Children with Separating Parents

Many parents are concerned as to what happens to their children on divorce or separation. Separation is a tough time for your children as well as yourself, although you are not alone, with over 25% of family now headed by single parents. It is important therefore, for parents to consider how they can best help their children to cope with the pain of separation and maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.

Ideally, the parties will be able to make arrangements for any children in divorce / separation in an amicable and cooperative way either through negotiation or mediation. However, it is recognised that this is not always possible. 

Parents can utilise the free help that is available, namely:-

1 - Parenting Plans: Putting children first

This is a free booklet which can be obtained from your local family court or can be downloaded from  It is a useful booklet reminding you of the things that need to be talked through regarding the children when you separate including not only the day to day arrangements, but the holidays, nursery/schooling, money, health issues, routines, how will you deal with communication between you etc. It is helpful when considering these issues to think about your overriding aims in making such arrangements.

It also provides a helpful list of do’s and don’ts and a list of useful organisations that can give further help and advice.

2 - You can also download free of charge from the CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service) website the following useful guides to helping support your children:-

                           “My Family’s Changing” for under 12’s and

                           “My Family’s Changing” for over 12’s.

3 - There is also a useful guide available for free download from Resolution at their website  “Separation and Divorce – Helping parents to help their children”.

What happens to your children in divorce or separation, when it is not possible to reach an agreement either directly through mediation? In these cases, it may be necessary to file an application with the Court.

Following such an application, the first appointment will usually be listed for conciliation. This is where the parents attend with a Court mediator, known as a CAFCASS officer, who will try and resolve matters in the hour before the Court directions appointment when the solicitors are also invited to attend.

If matters cannot be agreed, and there are significant welfare issues, then a further CAFCASS officer will be requested to prepare a detailed report, making recommendations to the Court. This will usually involve 2-3 interviews with you both at your home and at their office and probably involve interviewing the children.

A decision will be reached at a further Court hearing based on all the factors, including the wishes of the children.

To discuss any difficulties arising regarding your children, please contact Berry Smith Lawyers and to speak with us about what happens to children in divorce or separation at our Cardiff or Bridgend offices, or on Cardiff 02920 345511 or Bridgend on 01656 645525 for a no obligation discussion or further details.


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