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Put Children First

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Put Children First

Each year around 240,000 children in the UK experience the separation of their parents. More than one in three children will see their parents split up before they reach their 16th birthday.

When parents split up, children can often believe they are responsible. Their sense of guilt will be made worse when they are exposed to their parents’ arguments and conflict. From a child’s perspective, if you are having a row about them, they will understandably feel they are to blame.

Minimise conflict whenever possible and let your children know that the divorce or separation is not their fault. Understand that your children may need to be told this more than once as they may well not to believe you the first time they are told. They need to know that they cannot fix or change what has happened in the family let them know that it is not their responsibility to try and make things better between you both.

Let your children know they can ask questions and talk about how they feel. Reassure them that it is okay to ask questions or talk to either parent.  Explain that you know this will be a difficult time for them and they may at times have very mixed and different feelings.

If you are asked questions you cannot, or are not prepared to answer, let your children know and reassure them that when you have an answer, they will be the first to know.

While you may not like or have any respect for your ex, you should talk to them respectfully as the parent of your children. Avoid making it personal. Use restraint and avoid reacting when angry. Try not to act on your immediate reaction. Give yourself time to think things over.

As many as 90% of children are in the same room or in the next room when domestic abuse occurs. Parents may hang on to the hope that the behaviour of the abusing parent will eventually change and therefore work to keep the peace instead of protecting themselves and their children. When this happens, the non-offending parent places both themselves and their children at enormous risk. Even when things improve for a time, significant change can only occur if the offending parent has acknowledged the problem and is actively seeking professional help. If you are a non-offending parent, you need to be relentless in advocating the safety of your child or children. In many cases, this means getting the protection of the legal system.

Children have the right to:

• be at the centre of any decisions made about their lives

• feel and be loved and cared for by both parents

• know and have contact with both sides of their families, including any siblings who may not live with them, as long as they are safe

• a childhood, including freedom from the pressures of adult concerns, such as financial worries

• financial support and protection from poverty

• support and encouragement in all aspects of their lives, including their education, as well as their physical and mental well-being

• form and express their own views on any matter affecting them

• be kept informed about matters in an age-appropriate manner

• privacy and respect for their feelings, including the way they feel about each of their parents

• protection from information and material, including that found online, which may be harmful to them

• protection from harm, and from adults who might do them harm

FREE initial appointments are available on request at all of our offices in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare. Clevedon, Yatton and Wedmore or call in at one of our offices for a FREE information pack.

For more information speak to FIONA GRIFFIN of John Hodge Solicitors by calling 01934 425999 (email fiona.griffin@johnhodge.co.uk).

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