Misconceptions of Assisted Conception

The complicated story of assisted conception has taken another turn in the American court case of actress and model Sofia Vergara. She is now is being sued by her own fertilised eggs in a right-to-live lawsuit in Louisiana, which case has been brought by her ex-fiancé Nick Loeb. According to court papers, the “embryos” were conceived via IVF treatment but the couple split up and they were never allowed to further develop or implanted. Mr Loeb’s solicitor say the embryos, who are apparently called Emma and Isabella, are “suspended in a frozen stasis of suspended animation” as Ms Vergara has refused to agree to their continued development. Ms Vergara who is now married to actor Joe Manganiello, does not want to have children with ex boyfriend Loeb and denies they are embryos, saying they are instead frozen fertilized ova. Her solicitor has suggested that if Mr Loeb really wants a family he “should hire a surrogate and an egg donor and create one without dragging Vergara through another unnecessary legal battle.”

This case may possibly turn out to mirror a decision (although not the facts) of the English courts a number of years ago in the case of Natalie Evans, which then went to the European Court of Human Rights in 2007. Ms Evans was not permitted to use her own fertilised eggs following IVF treatment as the eggs had been fertilised by her ex-partner who withdrew his consent after they separated. Ms Evans became infertile as a result of chemotherapy and her very last attempt to have her own biological children was ultimately denied.

This really is a very complicated area of law and for anyone thinking of using a surrogate, please get in touch or come and see us and get legal advice first. Issues of consent are always going to crop up and there exists a common misconception that consent at the start of a surrogacy arrangement is consent throughout. Regrettably that is not the case.

Festive Contact Arrangements

This blog has been based on a previous blog we posted a couple of years ago. We had so many people commenting on it and messaging us letting us know they found it incredibly useful that we are effectively posting it again. As its now only 6 sleeps until Santa comes and work is coming to an end for a good few days R’n’R, our thoughts turn to friends, family, fizz and fun (and the never ending chores that come with hosting Christmas dinner for loved ones including prepping endless mountains of veg and decorating the living room that you’ve been meaning to get round to for about 2 years but it is simply essential it’s done in the 2 week run up to 25th December!) Christmas is usually a time for family, especially children, and it would be great to chill out with a movie and wine and chocolate and stay in jammies all day! But, for separated families, it can be a time of increased pressure and unhappiness for both parents and children. You may find it incredibly hard to be away from your children for even a few hours on Christmas day but here are some helpful hints and pointers (from the centre for separated families) which may help make the day, and the rest of the holidays, a little easier for everyone. Maybe not for all, but fingers crossed.

 

If your children will spend time with both of you

Try to agree, as early as possible, how your children will spend time with each of you. It isn’t important that they spend exactly the same amount of time with you both. What’s important is that the time is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible. Think about how it may be possible for your children to spend some quality time with both of you that allows everyone to get something of what they would like.

 

Make any hand-over as easy as possible

If your children will be spending time in two places, make sure that the transition is as simple as possible. The last thing your children want is to see their mum and dad arguing. Agree when, where and how your children will move between you. Stick to your agreement and contact each other if there needs to be any changes. If seeing each other is too difficult, think about people who may be able to help at hand-over such as grandparents or friends.

 

When time with both of you isn’t possible

If it is not possible for your children to spend time with both of you on the day, try to think about ways that you can share the celebration with your children at another time and make that as special as possible. A phone call on, or a special letter for the day can help children feel connected and reduce any anxiety. If your children’s other parent doesn’t seem interested, might it be possible to encourage them just to send a card?

 

Don’t compete over presents

Some separated parents find it possible to share present buying and giving. However, for many, this isn’t realistic. If you are buying presents separately, try to agree who will buy what. It can be very difficult if one parent has more money than the other. So try not to compete over who will buy the biggest or the best present – it just isn’t in your children’s best interests.

 

Think about extended family

Try to make time for grandparents, aunts and uncles if your children are used to seeing them at Christmas. If it is too difficult to spend time with them, then a phone call will help everyone stay in touch.

 

Think about new partners and other children

If there is a new partner in your life, think about how that will affect your arrangements. How will your children feel about that? How will your new partner feel about it? How will you children’s other parent feel about it? What about step-siblings and half-siblings? Try to find a way forward that means that as little friction as possible. But be honest about what you want, too.

 

Don’t require your children to make the decisions

It is important that children, especially younger ones, are not required to make decisions on your behalf. Talk to all the adults involved, talk to your children if they are old enough, decide what is best and then tell your children what has been decided.

