Often the most difficult part of a separation is deciding how to split your children’s time between yourselves. Child contact is unfortunately a common argument between couples when they end their relationship however Jacksons can offer guidance and assistance in relation to agreements and preferred contact.
In April 2014, the Child Arrangements Programme was brought into force to direct negotiation and agreement between the parents wherever possible. The court’s paramount consideration is the child’s best interests and therefore it is best to resolve issues as quickly and amicably as possible so as not to disrupt the child’s routine or stability.
If parties cannot agree then they may need to commence court proceedings to help decide what is best for the children and the court has the power to make the following orders:
- Child Arrangements Order. A Child Arrangements Order has replaced and combined Residence and Contact Orders and can set out with whom a child should live, spend time or otherwise have contact with. It can be granted to more than one person and can either be direct e.g. face to face or indirect e.g. by exchange of letters or cards.
- Specific Issue order which deals with specific issues such as schooling or other one-off issues such as consent to non-urgent medical treatment.
- Prohibited Steps order is used to prevent how a parent exercises his/her Parental Responsibility, e.g. to prohibit a parent taking a child abroad.
- Parental Responsibility Order – giving a person who is not a parent of the child legal status as a parent – which means that person has a legal duty.
- Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders, can often involve emergency court applications to maintain the status quo until the court has had an opportunity of investigating matters.
Jacksons understand that the court arena is a very daunting and intimidating process therefore we attempt to settle matters through negotiation if possible and advise on all possible avenues. If parents cannot agree then we would refer them to a mediator to attempt to resolve matters. Before making a court application it is now compulsory to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) unless there is a sufficient reason why you are exempt from doing so.
If you would like any further advice on disputes over children or any Family Law matter pelase contact a member of the Family Law team.