‘What do I need to do about the children?’ This is a
question I am often asked by clients whilst I am dealing with their divorce and
financial arrangements on relationship breakdown.
several ways of answering that question in family law:
trite and unhelpful but often correct from a strict legal standpoint, where
there are no issues between the parents about how arrangements for the children
should be going forward. No formalities are necessary in those circumstances.
of the Children Act 1989 contains the ‘no order principle’. This says that,
the Court is considering whether or not to make one or more orders under this
Act with respect to a child, it shall not make the order … unless it considers
that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all.’
A more helpful answer than simply ‘nothing’, in all cases
where there are children and whether or not there are currently issues
concerning them, is perhaps something I often say to parents experiencing
relationship breakdown, where the children’s needs can become lost in the fray
or, sadly, the children are involved by the parents in their adult concerns:
Remember that, whilst your personal relationship has
broken down, you will forever be parents to your children. They need to know
that they are allowed to continue to love you both and that you will always be
there for them. At least, through this process and afterwards try to ensure
that you maintain or create a level of civilised communication with your fellow
parent so you can discuss your children’s needs as they arise.
Do you have a view? Should there be a requirement to
formalise arrangements for children in every case, whether or not there is a
All of us in the Cripps family law team are members of
Resolution, a membership of family lawyers and other professionals committed to
the constructive resolution of family disputes. Email or call us for help in
resolving any issues that may be arising for you on your relationship
breakdown. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
or direct line 01892 506249.
Resolution has many useful resources at www.resolution.org.uk. Included there
is access to an excellent publication to which I often refer clients: Separation and Divorce - Helping parents
to help children.
Sophie Barrett is an associate in the family law team of Cripps and you can view her profile here.