Where They Live
When you live together your children are there all the time. When you separate then the children will usually spend time with both of their parents. This means that sometimes your children will not be with you which is really hard for your children, for you and also for the other parent.
Sometimes when the children are there all the time it is taken for granted that they will always be there, for example, one parent works long hours. It is not unusual for a parent who was distracted before separation to be more focused and involved with their children after separation.
Custody issues are therefore highly emotional and difficult for everyone involved. After separation, when the hurt is raw, one parent may try to ‘punish’ the other parent by restricting or stopping that parent seeing the children. Sadly this hurts the children who usually want a relationship with both of their parents. The children find it hard to be told all the negatives about their other parent because they interpret this to mean that 50% of them is not loved as they are half of that parent.
The needs of the children have to come first. If the court needs to make the decision on custody the ‘welfare checklist’ is used:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of his/her age and understanding);
- His/her physical, emotional and educational needs;
- The likely effect of any change in his/her custody circumstances;
- His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of him/her which the court considers relevant;
- Any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- How capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs;
- The range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.
Both parents will want the children to live with them. Talking through the children’s daily needs and how both parents can meet them, perhaps in mediation or with a therapist, will help. It is the children’s needs that come first.