picture of a a happy dad and his two children

Father's Day after divorce: tips from a family law expert as over 100,000 new cases filed

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)* just under 3 million households across the UK are headed by a single parent, accounting for 15% of all families. 

Government data** has revealed that 23,517 divorce applications were made between October and December 2023. Annually, 110,770 divorce applications were filed throughout last year, while a total of 103,501 final orders were granted. 

Many families across the UK will therefore be navigating their first Father’s Day following a large shift in living circumstances and family dynamics. 

With this in mind Bhini Phagura at Rayden Solicitors, experts in family law arbitration, has provided guidance for separated parents ahead of Father’s Day, and tips for any fathers facing their first without the kids. 

Tips for families navigating Father’s Day following a divorce

  1. Plan in advance 

One of the first things to remind yourselves of will be whether your contact arrangements have been made through a mutual agreement or a court order. With either of these methods used throughout divorce proceedings, agreements for occasions such as Father’s Day may have been documented in a ‘parenting plan’ or a Child Arrangements Order which will typically include provisions for special occasions such as these. 

We’d recommend taking a look at these documents to see what they entail and be respectful in reminding the person you are co-parenting with of this. 

  1. Communicate openly

Experiencing the breakdown of a relationship can be an overwhelming and distressing ordeal. Nevertheless, it is crucial to prioritise effective communication with your child's other parent when they are involved.

To streamline communication, consider utilising a dedicated email address. This approach allows you to consolidate all communication into one medium, and you will then have the autonomy to decide how often you check it. 

Another helpful option that many families have found beneficial is maintaining a contact diary that travels with your child between homes. This diary enables each parent to jot down any pertinent information that would be useful for the other parent to know.

  1. Consider building new traditions

Traditions built on previous family dynamics may not be feasible this time around, and this can be a difficult thing to accept. However, rather than viewing this as an obstacle, take this as an opportunity to establish new traditions that you can carry with you into the future.

For example, if you usually organise a big family lunch out you could plan a smaller celebration as you begin to navigate new terrain, or a day out to explore new activities to embark on as a smaller unit. 

Approaching your first Father’s Day without the kids

For some, it may be the case that co-parents have struggled to come to a mutual agreement due to disagreements or conflicting schedules. If this is the case, and you are experiencing your first Father’s Day without your child/children, consider the following:

  • Take a break from social media: It can be a difficult time to be active on social media if you are experiencing spending the day without your child for the first time. Shifting your focus from Facebook and Instagram updates will enable you to take some space from the situation, and process your thoughts healthily.
  • Focus on the things you can do and the time you have: Although you may not be able to spend the day with your child, it is important to remind yourself of the time you do have together and make the most of this when it comes around.
  • Accept that it is challenging and remember to respect each other: The first celebration following a divorce is likely to be difficult, as you are both navigating uncharted territory. Remember to be patient and respect each other during this process.

Bhini Phagura, Associate Solicitor at Rayden Solicitors says:

“Whilst this is a special time of the year for fathers who are looking forward to celebrating with their family and children, there are some who will find these special times of the year particularly difficult after separation or divorce.

Following separation or divorce, parents can agree on how long children should spend with each parent and on which days of the year. Such arrangements can take into account special days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and holidays. However, this can be a big task for parents who are not on amicable terms.

If matters can be resolved amicably, then this is beneficial to all but unfortunately, this sometimes is not the case. 

If the parents cannot reach an agreement between themselves, they can also consider attending mediation. This is a cheaper alternative than going to court and the mediators can help the parties reach an agreement.”


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