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When former Olympic Swimmer Rebecca Adlington announced her separation from her husband Harry Needs at the beginning of April this year, she claimed they were “still the best of friends”.
Days later, however, according to various reports, it transpired that she left her infant daughter in her ex-husband’s care, whilst she jetted off to a luxury beach resort in Barbados. Her husband is reported to have expressed some surprise at her decision to go on holiday without their daughter, suggesting that he was in the dark about her travel plans.
Communication is so important in many aspects of life, but when it comes to parenting children – especially when the parents live apart – effective and constructive communication is a must. Of course, the emotional impact of a relationship breakdown can affect the former couple’s ability to communicate with each other.
Hurt, anger and mistrust are all common emotions felt when a relationship breaks down and putting these emotions to one side can often be difficult. But letting your strong emotions inform your decisions and approach to dealing with your fellow parent can be a huge mistake. In a desire to punish your former partner, it could be damaging for your child.
What could be done to make this scenario better for everyone?
- Keep the other parent aware of travel plans, and leave contact details and ways to communicate. It is perfectly normal for Rebecca to wish to go on holiday if she wishes, however it is important for her not to surprise Harry and to leave contact details for him. The parent at home will want to be clear about the duration of the holiday, and how to be able to make contact if something important or urgent crops up. The parent on holiday will also be unhappy with the parent at home if they are not contacted about such matters.
- Agree what contact each party expects whilst the other is away. If the children are older, what contact will the children have whilst the parent is on holiday, and how will this happen? There may be a time difference that needs to be considered, but with Skype, Facetime and such like, the opportunities for indirect contact “round the clock” are better than ever, WiFi permitting. You want expectations to be met, and want to avoid conflict.
- Be sensitive to the feelings of the parent at home with care of the child. Parenting is hard, and this is more so if you are parenting on your own. Posting regular updates of the latest cocktail sampled by the pool is likely to generate resentment in the mind of the parent stuck at home doing the mundane jobs without a break.
- Reciprocate the arrangement. Make sure that each parent is given the same opportunities for “me time”.
- Bear in mind that if the situation between you and your ex-partner deteriorates, it increases the potential for a court to have to intervene. You don’t want to give your ex-partner ammunition to be able to criticise you before the judge.
- It is not unheard of for a parent to try to secure a legal advantage whilst the other party is away from home. Before you travel, assess the risk of your ex taking control of a situation legally, and get advice before you go, if appropriate.
Taking advice in situations such of these can play a vital role in looking after the best interests of children involved in a separation. Family Lawyers can assist at an early stage in identifying what might benefit an individual’s situation.
At Blackadders, we have an experienced and talented team which are able to offer high quality advice to help achieve the best outcome for all parties. Our experts can help identify what your situation requires to help you find the solutions you and your family need, whether that is counselling, mediation, Collaboration, or court intervention. If you require assistance, feel free to contact us.