Child custody agreements could reduce stress

Date: Aug 25, 2011

Parents in the process of separation may find that their children react in a variety of ways to the situation.

Factors such as age, personality and the nature of the parental relationship can all impact on their understanding of the process.

Children need support during these times from trusted sources, such as close friends and relatives, to allow them to adapt to changing circumstances.

By providing a loving, supportive environment that is as accepting of change and free of stress as possible, both parents may find that their part in the process can be easier to bear.

An important fact to remember throughout a separation is that parents' responsibilities to their children are enforceable under law until they reach the age of 18 - a role that is not diminished if a partner remarries.

To facilitate this with a minimum of negative impact, parents who agree on the details for the arrangement of care are allowed to enter into a voluntary parenting agreement.

This document allows former partners to solidify the exact nature of care to be provided by the pair and can be made without the need for a court appearance - reducing the stresses that can be associated with formal proceedings.

However, this plan is not a legally enforceable arrangement - meaning that it can be changed by both parties at any time.

Consent orders offer another avenue available to parents who agree on the conditions of care to be provided to their offspring.

These written documents cover the financial aspects of care provision, as well as issues of property access and maintenance arrangements.

Consent orders have the advantage of being enforceable by law. This means that any potential alterations have to be passed through official channels before they can be applied.

On the other hand, this makes changes in circumstances a little harder to take into account, as legal proceedings may need to be undertaken before different directions can be applied.

Before new consent orders can be made binding, a court must be satisfied that the arrangements are in the best interests of the children.

Persons considering either of these avenues should consider obtaining legal advice from a trusted authority - such as a family lawyer.

Resolution services such as community-based family dispute resolution sessions can help former partners to work out the details of any changes made, without needing to resort to court proceedings.

These methods can save families from emotionally draining formal processes and be less time-consuming for all concerned parties.

The issues of child custody can seem confusing during the emotional process of a separation and people may find that experienced counsel to be of great value.