If you live apart from, or are separated from, the other parent of your child or children, this can give rise to difficult issues over where the child or children should live and how often your child or children should see the other parent.
Sometimes a discussion with us and advice as to what is normal might be sufficient to help you resolve matters.
If not we can write to the other parent on your behalf or alternatively we can discuss whether using mediation will be a sensible and cost effective way to deal with the matter. We will be able to explain to you what this involves.
We are aware, however, that children arrangements can sometimes be the most difficult of matters to resolve and if necessary we can assist you in making a court application.
If so, we can help complete the application forms and explain the procedures that the local court follows so you know what to expect. We can also come to court with you and represent you in any hearings that take place.
Child Arrangement Orders
A recent change in legislation means that the old terms of ‘Residence Orders’ and ‘Contact Orders’ (and the even older terms such as ‘custody’ and ‘access’) have been replaced by Child Arrangements Orders.
Quite properly, the starting point in all questions relating to children is that their welfare is always paramount. The question is therefore what is in the best interests of the child or children – but we appreciate that can be difficult for parents to agree upon.
Specific Issues and Prohibited Steps
As well as the question of where the children should live, specific issues can arise which can cause disagreement and require the court’s intervention.
Which school the children should go to is an example. Another difficult area is if one parent wishes to move away from the area, possibly even to another country. This could have a significant effect on the visiting arrangements that the children have with the other parent and such a move may or may not be in the children best interest. If necessary, the court can be asked to make a decision as to whether or not such a move is to be allowed.
If both parties are married they will automatically have parental responsibility of their children, but if they are not married the situation is not always clear cut. We can explain what this means and advise as to whether parental responsibility can be obtained.
Grandparents and the wider family
Another difficult issue is when the separation of the parents has resulted in the children’s grandparents no longer seeing their grandchildren.
The Court may consider it is in the best interestes of a child to have a relationship with their wider family and may make provision for grandparents to see the children.
We can advise you on your situation and the steps to be taken.