 

When you are unable to see or contact your children

Being prevented from seeing or contacting your children, for whatever reason, is usually a very painful experience. Times of celebration can be especially difficult. Many parents in this position find their own way of marking the occasion. It can be helpful to try and make contact with other parents in a similar position as a way of offering and receiving support. If you are unable to buy your child a present or show them that you are thinking about them, you may wish to consider buying a different kind of gift. For example, you can name a star, adopt an animal, plant a tree or make a donation to a charity on their behalf.

 

Look after yourself

Christmas for separated families can be an emotionally difficult time. Not only for children, but for parents as well. This may be your first Christmas without your children or without your husband, wife or partner. Take some time to think about how you might feel and then think about ways of coping. If old traditions are too painful, create some new ones. If you won’t have chance to see your children, write a letter and raise a toast to them. If you are going to be on your own, with or without your children, think about whether you might spend some time with friends or relatives.

 

So hopefully some of this advice will be useful. No matter what, have as nice a day as possible. Get stuck into the big box of Quality Street (it’s Christmas so chocolate is allowed as soon as you open your eyes!), have some fizz (did I mention that?!) followed by a wee snooze before the last ever Downtown Abbey! And from all of us at MTM Family Law, Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016.

 

Please note our offices are closed from 2pm on Friday 23rd December 2016, until 9am on Wednesday 4th January 2017. If you require urgent family law advice during this time then please email us on general@mtmfamilylaw.co.uk.

Great Expectations? (What the Family Court Expects from Parents

Great Expectations? (What the Family Court Expects from Parents)

Glasgow Sheriff Court previously issued guidelines for parents who are involved in Court proceedings in relation to their child or children.  The guidelines apply to all the children and all parents and carers, without exception.  We discuss the content of the guidelines with clients and we forward this information to parents and carers whose children are the subject of Court proceedings. The guidelines serve as a useful reminder to clients to try and encourage resolution of child related matters with the other parent, rather than asking the Court to regulate things.  Obviously, this is not possible in all cases but these guidelines are a reminder of how, where possible, parents should co-operate in relation to arrangements for their children. Please feel free to print and share.

These guidelines apply to all children and all parents & carers. Please do not think that your case is an exception

.

The Court wants you to think about these things:

● As parents, you share responsibility for your child.  You have a duty to talk to each other and make very effort to agree about how you will bring your child up.

● Even when you separate, this duty continues.

● Try to agree the arrangements for your child.  If talking to each other is difficult, ask for help. Trained mediators can help you to talk to each other and find solutions even when things are hard. Local services include: Relationship Scotland – Family Mediation West (

www.fmwest.org.uk) and CALM Scotland (www.calmscotland.co.uk)  (You can also get assistance from The Spark (http://www.thespark.org.uk)

  • If you cannot agree, you can ask the Court to decide for you. The law says that the Court must always put the welfare of the child first. What you want may not be the best thing for the child. The Court has to put the child first however hard this is for the adults.

 

● Experience suggests that agreements between you as parents work better than Court imposed orders.

The Court therefore expects you to do what is best for your child:

● Encourage your child to have a good relationship with both of you.

● Try to have a good enough relationship with each other as parents even though you are no longer together as a couple.

● Arrange for your child to spend time with each of you.

Remember that the Court expects you to do what is best for your child even when you find that difficult:

● It is the law that a child has a right to regular personal contact with parents unless there is a very good reason to the contrary. Denial of contact is very unusual and in most cases contact will be frequent and substantial.

  • A Court may deny contact if it is satisfied that your or your child’s safety is at risk.

 

  • Sometimes a parent stops contact because he or she feels that he or she is not getting enough money from the other parent to look after the child.  This is not a reason to stop contact.

 

Your Child needs to:

  • Understand what is happening to their family. It is your job to explain.

 

  • Have a loving open relationship with both parents. It is your job to encourage this. You may be separated from each other but your child needs to know that he or she is not being separated from either of you.

 

  • Show love, affection and respect for both parents.

 

Your child should not be made to:

● Blame himself or herself for the breakup.

● Hear you criticize the other parent or anyone else involved.

● Turn against the other parent because they think that is what you want.

You can help your child:

● Think about how he or she feels about the breakup.

● Listen to what your child has to say about how he or she is feeling, and about what he or she thinks of any arrangements that have to be made.

● Try to agree arrangements for your child with other people.

● Talk to the other parent openly, honestly and respectfully

  • Explain your point of view to the other parent so that you do not misunderstand one another.

