Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

It can often take a lot of trust and courage to come to terms with the children’s first trip abroad. You may have fears that your ex has not cared for them for that length of time before, that they may not return from the trip, or that your child is too young to travel without you. These are common concerns.

Here are some tips from Relate about how to manage the emotions surrounding travel, as well as the practical side of proceedings.

Source: https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-separation-and-divorce/living-arrangements/taking-children-abroad

 

Managing difficult feelings

  1. Try to remember how you managed difficult feelings when you first separated and draw on the same strengths.
  2. List your concerns – both practical and emotional ones. Sort out what feels most important to think about or act upon first.
  3. Without involving your child in discussions, try thinking about the trip from your child’s point of view. How might they feel if they miss out on an opportunity?
  4. Ask your ex to share any plans they have for the trip abroad, explaining that doing so will reassure you.
  5. Talk through how you feel about the trip with a friend or family member.

 

Practical Considerations

If you give permission it is very important to do the following:

  1. Ask for contact details for example, telephone number and address abroad and details of who else is joining them on holiday.
  2. Make sure your ex has contact details for the children’s doctor in the case of a medical emergency.
  3. Check your ex has travel and medical insurance that covers your child.
  4. Allow your child to e-mail/text/telephone you if they would like to.

Fiona also advises her clients going on holiday with their children to send a text to the other party to let them know of the children’s safe arrival once they’ve reached their destination. It takes little time and can be of significant goodwill and reassurance to the parent left back home alone.

 

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

‘Put on your own mask first, BEFORE you help others’

Facing your first Christmas and New Year after separation can be a challenging time. In December we shared information about some local outdoor spaces – places to take long, reflective, healing walks with family and friends over the holiday period. But now that the holidays are at an end, it’s a difficult time with many of us re-entering the workplace and adjusting to the start of the kids’ school term.

Many of us have news we aren’t quite ready to share, or feelings that we that we want to keep hidden. Time for you is key and at this busy time, at the start of a new year, we want to remind you to make time for you. Scheduling time to look after yourself, to pursue your own interests and to care for your own health is not selfish. Those who depend on you will experience the benefits too. So with that in mind, here are some Self Care recommendations.

 

Retreat

Imagine a ‘breathing / bathing space’ with wooden hot tubs, a hilltop sauna and a terrace café close to the city yet out in the countryside. It’s a dream right? Wrong. PAUS Cambridge is our new ‘go to’ retreat. It’s open on weekends throughout the year.

It might be a bleak midwinter but Czech owner Alexandra recommends the winter months as the best time to maximize the restorative effects of the 40degree water. Book in with a group of friends for an afternoon, or take a look at their workshops and retreats. From ‘Coffee and Canvas’ painting classes to Santosha Yoga, the events are great opportunities to socialise and to try something different.

 

Yoga

Satyam Yoga offer beginner and restorative yoga classes, as well as ‘women’s circles’ – a group experience with the opportunity to ’step out of your busy life for an evening of gentle reconnection’. Their website even explains,

‘Don’t feel you have to bring your best self or stay away because you are not feeling great. You are most welcome to bring your authentic self, just as you are right now in your own particular cycle of ups and downs’

 

Exercise

Hitting the gym is a New Year’s cliché, but we all know that breaking a sweat is a fantastic way to offload negative feelings, and feel better about yourself. Try losing yourself for a moment in an intensive activity, like Puregym’s ‘Sweat 30’ or ‘Burn It’ classes. Their new Grafton Centre branch has opened a stone’s throw from FM Family Law’s offices and we recommend their affordable no-obligation monthly memberships (£12.99), multitude of classes and spacious layout. If you have a hectic lifestyle and find it hard to schedule gym trips into your commuting or childcare schedule, the Leisure Park PureGym is open 24 hours. It has a handy app to check out busy times and quiet times and to keep tab on your attendance. The app allows you to prebook into classes to incentivize you to go. Just ask Fiona!

David Lloyd Gym is another excellent choice, especially if you have children. It has a  crèche available for children from 3 months old, kids play area and an afternoon kids club. These options give single or working parents the flexibility to visit the gym, to have a swim and sauna, or just a quiet coffee break. Their new Blaze classes create the ultimate immersive environment in a specially built studio. It is suitable for fitness beginners and the people (instructors and participants) are particularly friendly and encouraging.

 

Family Walks

Taking walks with family and friends can be a great healer. In the winter months, when we wake before sunrise and don’t feel the sun on our skin, our mood can become suppressed and the emotional toll of relationship breakdown can be confounded. We recommend the National Trust properties surrounding Cambridge – suitable for young and old – such as Anglesey Abbey. If the kids are distracted and happy, we all feel calmer: They have children’s maps with wildlife searching tasks, binoculars & magnifying glasses, an adventure playground and a cozy café.

