Separation and divorce can be a challenging and upsetting time for all involved. But even though the relationship between the adults has ended, their role as parents has not ended. It is important to make sure children get the support that they need.

Divorce is a process which children have no choice but to participate in. What children are told and, more significantly, the consideration given to their emotional as well as physical needs, has a very important impact on their recovery and future psychological development.

The challenges for older children

The 1970’s culture of “staying together for the sake of the kids” seems to have given a rise in the number of young adults seeing their parents separate. It is often believed that adult children will somehow manage divorce better. From our experience, children of different ages (and gender) react differently.

Upon dealing with the break-up of their family, older children also face a bewildering challenge to their own identity, as their solid family unit disappears and leaves them having to reappraise themselves, rethink their future, and perhaps their past too. This only adds to the stress of an already difficult time, while they work towards final exams at school or find their feet at university. In addition, they may be brought in as a confidante, judge or sounding board by a parent.

The law

After separation, it is often the case that parents cannot agree as to who is responsible for care of the children. Where there is a dispute about a child’s future, the parents can go to court and obtain a Child Arrangement Order to resolve any disagreement. But, once a child is sixteen, the court will not make such an order, unless the circumstances are “exceptional”.

As far as financial arrangements are concerned, Child Maintenance will cease once they complete their secondary education to A-levels or equivalent. Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 can be used to make financial provision through the court for the children of unmarried parents when they separate. This can include lump sum payments for a house or car, payment of school fees, and payment of legal fees (to help parents who have no other means to pursue a claim). The parent could also apply for the transfer of property. Usually, the property is not transferred outright to them, but they are provided with rent free housing during the child’s minority. Generally, the house reverts back to the other parent, once the child reaches majority.

Myerson’s experienced team of family law solicitors are experts in dealing with matters concerning children. We understand that what is right for one family, may not be right for another. If you require advice as to your practical and legal options, then contact us on 0161 941 4000 or email us at