If you are going through a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership and you have children with your partner there are a few things to consider to ensure you are safeguarding your children’s future and putting in place boundaries and guidelines for you and your partner to follow in terms of responsibilities. Family law solicitors can help you in this situation.
Agreeing to Arrangements Regarding Your Children
Wherever possible it is always in the best interests of the children, and the partners who are separating, to agree to arrangements with each other. If this isn’t possible, mediation is a good route to go down, with clear transparency and a safe, honest place to discuss all situations.
Some of the things you must consider might end up being taken to court for a judge to decide. This will only take place if you have been unable to agree to a decision with the help of a mediator, unless a case involved domestic abuse where it can be taken straight to court. These include where your children will live, how much time the children will spend with each parent, and who will pay child maintenance.
If a mediator has not been able to help you come to an agreement with your partner you must fill out a form that demonstrates this, and then apply for a court order. There are a number of court orders available to you, and you can apply for a single order, or multiple depending on the aspects of your children’s lives you have not been able to agree on.
Child Arrangements – This order will decide where your child lives, how much time is spent with each parent and which other types of contact are allowed and for how long, including phone calls etc.
Those parents already with residence orders and contact orders need not apply for a child arrangement order.
A Specific Issue Order – If there is a specific aspect of your child’s upbringing that you can’t agree on with your partner, such as which school they should attend, you can apply for a court to assist you in making that decision.
Prohibited Steps Order – This order prevents your partner from making a decision about your child.
The mother or father of the child in question can apply for court orders. Grandparents can also apply but must first gain permission from the court to do so.
The Process After Application
Once the court order has been applied for the court will arrange a directions hearing where the judge or magistrate will attempt to make a decision on your circumstance and ascertain whether the child is at risk. If you agree, a consent order will be made, setting out the agreement.
If no agreement is made, a timetable will be set by the court, asking you to reach agreement within a certain timeframe, try family mediation once more, attend a course if there are contact issues and other processes before returning for the court to make the decision for you.
Your Child is Most Important to the Court
Whether you seek advice from a family law solicitors or seek to agree terms on your own, remember that your child comes first. If your situation results in court action the judge will always take into account the child’s wishes, their physical, emotional and educational needs, possible risk to the child, ability of each parent to meet needs and other important factors.