It is very important that children are able to maintain and develop good relationships with both parents and their wider families regardless of the physical distances between them.
Preserving a high level of contact between families who are separated not just from each other but by international borders can be challenging. It is however, very important that children are able to maintain and develop good relationships with both parents and their wider families regardless of the physical distances between them. The courts in England and Wales would consider this a very important factor in assessing where and with whom a child should live. Set out below are some tips to help things go more smoothly.
Being able to communicate effectively with your child’s other parent is very important. This will make discussions about dates and practical arrangements easier and reduce conflict which will benefit children and reduce stress. If communication is a problem for you and your ex-partner then you might want to consider family counselling or a separated parenting programme.
The more time you allow to plan the better. This will give you more time to iron out any problems or disagreements without pressure of impending holiday time. It is a good idea to make plans for the year ahead if possible, for example, once the school calendar is known. Planning in advance may also save you on travel and accommodation costs.
Quality vs quantity
It is important to think not just about the length of time your child spends with a parent but also the quality of that time. International travel can be tiring, especially for young children. Transitions across time zones and school commitments also need to be factored in. Keep these things in mind to ensure that the child can make the most of the time they have with their family. This may mean longer periods of contact if there are long distances involved or making sure that the child is back home with sufficient time to settle in before starting a new school term.
Use technology to your advantage
Whilst Skype or Facetime will never be a substitute for the real thing, such indirect communications can help to maintain a link between family members and make face to face contact easier. It can also help provide reassurance when a child is away from their primary carer for a long time. Be smart about how and when you organise indirect contact taking into account both families’ timetables and any time zone issues. Try to ensure that contact takes place at the agreed time but be communicative and flexible if problems do arise. Technology can also help with communications and planning, for example, a shared calendar or specialised message platform for separated families can help to keep everyone in the loop and on good terms.
Resolve disputes quickly
If it becomes apparent that there is an issue which you are simply not going to agree on, such as dates for contact or where contact should take place, then it is important to try and resolve these as quickly and amicably as possible. You should obtain local legal advice on where you stand and explore alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation to reduce conflict. There will be more information about family mediation in our next blog post in November.
Each family is different and living apart is never easy but with good planning and communication there is no reason why the challenges of living internationally as a separated family cannot be overcome.
The contents of this article are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Legal advice should always be sought for your specific circumstance.
By Emma Nash
The International Family Law Group LLP
Sponsored article by The International Family Law Group LLP
Emma Nash is an Associate at IFLG. She provides clients with advice and support in relation to a comprehensive range of family law issues including child maintenance, financial provision on divorce, and financial claims by cohabiting couples.
The International Family Law Group LLP is a specialist law firm, based in London, looking after international and national families. iFLG handles a plethora of financial and forum matters linked to a relationship breakdown and matters relating to children (child relocation, abduction, adoption, surrogacy, contact and residence issues). As accredited international family law specialists iFLG regularly receives instructions from foreign lawyers concerning matters in England and Wales. iFLG is also regularly instructed by ICACU (Central Authority for England and Wales) and we also provide expert evidence abroad in family cases.