Often unconsciously, parents place children at the centre of what can become the main contention of their separation, making it more difficult for their children to cope and with many unintended and unforeseen consequences.

From our extensive experience in handling difficult discussions between parents following separation, we understand the significant damage that can be caused by parents putting their interests before those of their children.

As specialists in advising separated parents, we have seen the considerable benefit of careful advice on how best to minimise conflict between parents.

Lisa Girdwood, accredited child law specialist and partner

Conflict and acrimony between separating parents can affect children in many ways including poorer educational outcomes, emotional and physical problems and a greater risk of failed relationships in adult life.

We are at the forefront of encouraging separated parents to communicate about their children through mediation or supported discussions using collaboration. With the most family lawyer mediators in Scotland, we have practical knowledge of how mediation can help parents to work cooperatively and in their children's interests.

We recognise that in some complex circumstances, people cannot agree on what is right for their children. In those cases, we guide clients through the court process with tenacity and wisdom.

Our most frequently asked questions:

  • How is child custody (contact and residence) determined in a divorce or separation?

    It is open to you and your former partner to agree between you who your child should live with and when each parent spends time with your child. If you can't come to an agreement, then you can ask the court to decide where your child lives and when you see them. If the court is asked to make a decision then it will consider what is in the child's best interests. This will include considering any view that your child has expressed about who they want to live with and when they want to see their other parent.

  • How is child support calculated and what expenses does it cover?

    Child maintenance is money which is used to help pay for all a child's living costs when one parent (or guardian) does not live with the said child as part of the family.

    Child maintenance is calculated based on a number of factors such as the paying parent's income, whether they are receiving any benefits, or other factors which may affect the paying parent's ability to pay (like whether they are paying maintenance for another child). The Child Maintenance Service will then apply one of five rates based on the gross weekly income of the paying parent and the average number of nights per week the child stays with the paying parent.

    • What is a parenting plan and why is it important?

      A parenting plan is a document which parents can access at any time to remind themselves as to the arrangements for their children. It is a communication aid and can help to prevent disagreements or misunderstandings. Parenting plans can be made by the parents/family themselves or with assistance from solicitors or mediators. Each plan is bespoke to the individual child/family and can contain as little or as much information as would be considered helpful.

    • How can I help my child adjust to the changes caused by divorce or separation?

      It is widely acknowledged that it is unresolved conflict, not parental separation or divorce, which is most harmful to children. If parents are able to separate in a manner which keeps their children at the centre of their thinking and decision-making then children are able to cope better with changes in their family circumstances. If parents want help with the changes caused by separation then there are many resources available for them or their children. There are a number of good books and websites set up to help. It is also important to ensure that those who live/work most closely with children (such as teachers and child minders) are aware of any issues so that they can support the children or family when appropriate.

    • What are my rights as a parent during a divorce or separation?

      While the impact of a separation upon children varies (particularly when considering their age), it can leave some feeling that their whole world has been turned upside down. Some children can feel a sense of loss and others may build feelings of anger and confusion. Many children cling on to a hope that their parents will reconcile. Sometimes these feelings can manifest into adverse behaviours and emotions.

      Provided both parents had parental responsibilities and parental rights before the separation and no orders have been made by the court to restrict or remove them, the legal position will remain the same.

      Depending on the living and care arrangements, there may be a 'resident parent' and a 'contact' parent. Notwithstanding the separation, parents should continue to work together to co-parent their child(ren). Whilst the relationship or marriage may have broken down, the bond as parents will continue forever.

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    Separating or Divorcing with Children key highlights

    • We have represented clients in highly contentious litigation in relation to the care children in the highest courts in Scotland.
    • We have the highest number of family lawyer mediators in Scotland.
    • One of the largest practices in Scotland looking after private individuals, we advise on all matters related to the international aspects of our clients' lives - find out more.
    • Visit our dedicated FAQ page for more information.

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    Our divorce lawyers, family solicitors and mediators are personable and approachable. Our objective is to resolve matters for you as efficiently as possible, so that we can get the best outcome for you and your family.

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