An Analysis of Divorce in the UK

analysis of UK divorce

Divorce is not a topic that married, or engaged to be married couples ever want to broach in general conversation. It’s always best to be prepared, so why avoid a discussion that could help your marriage stick in the long run?

The marriage-divorce ratio in the UK is encroaching on 2:1, with 44% of marriages resulting in separation for couples. However, a survey conducted by relationship support experts Relate showed that currently, out of the 5,000 people who were surveyed, 78% felt happy, and even perfect about their relationship. Only 13% of those 5,000 people said that they occasionally regretted getting married or civil-partnered, so why is the divorce ratio so high for UK couples?

The infographic below lays out all the information you need in order to keep your marriage in tip top condition, and steered clear away from the path of divorce. It details the top 10 most common disruptions in a marriage, as well as the 7 signs one should be on the lookout for, in order to address the situations and hopefully right them. Every marriage has its ups and downs, and with the gap between the number of marriages and divorces growing further and further apart, it’s proof that couples now are working harder at keeping theirs together.

Infographic of divorce in UK

We wish you the absolute best of luck with your marriage, but we're always here to help you through the process should you decide to divorce, with our top notch Family Law services.

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What To Think About When Drawing Up A Custody Arrangement

'Custody' spelt out with Scrabble tiles with title overlaid
Picture of Jon Gilbert

In the second of our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert , advises you on what needs to be taken into consideration when drawing up what is commonly referred to as a custody agreement.

I’m going to start this guide by stating three things;

1) If you find yourself in a custody battle, you’ll hear the term ‘child arrangements order’ a lot – a child arrangements order sets out who a child should live with and who he or she should spend time with.

2) Your actions and the things you say about the other side can adversely affect the child or children. No matter how much you may dislike the other side, conduct yourself with class as you may negatively affect your relationship with the child or children as well as their relationship with the other parent or guardian. A bitter custody dispute benefits no one, least of all the child or children.

3) When deciding on the details of a child arrangements order, the judge is going to put the best interests of the child first at all times. When deciding on custody, no one is more important than the child or children.

​When putting together a child arrangements order, or custody agreement, there are several options available. In this short guide, I will present these possibilities so that parents, anyone else who may have parental responsibility and other people, such as grandparents, who can also apply for an order, know what to expect from the process.

1. Legal Representation is Very Important

I would strongly advise anyone seeking to establish custody arrangements in respect of a child to consult with a solicitor before starting any legal proceedings. We can explain the full set of available options according to the particularities of the case, as well as the consequences they would have for both the parents or guardians and the children. This could prove extremely useful for the entire family because a solicitor could help the spouses make an informed decision quickly, thus preventing the need for costly and lengthy court proceedings.

2. The Main Types of Custody Agreement

A ‘child arrangements order’ will decide the following:

Black and white photo of a father reading to his son
  • where the child or children lives (Living arrangements)
  • how much time the child or children spend time with each parent or guardian (Quality time)
  • when and what other types of contact, such as phone calls, take place (Additional arrangements)
  • Living Arrangements
  • Quality Time
  • Additional Arrangements

In the majority of circumstances, a judge will always try to create a child arrangements order where the child or children spend time living with both parents. In practice, although shared residence is becoming more frequent, you should know that often the child or children will live with one parent for more time than another in order to ensure a level of stability for the child. Therefore, the child will most likely live with one parent during the week to make sure they have an established routine during term-time and then will spend alternate weekends with each parent. More and more though, judges are now trying to ensure that both parents get time with their children during the week and at weekends in my experience.

Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders

Furthermore, a Specific Issue Order may also be put in place by a judge. This deals with a specific question regarding how the child is brought up, such as which school they will attend and whether they will receive a religious education. In addition, a parent or guardian can also apply for a Prohibited Steps order in order to prevent the other parent or guardian from unilaterally making a decision about the child’s upbringing.

