parenting

What do I do if I have been in an abusive relationship?

What is domestic abuse?

The government definition of domestic abuse is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can include, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.”

Jargon Buster

Whatever route you choose to take to address your co-parenting issues you may come across ‘legal jargon’ which can appear unfamiliar and confusing. Set out below are some of the key definitions to help you along your way.

What is the legal position?

You may reach a point in your co-parenting journey whereby you need to give consideration to your legal position as a parent and what steps you need to take.

We can’t agree and need help

Even though you have decided to separate, you are still both parents. Children can cope well through a separation if their parents manage it well and find ways to reduce conflict and maintain good quality access to the family.

The future and changes that might happen along the way

Most families experience changes and events along the parenting journey that may pose challenges and, sometimes, difficulties. While some of these changes may happen soon after separation, on other occasions such events only arise some years after separation or divorce.

What are the types of dispute that might arise between separating parents?

In many families, children enjoy a valuable and close relationship with extended members of their family including Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. These close and special relationships can be invaluable in helping your children cope with the trauma of not only your separation but they may also form an integral part of your child’s support system, something that you should hopefully wish to maintain.

Extended Family

In many families, children enjoy a valuable and close relationship with extended members of their family including Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. These close and special relationships can be invaluable in helping your children cope with the trauma of not only your separation but they may also form an integral part of your child’s support system, something that you should hopefully wish to maintain.

How important is the voice of the child

One of the hardest things to navigate is knowing when it is appropriate to bring your child’s voice into decision making and when to keep them secure by making decisions as their parents.

Your New Co-Parenting Role

Once you decide to separate, along with the many decisions you will both be making, there will be a big change in your parenting role.
You are becoming Co-parents.

Sharing our Stories

Two members of the Parenting After Parting Committee share their stories.

We are privileged to introduce this guide for parents who are separating. Bringing up children after separation is truly one of the hardest things. We want to share our stories with you in the hope that they might help you choose to keep persevering to bring up your children together as co-parents, even though you are no longer in a relationship together.

Parenting through separation

Becoming a separated parent is not something you may have anticipated. It is challenging in so many ways and can be very daunting.

This guide aims to give parents access to information and support that helps them throughout their parenting journey, through separation, divorce and beyond.

Innovative solutions to family issues: Co-parenting tools

A number of websites and apps help separated parents share information about their children’s needs and plan anything from diaries to mealtimes. Many also have built-in recording of conversations and tools to help reduce conflict in the co-parenting space. As these are now sometimes court-ordered, practitioners are advised to have at least a basic knowledge of what the different options offer.

Together Apart

This one day training course by Adele Ballantyne explores the insights from relationship psychology, for family lawyers and other professionals into divorce and separation. Both in terms of how divorce and separation impacts on clients and on family professionals themselves.

Helping your children deal with their emotions

Children will react in different ways to the divorce. Some will be angry, hurt or upset, some may show no reaction at all. In families where there has been a great deal of fighting between parents, children may even feel relieved. They need to know that this is normal. Below we look at the common emotions children might experience and how you can help support them through this time.

Maintaining relationships with your children

When parents split up the questions about where the children will live and how will each parent get to spend time with them will naturally arise.

It is important to keep your children informed about what you are planning and listen to their opinions too. Relate has some useful resources to help you plan living arrangements with your children.

The rest of this section looks at how to manage more trying situations, such as if one parent has to move away or if there is difficulty in keeping in contact with your children.

Managing life between two homes

For children, being able to spend time with both of their parents is important. As difficult as it may seem at first, managing to successfully parent across two homes is achievable.

Tips for parenting apart

While your relationship with your partner has ended, your role as a parent has not. As you move on with life after your divorce, you and your ex will need to manage your relationship as separated parents.

The Parenting Charter

Conflict is damaging, especially conflict happening between the two people your children love best in the world.

Our Parenting Charter sets out what children should be able to expect from their parents if they are separating and what separating parents need to do in the interests of their children. At times of family difficulty, it is easy for adults to forget what it is like to be a child, distracted as they may be by feelings of hurt and fear for the future.

Looking after yourself

Recognising your feelings will allow you to better support your children. Understand how anger, denial and depression can affect you and how you can manage them.