As a parent, while you may have completed your divorce and have all legal and financial aspects covered, there is no such thing as finality while you co-parent your children in a different way of life that will continue to evolve as the children get older.
This article looks at potential changes in both your life and those of your children that mean that as co-parents, you will still have to have some form of ongoing contact with your former partner.
Children’s education changes
As your children grow up and move from primary to secondary education for example, this can have an impact on the time that both parents are able to spend with the children.
What once worked – picking up your children during weekdays at a given time or dropping off at school – may not always work as their timetables and educational requirements flex.
Weekday contact may not always be feasible as educational workloads increase and practicalities such as moving from one household to another may no longer be in your children’s best interests.
Co-parenting is for life and finding a means to communicate and adapt schedules to these changes is imperative for the children’s well-being.
Your children evolve
Children naturally grow up and the ensuing changes to their everyday lifestyles and requirements cannot possibly be considered fully within the initial divorce considerations and final agreements made at that time.
Separating parents with younger children, will require (or demand) different levels of emotional and financial support as they mature.
Naturally we would advocate to always to put the emotional well-being of your children at the forefront, but changes in their lifestyles will make the financial agreements flex.
Children grow up – issues such as who pays for the mobile phone contracts, who buys the latest must have educational technology, who contributes towards learning to drive – are rarely given as much thought at the time of separation when younger children are the subject of the agreement, but become more and more relevant and frequent as children get older.
In the post-divorce world, there is constant flux and one area that often causes conflict in the co-parenting world is the arrival of new partners.
What worked for many months or years can change significantly if you or your former partner enter a new relationship.
Depending on the age of your children, the introduction of a new partner by either party can upset what was once a working environment. Children that were once happy with the system of splitting time between parents, may not take to the new partner and challenge or want to change the access times parents once had set up.
This can cause renewed tensions for existing agreements if for example a more grown-up child refuses to see either mum or dad based on their dislike of the new partner.
By not seeing the parent with the new partner, the financial running costs will fall on the “favoured” parent with whom they stay – what was once deemed to be a financially balanced level of contributions from one parent to another may not work anymore and can cause renewed levels of friction as to who pays whom what maintenance.
New life – new job – new horizon
As this article has highlighted, there are few constants in the post-divorce world other than having to try and find the best and most amicable way to co-parent if you have children.
In the often-painful road from separation to divorce, both parties are likely to be heavily focused in the “here and now” – coping with their day to day life that has significantly changed.
As life enters a new norm, it is very common and arguably healthy to reconsider your lot in life. This might entail quite significant changes to your life including job changes, relocation or other life choices that have an impact both financially and potentially from an availability perspective.
Where possible, we advise talking to your legal team about any significant or foreseen life or lifestyle changes ahead of time. Not only will this help you make informed decisions, it will assist you in how to approach the subject with your former partner and be able to explain and understand the level of formality required to implement and/or formalise any changes to your parenting or financial agreement.