3. How To Reach A Custody Arrangement

The process leading to the establishment of a custody agreement mainly depends on the relationship between the parents. If they are able to reach a decision amicably, then it can remain informal. However, in most cases, parents cannot reach a mutually beneficial agreement and, as such, they opt for a more complex legal path towards determining custodial boundaries.

  • Informal Custody ARRANGEMENTS
  • Mediation
  • Family Court

This is the simplest way to reach a custody agreement, as parents can negotiate on their own terms and find an arrangement that benefits them both, as well as the child. They may opt to involve a solicitor to make their decision official, or they may opt to avoid legal proceedings altogether. Note that this is a viable option only for parents who are able to trust one another fully.

As you can see, the process of reaching a custody agreement can either be simple or extremely complex, depending on the relationship between the two parents. It is crucial that they seek legal support in this process because they must be aware of all the options available to them, as well as the long-term implications of each action they choose to take.

Ultimately, as I suggested at the start of this guide, parents really should put the child’s best interest ahead of their personal grievances with one another. Custody battles could prove to be emotionally traumatizing for kids. Therefore, if there is even a chance of reaching an agreement amicably, those with parental responsibility should always explore this option before taking the case to court.

​If you ever need to draw up a custody agreement, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.

What To Think About When Starting Divorce Proceedings

OImage of a wedding ring circling definition of divorce with title overlaid

Picture of Jon Gilbert

In the first in our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert, outlines what to keep in mind if you ever unfortunately feel that you need to start divorce proceedings against your partner.

The emotional turmoil caused by parting with your spouse or civil partner can be nerve-wracking and heartbreaking. However, it is crucial that you find a way to leave all this aside and assess your situation as clearly as possible before you start divorce proceedings.

In this short guide, I will tell you the most important things you need to consider before setting things in motion so that you are properly represented and protected. The most important aspect you should remember is that from a legal standpoint, divorce has nothing to do with your feelings.

As such, you should direct all your efforts towards getting thoroughly prepared to deal with the legal implications. This will actually help you get through the separation rapidly and efficiently so that you can then focus on your emotions and get over this traumatic event.

1. Think Carefully About What You Want

Before making any rash decisions, you need to consider what you want to get out of your divorce. While this may be highly unpleasant, you should set your objectives before you embark on this legal endeavour. While the apparent goal is obviously separating from your spouse, there are a few other aspects you should think about, such as child arrangements orders, and claims to properties and other belongings.

You should also know that there is never a winner when it comes to divorce. It is a complex legal process that will have life-altering effects on both you and your spouse. Moreover, you are highly unlikely to get absolutely everything you want, so make sure you prioritise your goals. You should be ready to make a few concessions as well, especially if you want to expedite the process.

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2. Seek The Counsel of a Solicitor

No matter how you intend to proceed with your divorce, the first thing you need to do is seek professional legal advice. You must find a lawyer who specialises in Family Law and Divorce to help you organise a solid plan for the upcoming progression.

I recommend you do this as early as possible because your solicitor can explain the options you have available in terms of legal proceedings. A professional can also assist you in developing a divorce strategy that can help you achieve the objectives you have set.

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3. Find The Ideal Divorce Process For You

Your solicitor will advise you which legal process is best-suited for your situation, but it will be your decision in the end. Make sure you’re fully informed about the advantages and disadvantages of each process so that you can proceed with the best course of action for your situation. Here are the main options you can choose from:

Going to court

This is the most complicated legal process you can choose for your divorce. It is both costly and traumatising for you and your spouse, so resort to this only if you have no other alternative. If there is even a slight chance of a successful communication with your partner, then you should probably try mediation or collaborative divorce before you take matters to court.

Image of Schopin's painting :Le divorce de l'Impératrice Joséphine

With this option too, the final decisions about your life will be taken by a judge. This means that no matter how strong your case is, there is a possibility that things will not go the way you expect them to. My advice is to avoid going to court unless absolutely necessary.

