'My mum and dad separated when I was just two years old so I don't really remember it well. However since then I feel I have been very fortunate with how they have handled the situation. The most important thing is that they always would talk to each other and showed respect to each other which I realise must have been hard at the time. They committed to live close to each other and until I was ten years old I split my time 50/50 between their homes. When my mother re-married years later the introduction of my step-dad was well handled, there was always respect and no-one has ever tried to replace my father. This is so important. My dad often comes to visit and stays for weeks at a time in my mums house. Separation is never ideal, and will always cause some damage, but I have a strong relationship with both my parents and I am grateful for the sacrifices they have made. I have many friends where their parents have broken up badly and I can see how severely they have been affected by this'.
Steve and his partner separated in the summer of 2012 when Ricky was one year old. They initially separated amicably with Steve looking after Ricky every alternate weekend and half the holidays. Things however took a turn for the worse the following year when Steve found a new partner and he found his fortnightly time with Ricky being restricted. A legal process followed to clarify arrangements but the court orders soon became ignored; indeed since 2015 there have been 39 individual hearings, and a contempt of court award. Despite the court orders, during this time Ricky and Steve's relationship has become increasingly restricted and damaged. Ricky feels he doesn't have permission to love his dad and is encouraged not to see his father. Indeed during 2020 Ricky only spent 13 days with Steve with no sleepovers. A once confident and carefree little boy, Ricky now exhibits signs of anxiety and needs involvement from a child psychologist to support him emotionally. Ricky is meeting milestones academically but is struggling to moderate his behaviour, which has resulted in his school contacting the parents regarding their concerns.
Sally and Greg separated in 2009 with children aged 10, 7 and 3. At this point
they both made commitments that had the children's welfare and security at heart. They took the decision
to remain living together for a further 4 years. They have always remained amicable as friends and have
tried to show that to their children. They have managed all financial arrangements between them and work
together to stay consistent in their parenting. It's not been easy, especially at the start but over 10
years later they feel that have made the right decisions for their children.
'The earlier years were harder as we found our new "normal" but we now speak every day and make joint decisions about all of the things relating to the kids. We have faced a number of issues over the years including, a cancer diagnosis for me, a heart attack for Greg and some difficult times with our middle son who was late diagnosed with ASD. We have tried to work together through all of this and whilst there have been lumps and bumps in the road, we value the importance of a strong relationship for the kids with both parents.'
Ellie and Alan took the sad decision to separate just over a year ago so things
are very raw and divorce proceedings have not even begun yet. They have four young children and have been
married for 14 years, and together for 20, having met at university. They are both incredibly sad about
the outcome and have made the active choice to separate without recrimination. They live apart, but close
together, in the same town and are pursuing a shared parenting approach.
'In spite of the inevitable pain and discomfort, our focus this year has always been on maintaining a family structure where our children feel loved and supported. The parents promise is a major part of that. We are their parents. We will always be a family and the adult thing to do is to show them that we can divorce with love and compassion and not make them choose between us. Our family may look different but there is certainly just as much love - and that will never change'
'I do remember the happy times but those memories are now hurtful to recall. For
a few years, everything seemed fine, normal, contented. Husband, two boys and we had just started buying
our first house. At the time we separated, Sam, our eldest was 9 Joel just 6. Mark, my husband moved to a
flat just a few miles away and for the first few months before relocating down south. In truth, I think
his work wanted him to move to a new location. The boys would go and stay with him during school holidays
with my full blessing.
It happened gradually at first; my boys would spend longer and longer at their dads. They delayed coming back after their breaks there. Three years after the break-up, they simply didn't come home from the summer holiday. Their father had enrolled them to a school near him without telling me.'
'My mum and dad argued and blamed each other for everything. I was only 7 when they split up. It made me really sad and wasn't what I wanted. Mum would sometimes stop me from seeing my dad. This would be when she was unhappy with things that he had done. He would sometimes not come and pick me up or be late and I would get upset so mum would argue with him and not let me see him. However I did want to see dad. I was upset because I didn't see him. Both mum and dad met new friends but didn't tell each other and didn't want me to tell either. There were lots of lies being told. I didn't like the lies but couldn't tell my mum or my dad how I felt. I didn't want to hurt them either, so I kept it to myself. It got so bad as time went by I was very anxious and started to struggle at school. Finally mum and dad went to see a mediator to try and help them. I also met the mediator. I told her how I felt. The mediator told me she could tell my mum and dad. I agreed to this but I wanted to be there when she did. I needed to know mum and dad had been told so that it could stop and understand how it upset me.'
*name(s) changed to protect identity