 

● Draw up a plan as to how you will share responsibility for your child.

● When you have different ideas from other parent, do not talk about it when your child is with you. Do not publicise your disagreement or make derogatory comments on any social media sites where the child might access them or hear about them from others

If you want to change agreed arrangements such as where the child lives or goes to school:

● Make sure the other parent agrees. If you cannot agree, go to mediation; if you still cannot agree, apply to the Court

If  there is a Court Order in place, you must do what the Court Order says even if you

don’t agree with that. If you want to do something different, you have to apply to the

Court to have the Court Order varied.

So, some helpful home truths from Glasgow Sheriff Court. If you need any help or guidance, or further explanation as to the effect these guidelines may have on you then please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Henderson on 0141 611 7535 or visit us at www.mtmfamilylaw.co.uk.  Please feel free to share this information.

A Guide for Separated Parents at Christmas

With 10 sleeps until Santa comes (as I was so excitedly told by my boss when I arrived in the office this morning!) our thoughts turn to friends, family, fizz, gifts, fizz, selection boxes, presents and of course, fizz! Christmas is usually a time for family, especially children. But, for separated families, it can be a time of increased pressure and unhappiness. You may find it incredibly hard to be away from your children for even a few hours on Christmas day but here are some helpful hints and pointers (from the centre for separated families) which may help make the day, and the rest of the holidays, a little easier for everyone. Maybe not for all, but fingers crossed.

If your children will spend time with both of you
Try to agree, as early as possible, how your children will spend time with each of you. It isn’t important that they spend exactly the same amount of time with you both. What’s important is that the time is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible. Think about how it may be possible for your children to spend some quality time with both of you that allows everyone to get something of what they would like.

Make any hand-over as easy as possible
If your children will be spending time in two places, make sure that the transition is as simple as possible. The last thing your children want is to see their mum and dad arguing. Agree when, where and how your children will move between you. Stick to your agreement and contact each other if there needs to be any changes. If seeing each other is too difficult, think about people who may be able to help at hand-over such as grandparents or friends.

When time with both of you isn’t possible
If it is not possible for your children to spend time with both of you on the day, try to think about ways that you can share the celebration with your children at another time and make that as special as possible. A phone call on, or a special letter for the day can help children feel connected and reduce any anxiety. If your children’s other parent doesn’t seem interested, might it be possible to encourage them just to send a card?

Don’t compete over presents
Some separated parents find it possible to share present buying and giving. However, for many, this isn’t realistic. If you are buying presents separately, try to agree who will buy what. It can be very difficult if one parent has more money than the other. So try not to compete over who will buy the biggest or the best present – it just isn’t in your children’s best interests.

Think about extended family
Try to make time for grandparents, aunts and uncles if your children are used to seeing them at Christmas. If it is too difficult to spend time with them, then a phone call will help everyone stay in touch.

Think about new partners and other children
If there is a new partner in your life, think about how that will affect your arrangements. How will your children feel about that? How will your new partner feel about it? How will you children’s other parent feel about it? What about step-siblings and half-siblings? Try to find a way forward that means that as little friction as possible. But be honest about what you want, too.

Don’t require your children to make the decisions
It is important that children, especially younger ones, are not required to make decisions on your behalf. Talk to all the adults involved, talk to your children if they are old enough, decide what is best and then tell your children what has been decided.

When you are unable to see or contact your children
Being prevented from seeing or contacting your children, for whatever reason, is usually a very painful experience. Times of celebration can be especially difficult. Many parents in this position find their own way of marking the occasion. It can be helpful to try and make contact with other parents in a similar position as a way of offering and receiving support. If you are unable to buy your child a present or show them that you are thinking about them, you may wish to consider buying a different kind of gift. For example, you can name a star, adopt an animal, plant a tree or make a donation to a charity on their behalf.

Look after yourself
Christmas for separated families can be an emotionally difficult time. Not only for children, but for parents as well. This may be your first Christmas without your children or without your husband, wife or partner. Take some time to think about how you might feel and then think about ways of coping. If old traditions are too painful, create some new ones. If you won’t have chance to see your children, write a letter and raise a toast to them. If you are going to be on your own, with or without your children, think about whether you might spend some time with friends or relatives.

So hopefully some of this advice will be useful. No matter what, have as nice a day as possible. Get stuck into the big box of Quality Street (it’s Christmas so chocolate is allowed as soon as you open your eyes!), have some fizz (did I mention that?!) followed by a wee snooze before the last ever Downtown Abbey! And from all of us at MTM Family Law, Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016.