Solicitor to Solicitor Negotiation

​This is the usual way solicitors are involved in the divorce process– we negotiate the divorce for you, doing our upmost to protect your position and make sure you are well looked after, without needing to face your former partner in meetings. Asking a solicitor to do all the work for you is an expensive way forward though. While I am happy to undertake all of the work on a client’s behalf, I would not be doing my job properly if I didn’t advise that the process of going back and forth with no contact between the clients can make this a lengthy process. Therefore, if you and your ex-partner can find a way to communicate effectively, it will help to reduce the timescale of the process and reduce some of the costs for both of you.

​Mediation

This is one of the least aggressive legal processes you can opt for, which makes it a viable option if you think you can communicate efficiently with your former spouse. Together with your solicitor, you will have to draft an agreement that features what you expect to get from the divorce.

This includes everything from claims to individually-owned properties and items, as well as joint belongings, and child custody claims. It is crucial that this document is written by a solicitor as it must feature the proper terminology.

Scrabble tiles spelling out the word mediation

Then, the agreement is assessed by your partner together with his or her solicitor, and you will receive a second version of the document that features their decision about the claims you have set. You will then review the new agreement with your representative to decide if you are satisfied with the terms.

You should be prepared to make several drafts of the divorce agreement until you can get the final version that represents your wishes, as well as your partner’s. Finally, you and your spouse will sign the contract, and you will divide the matrimonial assets accordingly. Any such agreement should then be embodied in a Financial Consent Order to be sealed by a judge.

​Collaborative Divorce

This is yet another viable option you should consider if you and your spouse are willing to work things out outside of court. Each of you will have legal representation, and you will participate in negotiating sessions. These will be supervised by a team of specialists, including accountants and mental health professionals, who can help with the decision-making process.

It features face-to-face meetings, as well as telephone calls and e-mails with the aim of identifying the final terms of the divorce that can represent the wishes of both partners. When the negotiations are complete, the solicitors will finalise the divorce.

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4. Prepare Documentation for your Belongings

Before you begin the official proceedings for divorce, you should make a comprehensive inventory of your belongings. This could prove useful during the divorce process, especially if you are dealing with a hostile spouse.

I recommend you make a list of the items you own separately and one for those that are jointly owned by you and your spouse. You should also gather the required documentation for these items, such as copies of the property documents and photographs displaying them in your home.

Aside from the items themselves, you should also include the day’s newspaper in your photographs to establishan indisputable timeline. It may also prove useful to determine the value of your belongings, so make sure you get a professional assessment of your valuable items.

All in all, there is no easy way to get through a divorce, but being properly prepared for the legal process will help you get as much as possible from it. Confide in your solicitor so that you can find the ideal legal techniques that will enable you to reach your objectives. A professional can guide you through every step of the process so that you can put an end to this part of your life in a swift and relatively trouble-free manner.

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to start divorce proceedings, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.

The Changing Dynamics of a British Family

At one time, the nuclear family was considered the norm – two parents, usually married, and their 2.4 children living happily together. Nowadays, however, the nuclear family is quite the rarity. Changes in family dynamics over the last 40 years or so have seen an increase in single parents, extended families, and same-sex couples.

The number of marriages taking place in the UK has been steadily increasing again after reaching a low point in 2009; and divorce rates are also decreasing, meaning more people are choosing to stay married. This could be due to the fact that more and more people are waiting until their 30s to get married, perhaps increasing the likelihood of them marrying the ‘right’ person. A recent increase in immigration to the UK has also brought a great deal of diversity, and our population now includes greater numbers of people who place a stronger emphasis on the union of marriage.

Additionally, the legalisation of same sex marriage on March 29th 2014 has seen more than 15,000 marriages take place so far, with 55% between female couples, and 45% males. As a result of this, the number of civil partnerships is currently in decline.

In modern Britain it is not uncommon for a child to have divorced parents who have met new partners, creating step-parents and extended families, or to be raised by a single parent. It is also not uncommon for children to be raised by same-sex parents.

