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Splitting up siblings post-divorce

The court is the upper guardian of minor children in a divorce situation, and is under a duty to ensure that the best interests of the children are at all times taken into account. Often clients express the wish to me that post-divorce the one parent takes care and primary residence of one of the children post-divorce, and the other parent takes care of the other child or children.

In one of my cases there were three children; aged fourteen, nine and four. The parties signed a consent paper where the man was awarded care of the two older children, and the lady care of the youngest child. The family advocate gave their stamp of approval, and so did the court.

The court acknowledged that in this particular case, the man had a good relationship with the older two children. He was furthermore better equipped financially to support them than his wife, who earned a small salary. He had his own business working from home and his flexible working hours gave him time to drop off the children at school and collect them, and take care to their daily needs.

The family advocate in this matter also found that the lady had a better relationship with the youngest child than the older two. They were of the opinion that the youngest child would be better off living with her mother than her father, taking into account that the child was still very young, and young children need to be more with their mother than their father.

In another matter of mine there were twin boys aged 11. It was an acrimonious divorce. The man had moved out of the matrimonial home and was living with his new girlfriend. At first, as per my instructions, my client's wife had refused him contact to the children at all.

After a few months of being separated, the parties agreed that the one boy reside with his mother and the other with his father. The one boy had a better bond with his father and the other with his mother. The boy living with his mother apparently looked like her and got on better with her. The boys had different personalities.

On going to court, the court did not accept that this arrangement was in the best interests of the two children, and the court requested a family advocate investigation. This was the correct decision.
The family advocate investigation found that it was not in the best interests of the children to be split up in this case. Even though the boys had different personalities, they still had a good bond and should not be split up. The man was awarded primary care, with the lady's contact every second weekend to the boys.

Another factor in determining that the boys live with their father primarily, was that he had moved on in his life and had a healthy relationship with another lady. His wife was still single and as per my instructions suffered with her temper and ability to control the children.

On my client's version, on one occasion when his wife was looking after both boys she had demanded that my client collect one of the boys after he had slammed a door. This was after that boy had been in her care for only a few hours after it had been agreed that he spend the whole weekend at her residence. The court found this to be unacceptable.

Each case is different and only in exceptional circumstances should the children be allowed to be spilt up post-divorce. Children have the right to live and grow up with their siblings post-divorce. Even if their parents don't want to them to live together, this does not mean that they should be deprived of the opportunity to live and grow up with their sibling(s).

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