Please note our offices are closed from 12 noon on Thursday 24th December 2015, until 9am on Tuesday 5th January 2016. If you require urgent family law advice during this time then please email us on general@mtmfamilylaw.co.uk.

Parenting Apart

Parenting Apart

 

A new free service that helps parents put kids first and cope with problems after separation is now available around Scotland from August 2015.

 

More than one in three children are now likely to experience their parents getting divorced or separating before they turn 16. The charity Relationships Scotland has launched “Parenting Apart” support sessions for couples that are splitting up, already living apart or those getting divorced. So now, for the first time ever in Scotland, parents can go along to free support sessions, wherever they live and whether they are going through the legal system or not. Most of the problems that couples go through when they separate are emotional or about their children. Relationships Scotland says parents can move forward without kids getting stuck in the middle.

 

The charity is working with the Scottish Government to provide Scottish families with the same opportunities as parents have in England and Wales. In Scotland the support for separated parents is on a voluntary basis rather than as part of the legal system.

 

Parenting Apart was piloted in South Lanarkshire for the last 6 years. The project has already helped over 40 couples tackle problems head on like dealing with conflict, finances, making joint decisions and how to communicate with kids after separation. Thanks to new funding of £200,000 from the Scottish Government this service is now being rolled out across Scotland.

 

Bernadette Lynass, Development Worker at Relationships Scotland said, “It can be hard when you are emotionally tied up in the situation. How do you talk to the kids about your partner? If people are feeling frustrated with each other that often spills over. Parenting Apart is a strong foundation for getting through these problems.”

 

Sessions are for groups of mums and dads and can also be available on a one to one basis in some areas. The facilitators who lead the sessions are experienced family support professionals. Sessions last for 3 hours. To find out more go to http://www.relationships-scotland.org.uk/family-support/parenting-apart-groups

 

Also, if you want to talk about your parenting relationship either when living together or post separation, or you need family counselling, you can try talking to The Spark, the relationship experts. To find out more go to http://www.thespark.org.uk.

Pensions Keeping Healthy

 

Pensions – Keeping Healthy Through Active Service

 

As many of you who have been through the process of separation and/or divorce will know, pensions get taken into account when quantifying the net matrimonial property to be divided. The law provides that there should be a “fair share” of the net matrimonial property, and this is presumed to be an equal share, unless there are any specific legal reasons why it should not be.  So when we are advising clients as to what constitutes a fair share of the net matrimonial property, we require to firstly ascertain what the net matrimonial property actually consists of.

 

Pensions can be particularly valuable in the context of a separation and/or divorce, and it is the “Cash Equivalent Transfer Value” (CETV) which is looked at to determine a capital value for the purposes of a separation.

 

Only the proportion of rights referable to the period of the marriage will fall into the matrimonial pot and there is a specific apportionment which can be carried out to ensure that not the entire value of the pension is taken into account, only the marital portion.

 

Until August 2015, to work out what the CETV would be, solicitors were directed to look at what the current Cash Equivalent Transfer Value was, then work out the days between the date of marriage and date of separation, and apportion that by the number in days of membership of the pension scheme. It was the words “period of the membership” of a party in the pension arrangement before the “relevant date” which has been the subject of recent case law.  From many years this has caused some difference of opinion as solicitors have argued over whether this “period of membership” has meant active membership or any other type of membership for example deferred or pensioner membership.  A majority decision handed down from a Court of Session appeal on 11th August 2015 has now upheld that the “period of membership” in the pension scheme should only be the period of active membership, and not any other type of membership; the period that somebody is a deferred member or a pensioner member is now disregarded when working out the capital value of a pension for divorce purposes.

 

This will have far reaching consequences for some members who have been a member of a pension scheme for some time, but only a short period of that time was during active service.  Thomas McDonald whose favourable decision was appealed against by his wife Anne is no doubt delighted. In his particular case, he joined the pension scheme in December 1978.  He married Mrs McDonald in March 1985, and left active service and ceased contributing towards that particular pension only five months later.  A CETV using an active period of membership i.e. five months, resulted in a capital pension value of £10,002 having to be taken into account.  Mrs McDonald submitted the entire membership of the pension should be taken into account which would have meant a figure of £138,734 going into the matrimonial pot to be divided. As you can see, this is quite a difference!