The infographic below highlights some of the key statistics surrounding the ever-changing dynamics of family life in Great Britain...

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Advice From 8 Experts; Dealing With Children During Divorce

Divorce is an inevitably difficult time for all involved. But amongst the turmoil of separation, are our actions made with our children fully in mind? When divorce is inevitable are we too easily sucked into mind games, jealousy and rivalries? Divorce is something you will never get used to, in the respect that it won’t happen every week. It is therefore our pleasure to be able to present to you a selection of experts, all of which have dealt with divorce in some form. Our experts consist of teachers, councilors, therapists and community leaders. We asked our experts; what advice would you give to divorcing parents on how to deal with their children? Here are their responses;

Young Minds – www.youngminds.org.uk

Mental Health Organisation For Young People

"Separation may mean children losing the home they are used to, changing school and losing friends, not seeing one parent on a regular basis and hearing their parents rowing.
Coping with these changes is not easy for anyone, and many children feel sad, guilty, angry and abandoned. These feelings can lead to emotional and behavioural problems, such as disobedience, nightmares or clinginess. As a parent, you may be dealing with very difficult feelings yourself and it is sometimes hard to protect your children from these.

However it is important to try and show them they are loved by both parents, and that the problem is not their fault. Try not to argue in front of them or use them in your disputes and if possible ensure they have a relationship with both parents, however acrimonious your split has been.

Children should not be made to feel bad about missing the parent that no longer lives with them."

Priya Chandra – www.desiblitz.com

Author at DESIblitz, The Nations Leading South Asian Magazine/Website

Any couple with children going through a divorce means that the decision does not just impact them but the whole family.

For British Asian parents, it is no different, but culturally, where divorce was not once common - most parents stayed together for the sake of the children, family and community. Today, this has all changed and divorce is soaring in the Asian community (http://www.desiblitz.com/content/soaring-rate-of-british-asian-divorce).

Commonly, the mother gets custody of the children and if the divorce is amicable, the father gets rights to see the children. But this is not always the case.

The impact on the children of parent divorcing can be huge especially, if the divorce is not a pleasant one. Therefore key advice for divorcing parents to deal with children is:

1. Give children as much possible support when they are told about the divorce - because they will feel fearful of the future without both parents

2. Do not use your children as a 'political football' in the divorce

3. Do not get the children to take sides

4. Think about providing dual care if possible.

5. If the divorce is not amicable, then ensure the children get maximum support emotionally and financially

6. Get support from the family network e.g. grand-parents

7. Find a means to ensure there is contact for both parents to provide some stability

8. The mother should not prohibit the father from seeing the children

9. The children need to be told the truth but at the right age re. the reasons for divorce

10. Do not put one parent down in front of the children.

Annie & Abi (Aged 14) - www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk

Participants of Voices in the Middle – A UK Charity aiming to bring comfort to young people through divorce

1. Recognise that we love and need both parents.

2. Don’t turn us into messengers. Parents should talk directly to each other.

3. Don’t say bad things about our other parent.

4. Don’t grill us about what is going on at our other parents house.

5. Don’t ask us to take sides.

6. Don’t make us feel like we are being disloyal to you if we enjoy being with our other parent.

7. If you have something angry to say to our other parent don’t say it around us.

8. Don’t purposely forget important clothing or gear when we are going to our other parents place.

Originally written by the children of divorce’s bill of rights www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk/story/children-divorce-bill-of-rights/

David Didau - www.learningspy.co.uk

Author of ‘What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong

My only meaningful advice to divorcing parents is to keep it civilised and to remain adult in their dealing with each other and their children. Obviously that’s a lot easier said than done and I understand that the end of a relationship is a huge emotional upheaval. Bitterness, recrimination and anger, no matter the perceived right of an offended party to feel these emotions, will not help anyone and can have a devastating effect on children. I remembering reading that horrific as it is to have a parent die, children recover from this trauma more readily than they do from divorce and that is primarily to do with the negative emotions and spiteful behaviour exhibited by parents.

