Tag Archives: separation

Divorce and Pets?

Divorce and Pets?

A common question asked nowadays on divorce is not about the children but more who gets to keep the dog?

For many families the pet dog is an integral part of family life. So what happens when the marriage breaks down?

Surprisingly the law in England & Wales is that a pet will be treated as an item of personal property such as a piece of furniture, artwork or jewellery. The solution to the dispute can come down to as simple as who paid for the purchase of the pet. This can however seem very unfair where the other person has perhaps spent the majority of their time caring for the said pet.

Often the arguments of the pet can be emotive and lead to the pet being used as a bargaining chip. There is also the financial aspects of a pet (for example vets costs, food etc., and in cases of horses the livery costs etc can be significant). Shared care is rarely seen as practical and a Court is unlikely to be embroiled into an argument over contact. Whilst a party having day to day care over a pet may have some sway often legal ownership will prevail in the majority of cases.

It should be noted however that a recent case in Alaska in January 2017 may pave the way of a change to a welfare based approach to pet ownership similar to that of the care of children. We will need to watch this space to see whether this impacts significantly on English Law.

For further advice or information on this please contact Fiona Pawsey on 01202 877400.

Coping With a Broken Relationship on Christmas

One of the hardest things for families to cope with is Christmas. It is an emotive time of the year particularly for separated families with young children. Each parent will want to have their children with them on Christmas Day and, as we all know, sometimes that is simply impossible. This can be due to something as simple as logistics of travel depending on the distance, or in the alternative one parents view of “we have always had Christmas with my parents and so the children should be with me”.

When it comes to Christmas and separated families sadly the whole issue of who should have what can become contentious and at this time of year it is not uncommon to see the Court’s lists full of applications for contact for children. Parents need to consider that contact is for the benefit of the child, rather than the parent. It is the child’s right to have a full and good relationship with both parents and the only way that this can happen is if Mum and Dad can communicate constructively and be prepared to compromise. The Court’s position on Christmas and New Year is that it should alternate between the parents and that on the year that one parent has the New Year then they celebrate their Christmas at that point. If you ask a child who they want to spend Christmas with, probably in the first instant they would say with you both. Pragmatically however, as long as they get to see you they don’t really mind and hey they get to celebrate Christmas twice – which to any child is pretty fantastic. What they won’t thank you for is arguing and causing upset (which then makes them potentially have to choose sides).

Conflict between parents is known to significantly impact on children’s abilities to form relationships in the future and this is not what any parent should want for their child. If you are struggling with this then there are many ways forward. The first and most pragmatic is to try to sit down and talk reasonably, being aware that compromise is necessary for your children’s welfare. If you don’t think that would work, then mediation (which is where you and your former partner/spouse can sit down with a trained mediator who will help you to compromise things). The final alternative is to seek help from lawyers and the Court, being very much aware that a Court ultimately may make an order that neither of you will be happy with.

If you need further help and advice then please don’t hesitate to contact our Family Team on 01202 877400 or family@newnham-jordan.co.uk – because your family matters to us and we are here to help.

Coping With a Broken Relationship on Christmas
Children and Divorce: Helping your child

Children and Divorce: Helping your child

When you’re getting divorced or separating with your partner and your children don’t know about it, you ask yourself when is a good time to tell them, how do you tell them and what their reaction would be when you tell them.

They will probably react worse than you realise. Some of the questions they’ll be asking themselves are “Why won’t my parents talk to me? Where will I live? Where will I go to school? Is all this my fault?”

It is important that everyone in the family’s voice is heard and allowed to express their feelings as how people feel may vary from person to person. In times of change, remember the ones who are constant in your family’s lives – grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends – can be a strong emotional support.

Children and young people often don’t know how to express their feelings, and as a result can display quite a challenging behaviour at times.

It is important to take time to look past the behaviour to try to find out the underlying cause of their unhappiness, in order to provide them with the help that they need.

How to manage conflict and changes:

  • Communication is of vital importance when sorting out any differences within the family. If your children refuse to talk to you, there may be another adult they can talk to.
  • Try to have a consistent approach and set age appropriate boundaries, but also listen to what your child is saying and how they are feeling.
  • Listen carefully and let the child know you have understood what they have said and know how are they feeling.
  • Let everyone have his/her say and be prepared to compromise if possible.
  • Even though you may not all agree, you can still try to find a way to resolve any disagreements without shouting or smacking. Children can learn a lot from the way conflict is resolved in their family.

The impact of Separation and divorce on children

The impact of divorce and separation on children is a major concern for many parents. Although there’s children who adjust to the circumstances, there are many others who find it very hard.

For those involved, it is vitally important, if possible, that communication between parents is normal for the sake of the child. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to someone who can act as a mediator in difficult circumstances.

Within all families, whether you are trying to bring up your children with a partner or on your own, good communication is essential whatever the circumstances.

Helping your children:

  • Remember the importance of listening to your children
  • Respect their feelings and keep in mind that they may be different from yours
  • Emphasise that what is happening is not their fault
  • Expect a change in behaviour for a time
  • Reassure them that you haven’t changed your feelings towards them
  • Keep them informed on the current situation
  • Involve them in family decisions but not in arguments
  • Involve outside agencies for additional support and mediation (if appropriate)
  • Inform the school your child studies at about the separation/divorce
  • Find support for yourself as well


You can visit www.cafcass.gov.uk for more information on how you can help your child through a divorce.