Divorce with children

Perhaps the most pressing of considerations when divorcing falls to parties with a family. Divorcing is one of the most emotionally charged events a person is likely to experience, but the parties divorcing must also remember how emotionally scarring it can be for the children involved. Therefore, the welfare of any children becomes an important factor.

Care and provision

Wherever possible, try involving your children in the decisions regarding their care and where they will spend their time, and ensure that you keep them informed of the situations you will face together. Their ideas and opinions are important.

It could help to discuss and try to agree on any arrangements for the children before filing for a divorce. Below is a checklist with some key information on what to discuss with your spouse regarding your children.

What to discuss regarding the children:
  • if they need to change school,
  • if their weekly activities will change,
  • who will take care of the children on a daily basis,
  • where they will reside,
  • how often they will visit the non-resident parent and
  • how to divide costs for school, clothes and social activities.

After a divorce, the usual procedure for safeguarding the welfare of the child/children is that exclusive custody will be granted or awarded to one parent, or this custody will be divided between the parents, with specific times and periods for sharing the parental responsibilities allocated to each parent. This is generally true, whether such arrangements are agreed upon between the two parties divorcing, or whether such arrangements are imposed by a court of law.

Child maintenance

Child maintenance, much like spouse maintenance, is an amount of money paid by one party to the other on a regular basis, which goes towards covering the everyday costs of caring and providing for any child of the family. This support is intended to be used towards a child’s housing, food and leisure interests amongst other things.

This support is typically paid by the non-resident parent to the resident parent, in other words from the parent who does not routinely live with the child to the parent who cares and provides for them on a daily basis. As their parent, it is important to remember that, depending on the circumstances of both parents after a divorce, child maintenance is a legal responsibility for both parents. As stated in The Children Act 1989, a divorce does not represent the end of providing financial support for your child.

Factors taken into consideration when working out child maintenance payments:
  • how many children the parties divorcing have together,
  • the age of both parties,
  • if any party receives benefits,
  • if the parties have jobs and, if so, their respective salaries,
  • children belonging legally to only one of the parties,
  • how often the children will stay with which parent and
  • if a party is studying or in a care home, hospital or prison.

ABCDivorce is glad to be able to help you in working out any potential child maintenance fees that may need to be paid or received by the parties divorcing. By providing you with a child maintenance calculator, you are able to determine whether you should pay or receive child support, as well as the estimated amount. We encourage you to use it not only to clarify any doubts and confusion regarding such matters, but also because the tool can help you agree on an amount without the need for legal aid.

Child arrangements order

In unfortunate cases where the parties divorcing are unable to agree on child arrangements, such as who will care for children of the family on a daily basis and who or how any provision will be provided, the court is likely to intervene in the best interests of the the children involved.

This intervention could come in the form of a child arrangements order, which affirms with whom a child of the family will live on a daily basis, and the contact they will have with the other parent. To avoid matters going to court, it may help to consider what the law says. Whilst nothing can physically force a parent to be involved in their child’s life, there are parental responsibility laws stating that parents are expected to fulfil certain roles.

The Children Act 1989 states that:
  • both parties have parental responsibility for the child if they were married when the child was born or, in certain circumstances, if they married thereafter;
  • any parent will have financial responsibility for the child until it reaches 16 years of age – or 18 if the child continues in full time education or training;
  • duty is placed on local authorities to intervene if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child’s needs are being neglected, to ensure their welfare.

Basically, this means that married parents have a right not only to contact with the child, but also to any decision making regarding aspects of the child’s life. Furthermore, a divorce does not bring an end to providing financial support, even if the party is not responsible for taking care of the child on a daily basis. Indeed, if it is suspected that a child is not receiving suitable care or provision, the law states that the relevant authority will deal with the issue as a matter of principle.