Sure, divorce happens, but it doesn’t have to descend into petty tit-for-tat exchanges and ill will. Remember, being a parent is more enduring and more important than being a husband or a wife.

Bob Brotchie - www.angliacounselling.co.uk

Therapist

1. While you and your partner are separating and your emotions are 'charged', do remember your children and others who may depend on you will also be feeling anxious and challenged.

2. Agree, at all costs, to share a united, consistent approach to the separation which confirms that the dependents ARE safe, loved, and this will continue.

3. Never, ever use your anger, resentment and any power you may have to get at the other partner, by way of the children. It puts them in an impossible position. Point scoring is not cool!

4. Similarly, never coach children to try and get the estranged parent to return.

5. Regardless of the actual or perceived cause of a relationship breakdown in which children are going to be involved, the kids will have cause to wonder in which way they are complicit.

Jay Krunszyinsky - www.relationshiprepair.net

Author & Life Coach

One of the biggest questions that I have pondered as a life coach is: How do the divorced parents remain emotionally well and supportive during the initial stages of the divorce when the children need an environment of love and compassion? The question is more about how the parents can deal with their emotional state more than how they will manage their children. If a parent possesses a positive and loving emotional state, his or her natural inclination will be to be loving and supportive to his or her children. In response, the children will manage the upcoming changes much better. When the parents react to each other in negative and undermining ways, the children will respond in maladaptive ways to the ensuing unrest and uneasiness.

Children are impacted by the emotional state of their parents. When or if they enter a negative emotional state, parents will project their negativity outward creating more instability in their children's lives. Many times, at least one parent is more negatively impacted by the divorce and cannot easily move to a improved state of mind during the initial stages. The negative feelings of betrayal, loss, or any other negative state come from beliefs that one lacks what is needed to be happy. Both parents need to find ways to neutralize their negative beliefs about each other and any other fears in order to engage each other and the children in supportive, honest, and respectful ways.

Karan – Editor of www.thisrelationship.com

Relationship Advisor

First of all the parents should talk to each other and should try to settle the things silently and with understanding, if not for them then for the sake of their children at least but if things have already gone out of their hands then nobody can do anything.

The first thing children should be told with the growing age is that choosing the partner carefully is really very important and if their parents had a divorce then that doesn't mean marriage always proves to be unsuccessful. Here are few points which a parent should consider teaching them:

Choose the partner carefully who is always there for you.

1. Marriage is the bond which is one of the strongest among all he relations and it should be respected (this will keep their belief alive).

2. If you are a single mother of a boy then never forget to teach him the importance of wife, he should keep this thing in mind- A girl leaves her family, her lifestyle, her likes-dislikes, even her surname just to make your world beautiful then it is your responsibility to take care of her, treasure her and treat her the way you want your daughter to be treated by her husband.

3. Make them understand the reasons, tell them the truth that made you had a divorce (only if they understand this thing, don't do this if they are very young to understand all these), this would be a great lesson for them.

4. Most importantly, teach them how to adjust, tell them they have to adjust at some stages in life, never ever make silly decisions in anger and try to adjust and make things go smooth.

5. If they have been into depression seeing you getting separated then to help them get out of it never show your sadness, your loneliness to them, be happy with them, take them out, show your love.

Jo Payne - www.mrspteach.com

Teacher & Blogger

As a teacher, there are two main bits of advice which I would give to parents going through a divorce.

Firstly, keep the school informed. I don’t just mean letting your child’s teacher know that you and your partner are splitting up, although that is important. Inform school staff of any changes, however slight you feel they are. School is completely away from the home situation and sometimes children save their feelings and emotions for such a place. The more teachers know about what is happening at home, the less they have to discover from children. When teachers know there are two homes which the child is returning to, they can prepare two sets of letters, resources or information. It is also useful for the staff, as well as the child, to know who is picking them up on which days and when any new adults/children come into the child’s life through the family situation.

