Arrangements for children
A common feature of relationship breakdown is disputes around the time children should spend with each parent, their schooling, religion or health and well-being. There can be different views on whether a child should be taken out of the country on holiday or where the child should live, whether in this country or further afield.
Care of your child or children may be shared, and you may agree a voluntary ‘parenting plan’ to cover these arrangements. If decisions on child arrangements cannot be agreed informally between parents, they can be decided by a Court. However, before filing Court proceedings, parents are normally expected to try a form of dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law, unless there are emergency issues. Arbitration is also available to sort out disputes in relation to children.
The law on child arrangements is based on the ‘welfare principle,’ which means that Courts will always consider what is in the best interests of the child as paramount. Generally it is presumed that it will be in the child’s best interests to spend time with both parents, unless there is a very serious welfare issue and risk of harm. Court cases often involve the appointment of a specialist social worker to report to the Court on the family’s unique circumstances.
In emergency situations, it may be necessary to apply for an urgent Court Order in respect of your child or children. For example, where there is a risk of a child being removed from the country without your consent, or an urgent medical issue. These applications can be made in an expedited fashion where necessary. However, it is unusual for Courts to grant orders without hearing from the other parent first.
How can we help?
Parents often find legal advice helpful in relation to these issues, and we are able to offer support if you are experiencing difficulties agreeing child arrangements, or if you have received court papers. We offer mediation services, collaborative law and round table options to resolve child-related disputes. If your case requires an urgent application to Court we can assist and guide you through the litigation process.
We are experienced in working for both parents as well as step-parents. We also advise and support grandparents where they wish to spend time with their grandchildren.
You may find our blog articles, including 'Getting a Divorce - A Helpful Guide', 'Divorce - 5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)' and 'How To Tell Children About Divorce or Separation: 10 Tips' of further interest.
Our Family Law team can advise on arrangements for children so please get in touch if you would like to find out more.