 

If you have a pension which you think needs to be taken into account in quantifying matrimonial property, get in touch with us. We know the appropriate calculations to be carried out and notwithstanding this particular Court of Session case,  you may find that there are some “special circumstances” which could justify a departure from a fifty/fifty split in any event keeping your pension as healthy as possible for your retirement.

 

Holidays are Coming!

Holidays are Coming!

With summer rapidly approaching and holidays on the horizon, if you haven’t yet got a passport for your child, then get your skates on! I have just received a renewal passport for my daughter, and head off to sunnier climes in 38 days time (not that I’m counting!). I actually used the Government’s online passport service, completed the information and paid the fee, then printed off the form and sent it with a counter signed photograph to the Passport Office. Eight days later the new passport arrived! However, please allow as much time as possible as it is likely the Passport Office will get busier, the closer we get to the school summer holidays!

So, who is able to sign the child’s first passport or renewal passport application? Such applications require to be completed by a person with parental responsibility in relation to the child. The law in Scotland (which differs from the law in England and Wales) provides that the mother of a child can sign the passport application. Who the “mother” is may seem obvious, but it is the woman who gave birth to the child. This can cause a few difficulties in surrogacy situations, but the woman who gives birth to the child is the mother of the child for all legal purposes (until such time as that is changed, either by a parental order or by adoption).

The rules regarding fathers are slightly different, and the rules also depend on when the child was born and his or her birth registration. The important date is 4th May 2006, as this is the date that the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 provisions came into force.

For children born in Scotland, whose births were registered before 4th May 2006, if the child’s parents were married to each other then both parents have equal parental rights and responsibilities and either can sign. If the child’s parents were not married at the time the birth was registered, but have subsequently married, then both mother and father can sign the passport application. Even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, but the child’s parents were not and have never been married to each other, the father in these circumstances is generally unable to sign.

For children born and whose births are registered after 4th May 2006, an unmarried dad can acquire parental rights and responsibilities if he is named on the birth certificate and both parents jointly register the birth, meaning either can apply for a passport. If the child’s parents are married to each other, then both parents have equal rights and responsibilities at the time of birth and subsequently (unless removed by order of the court), therefore either parent can complete the passport application.

Parental rights and responsibilities can also be acquired by the mother completing a Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights Agreement in terms of section 4 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (or in some same sex situations a section 4A Agreement can be completed), or if the court has made an order granting the other party parental rights and responsibilities.

In some situations the court may also grant orders for parental rights and responsibilities to persons other than parents for example grandparents, step- parents, aunts and uncles. Even though a court may make an order of contact between a child and a parent, if that is the only order made, this does not entitle the parent exercising contact to complete a passport application. If the unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate and doesn’t fall into a category detailed above he cannot apply for a passport.

If there is any doubt as to who can complete the application or who has parental rights and responsibilities entitling them to complete the application then full advice can be found on the Government website www.gov.scot . Alternatively, give us a call and we would be happy to help!

Scotland’s New Adoption Register

Last week, the Scottish Government  launched a new and improved website for adoptions in Scotland, the website being run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) Scotland. This new website for Scotland’s Adoption  Register aims to improve the number of successful matches between children and prospective adopters, and will involve prospective adopters and social workers more directly in the process of finding families for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.

The adoption process in Scotland is well known to be lengthy, and at times frustrating, and there are families out there looking for children who they can raise and love as their own. These children to need to find secure, stable and loving homes and it is hoped that the re-launch of the website, and its innovations, will help speed up the matching process to find suitable families for all the children who need them.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 has placed Scotland’s Adoption Register on a national footing. This means every adoption agency in Scotland must use the Register, and must refer both children and approve adopters within a  time scale to be specified in the regulations to follow.

At MTM Family Law, we can assist in advising you on the adoption process. Quite often, we receive instructions in relation to step-parent adoptions too. If we can assist you in any way please just get in touch.

 

Out with the Old and in with the New!

Next week sees the coming into force of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.  On 16th December 2014 same sex couples will be allowed to marry in Scotland for the first time.  Given the formalities which require to take place before a marriage ceremony can be conducted, the first same-sex marriages will not take place until 31st December 2014.  This will indeed be a happy new year for some!

People in same-sex relationships will now be able to decide if they wish to cohabit, enter into a civil partnership, or enter into marriage.  I am sure it will not be long until some opposite sex couples decide they wish to enter into a  civil partnership! I am for equality, absolutely 100%, but time will tell if the institution of “civil partnership” will stand the test of time, if it will evolve to include heterosexual couples, or if it will be effectively phased out over many years to come.