Secondly, no matter how horrible the situation becomes, ensure that the education of your child is something you work as a team to support. Come to parents evenings together, sit next to each other at performances and both help with homework. As a teacher, it is important to know that the whole family is on side regarding the child’s education. More importantly, though, you are sending the message to your child that they are important and that, though you are apart now, you are together in supporting and nurturing them and their education.

Cari Rosen - www.gransnet.com

Editor - Gransnet

Divorce can be difficult for the wider family as well as those going through the separation. But it can also be a time where grandparents can really make a positive difference.

Try to keep your relationship with your grandchildren on as normal a footing as you can: they are having to adjust to big changes in their lives so consistency from another source can be hugely beneficial. Offering an objective ear (they key being objective...) whenever they want to talk can also be a great help.

Many Gransnet members have found themselves in this position - and have been happy to share their experiences to help anyone going through it now. Their wisdom includes:

1. Let the children know how loved they are.

2. Offer lots of hugs, laughter and warmth.

3. Keep things relaxed and cheerful. Let them understand that your home is a place where they are always welcome and where they can put their worries aside for a while.

4. Offer them space and opportunity to talk if they want to

5. Remind the children that they are NOT to blame for the split

6. Make sure you never put them in a position where they have to choose where their loyalties lie

7. Remember that it's best for everyone (you included) to keep things as amicable as possible. Even if that can't be done, continue to do what you can to be supportive, objective and welcoming to both sides.

Terry Gaspard - www.movingpastdivorce.com

Therapist, Blogger, and Author of Daughters of Divorce

1. Pick a time and location that is private and works best for your children when you talk to them about your divorce. Avoid having discussions the night before they have a big test, an audition for a school play, etc. Accept that things may get emotional and that children express their feelings in different ways. Strive to listen and show empathy to them when they express negative emotions rather than getting defensive.

2. Don’t bad-mouth the other parent. Keep in mind that children cope better after divorce when they have a close relationship with both of their parents. So if they ask why you divorced, consider saying something like, “Your dad and I have tried really hard to get along, and it’s just not working anymore.” Avoid: “Your dad has a bad temper.”

3. Reassure your children. Explain that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the divorce and there isn’t anything they can do to fix it. Remind your kids that you love them very much and nothing will change that. The most important thing is to explain that your breakup has nothing to do with them. Plan on repeating this message fairly often.

4. Tell your kids what will change, and what will stay the same. After a divorce, children crave predictability and constancy more than ever. They’ll probably have basic questions about what will happen next, like “Where will I live?” or “Who will take me to school?” This is why having a parenting plan in place is so important. Several co-parenting websites offer a “custody calendar.” Explain where mom and dad will live, and how often you will both see them. Discuss important things related to their routine, and underscore what is staying the same, like: “Mom will still drive you to school every morning.”

5. Tell the honest, simple truth, and encourage questions. It’s impossible to predict your children’s reaction but be up front about your divorce “from the start.” It’s important that all of their questions are answered as honestly and completely as possible. You don’t need to give your kids more information than they need, such as: “Dad has cheated on mom twice in the past year.” But you can give them basic information such as: “Mom and Dad have fallen out of love, but still love you very much.”

6. Remind your kids that you want to encourage an open dialog as time progresses. The first conversation you have, when you break the news of the divorce, should not be the last. Your divorce will unfold in your children’s life in unexpected ways as they mature. If your children know you’re open to continuing the conversation, everyone’s best interests will be protected.

7. Let your children know that you plan to date (if you do) but that you won’t introduce them to anyone unless you’re fairly sure the relationship is serious or more than casual. You want to reassure them that your time with them is special and you’ll be sure to keep it sacred. Also, tell your kids that you need time for socializing and you’ll be refreshed if you carve out time for friends.

Follow Terry on movingpastdivorce.com & Twitter. Her new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup And Enjoy A Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship” can be found here.

