Creative Arrangements For Separating Families
Here Jo Harrison, one of FLiP’s Divorce Consultants and Individual & Relationship Therapists reflects on an episode she listened to on BBC’s Woman’s Hour on 19 October 2023. During the episode, parents were interviewed regarding their family set up after separation.
One of the things we hear often from our clients at FLiP is that it’s helpful to hear how other people have ‘done it’ when it comes to their family set up after separation so it caught our attention when we heard one family’s story on BBC’s Woman’s Hour last week – listen here for the full interview with Emma Barnett.
The parents whom Emma Barnett interviewed are Caroline and Neil. Caroline said that having seen her parents make ‘a dog’s breakfast of their divorce’ she didn’t want to do the same on her own divorce. This speaks to something we often see – that perhaps the only template of divorce that people have is of a less than positive one. When they decided to separate – a decision that they described in poignant and vivid terms “we never felt happier than when we admitted we weren’t happy” they initially rented a flat for one of them to be in while the other one was with the children. But this was expensive and didn’t feel like it was working. They then creatively tried to take turns to spend a night at a weekend in a hotel while the other one was with the children but they felt that too was not quite working and it made them just wish they were with their children. So what they eventually decided to do was to stay living together and work at making it work, conveying a way in which they were mutually respectful of each other’s decision to date other people. They are both now in new relationships and took it very seriously about how to introduce their partners to each other.
You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out the unusual arrangement they have now but it was a very positive story of parents working together to support what was best for their children and having a laugh together about their arrangements. As they put it, it’s a project they’ve been working on for over a decade and this encapsulates something we say a lot to parents which is that life after divorce as co-parents is a work in progress and we think their word project captures this.