When a relationship breaks down often one of the most contentious issues is the arrangements for any minor children of the family. Any disagreements often cause significant distress and anxiety to parents and can in turn impact negatively on the children. It is important to ensure these issues are resolved as quickly as possible, minimising the emotional and financial cost for you.
Alternatives to Court
It is important to understand that the court does not always need to be involved and there can be effective alternatives to court applications such as mediation and collaborative law. Understanding your options early on, identifying the right path to resolution quickly and narrowing the issues so the opportunity to bring about an agreed resolution is not lost are all crucial.
Considerations if You Need a Court Order
In those cases where resolution by agreement is not possible it will be necessary to consider making an application to the court for an order to be made pursuant to the Children Act 1989. The orders the court can make include:
- Child arrangements orders – we no longer refer to residence and contact but instead an order that determines with whom the child is to live and or spend time with
- Prohibitive Steps Order – an order preventing a parent from taking certain action such as changing a child’s school or moving a child abroad
- Specific Issue Order – dealing with a specific issue such as permission for a foreign holiday or to remove a child permanently to live abroad.
When deciding such applications the court’s paramount consideration will be the child’s welfare and there is a prescribed list of issues the court should consider when dealing with an application as listed below:
- The children’s wishes and feelings having regard to their age and understanding
- The needs of the child
- The effect any change if circumstance is likely to have on the child
- The age, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
- Any harm the child may suffer or be at risk of suffering and
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child needs.
Grandparents and Extended Family
It is often assumed that other family members may be unable to see or spend time with children in the event of a relationship breakdown. This is not the case and the courts support children’s right to a relationship with not only their parents but also members of their extended family.
As specialist solicitors with significant experience dealing with such issues we are able to provide you with the best advice to ensure that you can make an informed decision about how you want to bring about a solution to the issue of the arrangements for your children.