Story Massage for Children - www.storymassage.co.uk

Children's Therapist 

At Story Massage we have a specific method in which we encourage adults to talk with their children, this combines positive touch with words. It is now being used as a valuable way of helping children to explore and understand different and difficult emotions.

Our advice would be to take this beautiful and heartfelt Story Massage which was written by a grandmother on one of our recent training days. It contains such a powerful message of love and hope that we wanted to share it with you as it could offer an alternative approach to dealing with children during divorce.

Your family is not broken…

Mummy has gone one way. (Half fan)

Daddy has gone another. (Half fan)

It’s still okay to love Mummy. (Circle)

It’s still okay to love Daddy. (Circle)

Mummy and Daddy love you. (Circle)

Sometimes you get angry. (Drum)

Sometimes you get sad. (Sprinkle)

But that’s okay. (Calm)

It feels like your family is broken. (Sideways Wave)

But it’s not. It’s only cracked. (Wave)

For everyone is still here. (Circle)

Aunties, uncles, cousins, Grandad, Nanny. (Circle)

You are very loved. (Circle or Heart)

Our Story Massage book, resources and training options are based on ten simple positive touch strokes. The strokes, all with descriptive names such as The Wave or The Fan, are easy to remember and can be readily adapted to familiar stories or used to create your own special story massages for your own children.

To find our more about our One Day Training Courses in Story Massage please visit our website.

Michelle Thompson - www.mummyandmemagazine.co.uk

Editor - Mummy & Me Magazine

"If you and your partner have taken the decision to separate, the important thing when children are involved, is to reassure the child(ren) that they are still very much loved. At a time of great change, it is important to provide your child(ren) with as much stability as possible. If there are any ill feelings between you and your partner, try to avoid confrontation in front of your child(ren) and try to resolve issues between yourselves when your children are not present. Ultimately, because you may not love your partner anymore, you should always make your child aware that you still love them."

Jane McNeice - www.mindmatterstraining.co.uk

Director - Mind Matters Training

When a couple decides to separate or divorce the effects on the children are often determined by how effective, or ineffective, the parents are in supporting and managing the transition.

So why when most parents love their children should it be that, all too often, the process is ineffective and children are left feeling confused, hurt, responsible, and many other negative emotions?

At the point when parent’s separate or divorce, they are often going through a particularly difficult time themselves. They too may be hurt, confused, and coming to terms with the new or forthcoming changes. Their own coping mechanisms may not necessarily be positive, resulting in unhealthy reactions and behaviours that don’t facilitate the best for their children. Most parents won’t intentionally cause hurt or emotional harm to their children, but they may inadvertently do this because of what they are going through.

When supporting your child, or children, through separation and divorce here are some useful points to consider:

Are you managing your own health and emotional wellbeing effectively? Failure to look after your own wellbeing can lead to unhealthy behaviours that consequently affect others in a negative way. It is essential to seek help for yourself at the earliest opportunity e.g. talking to a therapist, or other professional who may be able to assist.

Listen It is essential that your children are listened to and feel heard. This is also an opportunity to check understanding and clear up any misunderstandings your child, or children, may have.

Be honest Children, like anyone, need to feel able to trust those around them. In particular they need to trust the significant adults in their lives - in most cases this is the parents. It is also important that parents consider what discussions are age appropriate for their child, or children.

Remind your child, or children, they are loved Children need to feel safe, secure, and loved in any situation, in particular when they are going through a potentially difficult change.

Expression Children may not be able to express how they feel very easily. Consider opportunities and ways for your child, or children, to express how they feel. This may be through talking about how they feel, moods, or by using other communication media such as pictures.

Seek help Remember there is often a wide team of support around you and your children e.g. schools, nurseries, GP’s, community organisations, health practitioners, relatives, and friends. Seek support from others, and ensure those who need to be aware know about the changes that your child, or children, is experiencing.

Further emotional support for both adults and children can be accessed from the Mind Matters website www.mindmatterstraining.co.uk