Three Things To Decide When Divorcing With Children

As parents, your primary concern when getting divorced is your kids. You desperately want them to be okay. That's completely understandable. I've not met a parent who hasn't worried about their children's emotional welfare when they were getting divorced. Hypnotherapist Susan Leigh blogged about supporting children emotionally through a divorce here.

But what about your worries and concerns? On top of the anxieties you have for your kids’ mental health, you are probably also worried about the practicalities involved. Where will they live and who with? This is especially true if you have perhaps put your career on hold to look after the children. You do not need to go to court to make these decisions. These are choices you and your spouse can make together. If you work together, you are making the whole divorce process a little easier for the children.

What decisions will we have to make?

Three main things will need to be agreed:

  • Where they will live
  • Who they will live with
  • What financial support they will have

It is in the interest of the children if these arrangements can be organised without too much stress. This period of transition needs to be as calm as possible for them.

Who gets the family home?

There are no rules to dictate who gets to remain in the family home. Each couple must consider their circumstances and decide whether it is financially viable to stay in the family home.

Staying in the family home needs to be affordable, and many people find that selling the family home is the best option. Going through a divorce requires adjusting to many different changes as well as coping with the emotional stress of both your children and yourself. Taking on a mortgage that may be unaffordable will add to what is already a stressful time.

It is possible to apply for a Mesher Order or an 'order for deferred sale'. Doing this allows the family home to remain in the couple's joint name until a specific trigger event happens. Trigger events can include:

  • The youngest child of the marriage reaching 18
  • The remarriage of the occupying party
  • The death of the occupying party

When this trigger event happens, the property is sold, and the proceeds are divided.

There are both pros and cons to Mesher Orders. If you want to find out more, please do contact me.

How will the care of our children be shared?

Married parents both have parental responsibility, and therefore both have equal rights to see their children. Shared care arrangements tend to be agreed between parents and suit both their needs and the children's needs. Things you should consider when making these arrangements are:

  • Holidays especially when going abroad
  • Weekends and school holidays
  • Christmas and other 'special' events

Remember, what works for one family doesn't necessarily work for another. You may want to alternate weeks, or you may want to split the week in half. When deciding, take into account work commitments and also any extracurricular activities your children may attend.

If you can't agree on living arrangements for any reason, you should consider family mediation to help you come to an agreement. If that is unsuccessful, the next step would be to ask solicitors to help. Finally, as a last resort, you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order. However, this is not a recommended route. You really should try and keep out of the courts.

How will I take care of my child financially?

Besides the division of family assets, the parent with the highest income can and should pay child maintenance to the other parent.

How much is received each month should ideally be decided between both parents. This payment is made until the child turns 19 or finishes secondary education (whichever comes last). You can also agree to continue payments for longer, perhaps to support the child through higher education.

Whatever amount agreed should be included in the consent order – a legal document that confirms your agreement. With this in place, the agreed rate will remain unchanged.

Again, if you can't agree on a figure, I recommend that you consider family mediation. It is a faster and more cost-effective method than going to court.

Putting the children first

Throughout all of this, you have to remember that your children have the right to maintain the same connection to each parent that they enjoyed before the divorce. They don't and shouldn't want to take sides. Having an amicable divorce makes an extremely stressful event a little easier to deal with, and that is why there are people out there who can help you achieve an agreement that works for all of you.

I'm Tamsin, and I'm a financial planner specialising in divorce. I can help you work out maintenance costs and what future expenses you should be planning for.

As well as sorting out your finances, I also work with a great network of people who can help you with different aspects of the divorce process. You don't have to do this alone.

To find out more about how I can help, book a free call with me here. 

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