Making the leap from being married or in a committed relationship to life as a single parent takes a lot of bravery. Getting a divorce with children involved in the equation is certainly not an easy step, but one that needs to be taken for the wellbeing of both parents and children. This is what Barb decided to do after 14 years married to the father of her child.
After a long period of unhappiness in her relationship, North London-based mother of one Barb summoned up the courage to separate from her husband.
‘The decision to split was made in March 2011 and we were officially separated by June,’ says Barb. Shortly after they sold the family home and it was at this point that Barbara broke the news to her son, then aged 13.
‘I was the one who told my son, his father was in the room as well but he didn’t speak,’ Barb recalls. ‘Our son knew that his dad and I’s relationship wasn’t brilliant, he knew it was going to happen. There was a big build up.
‘I told him that the house had been sold and we would be moving. Shortly after, my son and I moved into rented accommodation.’
Once the dust had settled, Barb and her ex-husband still found it difficult to get along. ‘There is still friction between me and him.’
Making childcare arrangements was particularly hard as Barb’s ex-husband would only go through their son to make plans. ‘He would only text my son to make arrangements, but certain things needed to be discussed between us – the parents – first.
‘I felt like he was putting too much responsibility on our son. I don’t agree with this way of doing things as it puts a strain on communication.’
Money was another big issue for Barb: ‘I had to fight for £5 a week for child maintenance. Occasionally he would contribute towards school uniform but as time went on he got worse and worse.’
Face-to-face mediation sessions seemed like a great opportunity to iron-out the childcare issues, but as Barb points out, getting her ex-husband to agree to a session is easier said than done: ‘He doesn’t like the thought of any kind of authority being involved. He thinks he can sort out everything himself.’
When visiting The Parent Connection, Barb found that all the issues she was facing as a separated parent were covered in the articles section: ‘I found articles on housing issues and meeting new partners, which were all appropriate for me,’ says Barb. ‘But the how to manage disagreements article was the most helpful, given my situation with my ex.’
If you are going through a situation similar to Barb’s, you can obtain more resources and support on theParentConnection.org.uk
By Calum Ross, editor, theParentConnection.org.uk
The Parent Connection is a free information & advice service for separated parents, run by relationship support charity. In addition, The Parent Connection offers two free online programmes: Getting It Right For Children and Splitting Up? Put Kids First which help parents to deal with conflict without putting the children in the middle and create an online co-parenting plan.