Also try Ickworth House and Hotel, equi-distant between our Cambridge and Norwich offices. The grounds and gardens are wonderful for a visit, but if you’re in need of some R&R, the hotel has a spa, pool and kids facilities: a fully staffed crèche, kids high tea and baby monitors so you can eat dinner after bedtime.

Beauty & Alternative Therapies

We’re not talking about a ‘new you.’ But beauty treatments can give you the self-esteem boost you might need in challenging times, as well as the chance to really ‘do nothing’ for a change. For hair we like Bamboo on Mill Road, and Ella Cain’s-Sola at Maluku hairdressing – both with great conversation and excellent coffee, too. Lucy, originally from Glassworks, does Christina’s beauty treatments at her home salon, called Lucy’s Beauty. 

For massages and facials we recommend Jennie Hart Aromatherapy for her holistic approach to wellbeing. ‘Imagine that your only job for an hour is to listen to your heart (rather than your busy mind)’ she writes, ‘chances are that feeling more connected to your body, feeling cared for, and taking even an hour to yourself would do you the world of good.’ We hear you, Jenny.

Rosalind Bubb is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapist) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) practitioner. Personally recommended by Christina, she uses energy meridian therapies, as well as acupressure and modern psychology to help people feel happy, calm and well. Rosalind is a skilful and caring therapist, who will quickly put you at your ease. She is easy to talk to and has a light touch. There is often some laughter when you work with her – even when the topic is serious.

Seek Professional Help

Finally, it’s important to emphasise that self-care can take many forms. If you’re feeling low, isolated, or very stressed, seek help from a qualified counsellor or health professional.  Fiona is a trustee of Relate Cambridge, an organization with over 30 counsellors who have experience with individuals, couples, young people and families.

We also recommend Jane McCann of McCann Consultancy. She’s a counsellor and mediator on Burleigh St near our offices, and extremely well regarded in our community. What’s more, she’s a lovely lady and a good sport, too. Marie Edgar offers counselling and psychotherapy, with experience in addiction therapy. Her calm Scottish tones are very reassuring! Meeting good, kind people on this journey – sharing your story with them and asking for their support – is the type of self-care that will get you through the darker days.

Finally, if you need assistance in legal advice or mediation, FM Family Law can help. Getting information about your rights is empowering and liberating. We are experts with decades of experience in family law and we can help you help yourself. Our mediation process enables you to discuss all issues arising from your separation, but away from court and lawyers www.fmfamilylaw.co.uk/what-we-do/mediation/

Brexit (breaking up) is hard to do – Parallels with Divorce – Part 1

Brexit (breaking up) is hard to do – Parallels with Divorce – Part 1

24thJune 2016 – The day I learned a separation was inevitable.

I knew, when I woke up that day that things had changed forever.  Sure, we hadn’t separated legally or financially at that time but I knew our relationship was over. I had no choice than to leave you. It was over.

I also knew there was so much to sort out. What was that feeling?  Bewilderment? Fear? Regret? Excitement? A new future…almost in reach?  Confusion? Sadness? All of it…

Sure, our relationship was far from harmonious – some people didn’t even know we were on the rocks. When the end did finally come, we were as shocked as everyone else. [Guardian, UK votes to leave after dramatic night divides nation]

Initially perhaps I was still in denial. Couldn’t we still make it work? What about all the good times – all the things that we have in common. Our fisheries! Our agricultural policy! Maybe it was just a phase.  Maybe we could still change our minds [BBC News, Brexit Ruling: UK can cancel decision, EU court says].

Maybe with third party help, we could get through. We did try to renegotiate our terms, to fix what was broken. But you just couldn’t change. [The Independent, What Cameron wanted – and what he really got]

It’s tough that only one of us made the call to break up, and it’s fair to say that this has made reaching a divorce agreement a slow and painful process.  Our lives have been intertwined for so long that it’s hard to picture going it alone. I’m scared. I don’t have a choice now as I’ve made the decision. I can’t turn back.  I’m nervous yet I’m making myself feel better with thoughts of a clean break, new opportunities, and a fresh start. No more shared responsibilities… the freedom to make new relationships – it’s all in sight! Or is it?

We are still so entangled. We live and work so close to each other that we’ll still have to be neighbours, and cross each other’s paths a lot. Sure, we’ll put the kids first and share custody. Our financial responsibilities to each other still have to be fulfilled [Financial Times, Brexit Divorce Deal]. We’ve made contributions to each other in different ways over the years. It doesn’t end just because I have stopped loving you

But maybe it’s better this way. Staying at arms’ reach. Over time, perhaps our relationship will flourish with a new mutual respect for each other. We’ll have space. We can spend time with other people. After all, I’ve always considered myself a ‘free trade agreement’ kind of a guy [David Davis in Conservative Home].

