Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich
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Introducing Kids Come First

July 2017 - Issue 4

Couples seeking to end their relationship experience separation and divorce first and foremost as an emotional issue but one which has legal and financial consequences.  There is a growing awareness amongst professionals working in the field that a multi-disciplinary approach which acknowledges the need for psychological and financial services as well as legal, is likely to be the most helpful for clients.  Collaboration between professionals gives the clients the best chance of building sustainable separation agreements that cater for specific needs of all the family members as they seek to re-build their lives with the minimum of acrimony. 

For those couples who have children the end of their relationship also means the break up of the family unit.  Whilst they might worry about the impact of this on their children, many parents are unsure how best to approach the subject with them. An ongoing conflict between the couples as they try to come to terms with the end of their relationship can often get in the way of them being able to work together effectively as parents, keeping their children’s needs upmost in their minds and prioritise these.

We know the children from broken families are statistically 5 times more likely to suffer damaging mental health problems than those living in the stable family environment.  The sooner separating parents can get professional help and advice to enable them to understand their children’s needs at the time of their impending breakdown of the family unit, the better the likely outcome for the children.

Couples invariably need not only advice, but emotional support to be able to put aside any negative feelings they may harbour towards their partner, so as to acknowledge the importance for their children of trying to ensure the possibility of them maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents following the separation.

Having advice on when and how to tell children what is going to happen, making a parenting plan which takes the children’s specific needs into account now and for the future, as well as establishing a means of communication post-separation that does not compromise the children’s wellbeing, all improve the chances of a more positive outcome.

Kids Come First is a non-profitable service based in South West London which aims to provide an accessible service for all separating and divorcing couples as early in the process as possible.  The goal is to increase the chances of them being able to explore and make use of the collaborative options that could be available to them.  This helps them avoid becoming involved in judicial disputes that could detract from them being able to focus on their family at the time when the children need them the most.

Kids Come First uses a workshop approach to increase parental awareness and understanding of their children’s needs, based on an improved recognition of the meaning of their emotional reactions and behaviour, and their developmental age.  They provide a practical tool kit for future focussed, more positive co-parenting and importantly Kids Come First facilitates the development of networks for ongoing support through linking parents in the same area.  Both parents are encouraged to attend but do not need to be in the same group.  The programme provides structured customised support and advice for parents, which boosts their confidence as they make the transition into becoming separated parents, with clear benefits for the children.  Kids Come First also provides information about other services in the locality, and works in close co-operation with a wide range of other professionals making referrals for additional interventions if needed. 

Although this service is based in South West London, Kids Come First is already beginning to make the model available nationally through franchise agreements sharing their material and offering training to those in other localities on how to deliver the service.  The availability of a service like this early in the separation process can facilitate the engagement of couples in a more collaborative approach or enable them to mediated more effectively, helping them to confirm a parenting plan and/ or reach financial and legal agreements more quickly.  For those interested in putting children first in their divorce process further information is now available from www.kidscomefirstuk.co.uk or via email kidscomefirst@mail.com .  Kids Come First was founded by Nicola Withycombe and Steph Fattorini.

Sylvia Duncan

Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist

The Ashwood Practice

Stonemason’s Court

Cemetery Pales, Brookwood

Woking, Surrey

01483 487979



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