If you are already in a civil partnership, this civil partnership can effectively be converted into a marriage. It can also be backdated to the date of the civil partnership, either by having a marriage ceremony if you so desire, or simply meeting with the registrar in the appropriate registration district.  This seems a very straight forward and sensible approach if civil partners, previously denied the right to marriage, wish to have the same legal rights and “status” as opposite sex couples.

Congratulations to the new Mr and Mr, and Mrs and Mrs of 2015!

 

CO-PARENTING RULES FOR SEPARATED OR DIVORCED PARENTS

Whilst people may become ex-spouses or ex-partners when they separate, they do not become ex-parents. They need to try to become co-parents and get along better than when they were married or when they  lived together.
As parents you share responsibility for your child. You have a duty to talk to each other and make every effort to agree about how you will bring your child up. Even when you separate, this duty continues. You need each other to parent effectively. Co-operation, however difficult, is essential.

Here are some rules to remember:-

1.    Never say negative things about the other parent to the children or in front of the children.

2.    Never let your family, friends or others say negative things about the other parent to the children, or in front of the children. Be alert to the fact that children are sometimes listening to you on the phone and you may not be aware of that.

3.    Do not speak to each other in inflammatory ways either in person, by telephone or by text, and do not “wind” each other up deliberately. Provoking the other parent isn’t helpful. Again, children can be listening even if you’re not aware of this.  It can be useful to imagine your children in the room when you require to communicate with your ex. Some people have said that they have found it helpful to visualise their child’s face in front of them or visualise the child in the room.

4.    Exchange pleasantries in front of the children, no matter how difficult this may be for you, particularly at contact pick up and return times. It can help assure children that it is OK to spend time with both parents and to chat to either parent without upsetting the other.

5.    Never discuss disagreements or conflicts in front of the children.

6.    Agree a strategy or process for constructively discussing any issues which arise.

7.    Improve communication It is in the best interests of the children that you, as parents, can communicate effectively together.  Some suggestions are to set agreed times for communicating with each other, by telephone or in person, and avoid telephoning, texting, emailing etc at other times (unless there is an emergency or a real and genuine issue which requires to be dealt with immediately).  If you are going to meet up to discuss matters, try choosing a neutral venue, without the children being present. Or if that’s not possible, perhaps the parent who has the children during the agreed communication time could initiate the call. If you agree a time, stick to it – although please be mindful that events outwith your former partners control CAN happen! Answering machines, mobile phones, texting and voicemail may be helpful in communicating essential information.  Don’t message constantly though strike a balance.

8.    Share important information (such as medical information and school events) and agree common rules for bedtime, TV, discipline etc for your children. Online calendars to which both parents have access and can enter date and event information can help coordinate the arrangements for the children, and ensure there is less scope for confusion about who should be where and at what time. This can cut down on stress and ensure each party knows when they are shouldering the responsibility of the football run, swimming, gymnastics, parties etc.

9.    Attend events for your children together when possible. You do not have to be best friends, but your child will benefit from seeing his/her parents together behaving civilly to one another.

10.    Respect the other parent’s parenting style, even if this differs from you own.  Accept that if the other parent does things differently from you, this may not be exactly how you would like it done but it may just be “good enough”. Although one parent’s parenting style may be different, both parents should still agree common rules for bedtime, discipline etc as above.

11.    Make your children’s needs more important than your needs (for example, be flexible so as not to interfere with children’s school and social activities) and be willing to give up some of “your” time to make these things happen.

12.    Help your child understand Your child needs to understand what is happening to their family. It is your job as mum or dad to explain. Your child should not be made to blame himself or herself for the breakup. Don’t help your child turn against the other parent because they think that is what you want. You can help your child think about how he or she feels about the breakup. Listen to what your child has to say about how he or she is feeling, and about what he or she thinks of any arrangements that have to be made. Involve your child if they are old enough, but don’t place the burden of decision making on them – that is your job to decide with the other parent.

13.    Respect the other parent’s time with your children. Part of this is to always be on time and five minutes early if possible.  Never leave children on the doorstep.

14.    Any changes in the schedule must be discussed with the other parent first before informing the children.

15.    Do not place children in loyalty conflicts.

16.    Do not quote what children may have said to or about another parent.

17.    Do not accept what children say about the other parent as accurate without checking with the other parent.

18.    Do not let solicitors and courts make decisions about your children that you should make as parents.

19.    Take responsibility for following these rules even if the other parent does not.

20.    Move Forward. Leave the past behind.