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Separation: The Impact on Children


Prior to a separation, the family unit may have seen two parents providing financial, physical and emotional support to the children. The children may have interacted with both parents on a daily basis. The parents may have had support from the other parent, in the care of the children, running errands and assistance with the day to day mundane household tasks, such as hanging out a load of washing or cooking dinner. Assumably, both parents also directed the entirety of their income for payment of the family’s everyday living expenses; in addition to potentially family holidays and entertainment. Then, separation occurs. The way in which the family unit operates can change substantially overnight.

One parent may move out. The children’s time with a parent is reduced or cut off. The parent who has primary care of the children may be stressed at the increased work load of caring for the children and undertaking solely the tasks to run the household. There is also obviously the emotional impact the separation has on the family unit. All members of the family will be going through different stages of grief following the separation.

The impact of the changes to the family unit post separation on children could be positive and negative.

It would be positive for the children to have limited time with a parent (or have safety measures in place) if that parent put the children’s or other family members safety or wellbeing at risk. It is also positive for the children if the separating parents sit down to actively discuss the ongoing parenting arrangements for the children, what is in their best interests and develop a cooperative relationship (compared with the parents not communicating whilst their relationship was “intact”).

As a family lawyer, I often am asked to assist those families to come to a resolution, where private discussions between the parents have broken down, with a view that the negative impacts on children are hoped to be alleviated. Such negative impacts include the children not having a meaningful relationship with both parents without valid basis, parents not providing sufficient financial support, the children being exposed to family violence as a consequence of the separation or the children generally are socially disadvantaged.

Image Credit – Tatiana Kostareva © 123RF.com

Written by Kate Marr on June 11, 2017

She has a passion for helping people with their family law problems. She has special expertise in complex financial matters where her commerce background provides her with an an advantage in dealing with cases involving hidden assets, non-disclosure, overseas assets and family businesses. View Kate's profile


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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100