Money can’t buy you love – so don’t use it as a weapon over the children
There is a long established principle that when parents separate, the arrangements for the children should be worked out by reference to what is best for the children. Unfortunately, there are times when other factors, such as money issues, take centre stage and affect the way those decisions are made.
Generally, the issues that need to be decided include with which parent the children should live and how much time they should spend with the other parent. Very often this arrangement involves the mother living with the children and the father moving out of the family home.
In these circumstances, the father may be required to provide financial support to the mother. But what happens if the father loses his job and can no longer afford that support? What the mother should not do is say to the father that he cannot see the children whilst he is unable to provide financial support. This may seem obvious but this scenario does, from time to time, arise.
The other side of the coin is, of course, a father who says that he will reduce the financial support that he provides unless the mother agrees to the level of contact that he wants. In both cases, financial issues are being used to force one of the parents into making a decision for the children that bears no reference to what is best for them. As might be expected this approach to children issues is frowned upon by the family court, which will take a dim view of any parent who uses this tactic to get what they want.
What can a parent do if they find that their former partner is using this tactic?
The first step would be to try to discuss the issue with them and explain that the arrangements for the children should be worked out by reference to what is in their best interests. If you are concerned that your former partner will not listen to you, you could suggest that you attend mediation in the hope that hearing the view of a mediator, as to how the court will decide their dispute, will help your former partner realise that their approach is inappropriate.
Finally, as a last resort you can, of course, make an application to the court for a child arrangements order following which the court will decide the issues for you and will help you to enforce it, if necessary.
Whilst court proceedings should be used as a last resort, a parent should not be slow in taking this step where they feel that there is little prospect of a sensible agreement being reached within a reasonable period of time. Children who do not see one of their parents for some time may, wrongly, feel that the parent does not really care about them which may, in the case of younger children, cause emotional damage. In older children, this may cause resentment and anger against the parent that they are unable to see.