeat these actions in their future relationships. In effect what they learn is “this is how you behave in a relationship and then you get divorced!” Is it difficult to present a united front as parents for the sake of the children? If this were possible, then both parents would be able to be with their children, presenting a united front, not just for Christmas. Surely this would be the best possible Christmas present for most children. This would also be the best example to them of how to be and behave in a relationship whether it continues or ends?
The best way to survive telling children that you are getting divorced after the Christmas period is to have a plan. Explain to your ex-partner that you aren’t going to discuss any controversial matters related to the divorce. Put all the discussions about finances aside for those conversations with your family lawyer and out of sight or the ears of your children. The benefits long-term are incalculable and might just enable you both to maintain a reasonable relationship long-term that puts the needs of your children first, hard though it is learning to bite your tongue if your ex-partner makes any comments that you feel are aimed at you. Remember, it is about children, put there needs and desires first. At The Law House we can advise you on all aspects of family law including divorce and separation. For expert advice or more information please contact Venisha Shah on 020 8899 6620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org