Whilst Mother’s Day is a special day for many parents and children, for separated or divorced parents it can present further challenges.
Upon divorce or separation, it is advisable for parents to seek advice from professionals to determine arrangements for their children. Where possible parents should agree who the children will live with, and how much time they should spend with the other parent – including arrangements for special occasions.
Arrangements for special occasions
In circumstances where parents are able to agree an arrangement for contact, problems can occur if the arrangement sees the children spending Mother’s Day with the father, rather than the mother. Flexibility is key; the courts would expect to see parents prioritising the needs to the children and it is unlikely to be considered child focused to adopt a rigid approach.
For example, in circumstances where children spend alternate weekends with their father and Mother’s Day falls on the father’s weekend, it would be considered reasonable – and in the child’s best interests – for the children to spend the Sunday with their mother, so that the children can see her on Mother’s Day. Clearly, the converse will apply equally to Father’s Day.
Planning ahead is key to avoid conflict. If agreement is not possible then mediation is a more cost-effective option to consider. If your child is old enough to express their wishes and feelings, listen to what they want when negotiating arrangements.
Safeguarding your children
As a last resort, the parents can make an application to the court for a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) which will also specify arrangements for special occasions. This sets out exactly when contact should take place, taking into account the child’s welfare and any practical matters. Ultimately, the court will be on the side of the child and what’s in their best interests. It is extremely common practice for a CAO to specify that Mother’s and Father’s Days are spent with the relevant parent. This should be borne in the mind when considering arrangements.
The key is to put the children first, as they are likely to benefit from spending the special day with their mother. In the event of conflict, early advice is crucial.