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Doing "what is right for the children"

(9 Posts)
GoldenOrb Thu 19-May-16 16:52:48

Except, how do you know what is right for the children?

We are in the process of separating. We have 3 children between 8 and 4. I work 2 days a week, and look after the children the majority of the time. H looks after them one day a week when I work a long day, so I see them in the morning before I go to work but don't get home until after they are in bed. His has a rolling rota so shifts are different each week, varying from working 2 days a week to weeks like this one where he will work 7 days (the kids go to after school club on the day I work a long day).

We can't agree on custody. He wants 50/50, and I don't agree with that at all. However, I am struggling to work out if I don't agree with it because I don't believe it is the best thing for our children, or because it is not the best thing for me.

How do you know what is best for them?

I don't believe that spending 3/4 nights a week away from me when I am currently there every night (or at least 6 if you count the one where I work until late, although I am there overnight), is the right thing for them. Personally I believe that they need to have a base with me, the person they are used to seeing every single day, where they feel secure and can thrive. H would argue that they should equal time with both parents and that is what is best for them, despite the fact it isn't what happens now, and would clearly be very difficult to manage given current job situations.

Because of their ages I don't think it is appropriate to ask them what they want, although I know their wishes will be taken into account when they are a bit older.

If we did have to split time more than I would like, I would be happier for them to spend more weekends with him (maybe 3 out of 4) rather than lots of change during the week because I want them to feel settled and in one place during the school week, but I know H doesn't agree with this.

How do we come to an agreement about what is right for our children?

serialangstyposter Fri 20-May-16 10:08:30

Bumping as I'm interested to read any thoughts posters have.

I'm in a similar position Golden. I'm a SAHM, one of my DC is still a toddler. So time without me will be a huge change.

I have however been trying to encourage DH that 50/50 could work. He thinks their primary home should be with me. I think long term it will be worth interrupting their routine so they have a meaningful relationship with both parents. It's not easy to know though.

I can't imagine either children being ok not seeing me 3 days in a row. They are already used to not seeing a lot of their Dad. It is really hard to judge whether the separation from me would be easier when they are a bit older - or will they have missed time with their father.

I get your concerns re shift work. If he us serious has he come up with a workable solution to splitting time?

whatyouseeiswhatyouget Fri 20-May-16 11:03:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Summerwalking16 Fri 20-May-16 13:49:32


PoundingTheStreets Fri 20-May-16 13:59:57

It all depends on what the current status is. 50/50 is a starting point when it comes to considering the post-separation arrangements. It is not the target or necessarily desirable in all cases.

Time and time again it has been shown that children do best post separation when the parents can maintain the status quo as much as possible. If child-caring responsibilities are more like 70/30 before the separation, it is usually best followed after the split as well. Again, research shows that it is the strength of the relationship between the child and the primary carer that has the most significant impact on the child's ability to adapt to change. Asking a child to cope with a change of house and lifestyle and then allowing them less opportunity to see the one person they would rely on most to get through that change is bonkers.

Sometimes, this can seem unfair to parents. If, for example, a dad works away a lot and is only involved 30% of the time, he can feel very hard-done-by when his contact is set at EOW only and he has to pay large sums of maintenance. In the same way, a mum who has the child 70% of the time may struggle to balance work/life against her child-rearing role and find she is left significantly worse off financially and with no social life.

However, it is about what is best for the child, not necessarily what is best for the parents.

It's also worth bearing in mind that whatever arrangement you agree on can be fluid. There is absolutely no reason why a 70/30 arrangement could not become a 50/50 arrangement with both parents willing and if it is practical. It just has to be an arrangement that's worked towards rather than imposed on a child.

Good luck OP.

serialangstyposter Sat 21-May-16 05:33:21

Just to say your post is really helpful Pounding.
It's not easy OP, hope you figure things.

GoldenOrb Thu 26-May-16 13:15:00

Sorry for such a delay in responding.

serial I find it such a struggle to work out what is for the best. I do want them to have a good relationship with their dad but he has already missed a whole heap of time with them, and as much as I want them to build their relationship with him that shouldn't be to their detriment in feeling insecure at having less time with me. Why do you think that 50/50 would work best for you?

Pounding your post was really helpful, thank you so much. A slightly stupid question but do you have any evidence/research that backs up what you have said? Not that I doubt it, but it would be really helpful to me to be able to present him with evidence, because everything you have said backs my wishes that they spend more time with me because that is what they are used to and because I don't think a huge upheaval and changes to how much they see me is the right thing for them. Especially when the youngest is still only 4.

PoundingTheStreets Fri 27-May-16 11:25:46

Golden - it's all based on the Children Act 1989, which sets out welfare considerations.

Basically the courts/CAFCASS consider the following when deciding on child arrangement orders (previously known as residency orders or in popular parlance as 'custody'):
• Each applicant's connection with the child;
• The risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child's life to such an extent that they should be harmed by it.
• The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of age and understanding);
• The child's physical, emotional and/or educational needs;
• The likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances;
• Child's age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant;
• Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
• How capable each of the parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child's needs;

Thus, assuming the child was happy and well-caed-for prior to the split, the least harm is done to child by maintaining the ratio of time that child spends with each parent. However, assuming that there is no valid reason why the non-primary carer could not have more contact, if that non-primary carer wants more contact it is often considered in the child's best interests to move towards a more 50/50 split ultimately. Basically because the more adults a child has heavily invested in their wellbeing, the better off that child will be. However, if the main carer has, up until the point of separation, been responsible for the child 90% of the time, it stands to reason that 50/50 contact is going to equate to a major disruption in that child's life and thus has to be worked towards rather than immediately imposed.

The Children Act 1989 is available online and if you poke around the CAFCASS website, you'll find some literature as well.

GoldenOrb Fri 27-May-16 13:40:18

That's brilliant pounding, thanks very much

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