Yet I worry that this isn’t going to be the clean break I thought I wanted. We like the same things. I stopped loving you but we like doing a lot of the same stuff. What if we still want to go to the same places on holiday?  Can I still use your parents’ house in St Tropez? Can we make these things work even if we are not together? [Independent, Brexit Travel Advice]

Perhaps we should let the lawyers sort it out. I feel safer letting them take control, but it is expensive and I am worried I won’t be fully in control of the decision making process. I’ve heard such good things about dispute resolution options. It doesn’t have to be hostile. We can learn a thing or two about @ResFamilyLaw (www.resolution.org.uk) approach to conflict resolution. Should we mediate (www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk)?

Okay. So now we’re talking. We are looking at options and we are striking a deal. The negotiations have been long and hard. I feel worn out. I started out so tough yet now… everything you’re asking for… maybe you should just have it. Okay, I’ll admit it. I do feel a sense of culpability, leaving you like this. When we initially sat down and wrote a budget together, I was part of the household [Financial Times, Brexit Divorce Deal].  I know my responsibilities and I am prepared to deliver. For the next few years I’ll still have to contribute my share as if I had never left. And I’ll give a lump sum too, just for good measure. I have to make amends. I feel it’s all my fault.

But now there’s a backlash. My family aren’t happy. They say I’ve given too much away! Everyone is rejecting our deal. My Irish family are threatening to walk out, [The Guardian, DUP Threaten Sabotage] even though I’ve paid their bills for the next 5 years. But the house will fall down without their support… I need them to keep up the numbers, or it’s just me and the kids [BBC, Hung Parliament].

My financial planner says I’ll be poorer without you, and there’s much uncertainty ahead [Evening Standard,Britain will be poorer].  But there’s no turning back: I’ve made up my mind.

Time has passed. It is taking too long, we couldn’t come to an agreement and asked the court to decide. It’s cost me so much so far and I know there is more to come but we just don’t seem to be able to come to an agreement.  I’m told this is the ‘only’ way if we can’t agree and yet I am still so scared. I feel helpless and at sea. I’ve taken a path and I have to follow it.

The day of final judgment looms.  If we don’t reach an agreement by 21stJanuary [Financial Times, Brexit Timeline] the court will decide. I’m told that neither of us are bound to be happy if we have to get someone else to decide for us.  No one said this was going to be easy [BBC News, EU Trade deal ‘easiest in human history’ says Fox].

I feel we have to get back to the negotiating able. Is it too late? Could we try another face-to-face meeting to try and salvage something? [CNN, EU tells May the deal is not up for renegotiation] That’s got to be a lot better than someone making a final decision for us.

Is it too late to try another process like arbitration www.ifla.org.uk? My advisors tell me it’s the future of conflict resolution when all else has failed. So much more efficient than court, all the technical skills, nowhere near the cost and a speedy decision that we both have to abide by. Why didn’t we try that sooner to save all this pain and cost?

I’m a mess. I’m broke. It’s cost me so much. I felt in charge and now I don’t know which way to turn.

Why won’t you answer my calls?

Helping Children Deal with Separation

Separation and children

If you have experienced relationship breakdown, you will know how hard it can be. For a child, experiencing their parents separating can be equally  upsetting and confusing.  As family lawyers, sadly we see situations every day where children are struggling to cope with their parents’ divorce.  What can parents do to help?

The most important thing for children to know is that both their parents love them and that will not change just because they are not together anymore.

For almost every child, it will be the case that they will be happier now and in the future if they have had the benefit of a positive relationship with both of their parents. Parents can help with this by doing all they can to maintain a respectful relationship with the other parent.

Telling your child about your separation together can be a good place to start. This should reassure your child that you will still work together as parents, despite your differences.

Give your child information which is appropriate to their age and understanding. Children do not need to know about adult issues, including the details of exactly why you are choosing to end your relationship.

Many children will have lots of worries when they are told their parents are separating. Some of these will be about how things will change for them and some of them will be concerns for their parents, for example ‘where will daddy live’ and ‘will you be lonely if I am not there’.  Make sure your children know that can speak to both of you at any time about any worries they have and reassure them that everything will be ok as you as parents are working together to solve things.

As parents, it is vital you find a way to communicate with each other for your children’s benefit. If you are having problems with communication, consider whether a joint mediation meeting might help you discuss issues and come to joint decisions about your children’s care.  Some parents find it helpful to put together a parenting plan, which can include a summary of your children’s care arrangements, what you expect from each other as parents and how you will communicate about issues in the future.

If you have separated and want to discuss any issues concerning your children’s care arrangements and the time they will spend with their parents, please contact us.