Child Arrangements Orders - Family Law Partners
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Child Arrangement Solicitors

When parents live together your children are with you all the time. When you separate or divorce, children will need to spend time with both of their parents separately, usually at different time and different days. This means that that there will be times that your children spend away from you, and will ultimately mean there is a period of adjustment for not only your children but for you and also the other parent which is not always easy.

Our child arrangement solicitors approach each of our cases with compassion and empathy, we have helped many families throughout the years and know that these situations can often feel overwhelming. You will find us to be a shoulder you can lean on during this difficult time, providing you with expert legal advice whilst also providing close personal support.

Child Arrangement Orders

Our child arrangement solicitors understand that deciding on the arrangements for your children after divorce can be highly emotional and difficult for everyone involved. We can guide and support you to achieve the best outcome for you and your children. Arrangements for children following divorce and separation are frequently referred to as ‘child custody’, however, many people will be surprised to know that there is no such legal term. Instead, following the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, the rhetoric has changed and such orders are now referred to as Child Arrangement Orders determine who children see and where they live.

So-called ‘child custody’ issues can become challenging for everyone involved, but they don’t need to be. After separation, when the hurt is raw, one parent may try to ‘punish’ the other parent by restricting or stopping that parent from seeing the children. Sadly, this hurts the children who should be encouraged to continue to have a relationship with both of their parents. Sometimes, children find it hard to be told all the negatives about their other parent because they may view that parent as a part of who they are.

Equally, when the children are there all the time it is taken for granted that they will always be there, for example, one parent works long hours. It is not unusual for a parent who was distracted before separation to be more focused and involved with their children after separation.

When it comes to divorce and children, the needs of the children have to come first. If the court needs to make the decision on custody the welfare checklist is used.

The welfare checklist ensures that the following ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned are considered, in light of his/her age and understanding:

  • His/her physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect of any change in his/her custody circumstances.
  • His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of him/her which the court considers relevant.
  • Any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
  • How capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs.
  • The range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

Both parents may want the children to live with them. Talking through the children’s daily needs and how both parents can meet them, perhaps in mediation or with a therapist, will help.

When deciding arrangements for children upon divorce or separation, the details around who they see and when can be one of the most contentious issues. After separation, it is not unusual to find it difficult when your ex-partner finds a new partner particularly if the relationship was the trigger for your relationship to end. It can be hard to put aside the hurt.

For the parent who is not living with their child, it is hard to accept that a new partner may see more of their child than they do. For the children, it can help if their parents can agree on when a new partner can be introduced. Until the relationship has lasted for at least a few months and is going to be long-term, the children don’t need to meet them. This is putting the children’s feelings first.

Introductions should be gradual, and it made clear that the new partner is not going to replace their parent.

Unless there is something worrying about the new partner, e.g. drug abuse, then the introduction of new partners cannot be stopped. However, it is important to think about the children’s feelings and not make the introduction too quick or intense.

If the new partner is living with the other parent, then there may be occasions when they will be involved in some aspects of childcare.

When you start living with a new partner, especially if their children live with you, and your children do not live with you full time, the children will appreciate you spending time with them without your new partner. This makes your children feel special.

Grandparents can be important to children and they may want to continue seeing their grandchildren particularly if they were previously involved with childcare.

Talking through the arrangements in mediation will give you as parents and the children time to adjust to the change in your family shape and the introduction of new partners.

Contact our child arrangements solicitors

If you would like an appointment with one of our specialist child arrangement solicitors in BrightonLondonHorshamKentEssexNorth Hampshire & Surrey or South/Mid Hampshire then please contact us on , or email us at [email protected]. Alternatively, you can use our contact form.

How can Family Law Partners help?

Family Law Partners is an award-winning team of divorce and family law solicitors. Unlike many other family firms, we can guide you towards a method of dispute resolution with the aim of saving you time and money – as well as ensuring the needs of the whole family (children especially) are met. We believe that cases involving divorce and children don’t have to mean upset and conflict, and our team of solicitors, mediators, collaborative lawyers and arbitrators can work with you to ensure the best outcome for you and your family.

Our child arrangement solicitors have specialised expertise in this area of the law and have helped many families come to amicable agreements about how their children should split their time between the two households. We will also be able to provide advice and guidance on child contact arrangements.

We have also represented many clients in court when agreements couldn’t be reached. No matter what your circumstances are, you can rest assured that we will support and guide you to protect the best interests of your children.

Answering common questions about divorce and children

Who gets custody of a child during divorce in the UK?

When children are involved in divorce and separation, the main priority of those involved with the cases (solicitors, mediators, the court) is always the welfare of the children. If where the children live cannot be decided amicably, then it may be that the court needs to make the decision on custody. However, we would always recommend mediation or the collaborative process is tried first to reduce conflict and resolve the issue. As we have seen above, the welfare checklist is used to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

How much does it cost to go to court for child custody uk

There are court fees associated with applying to the court for a child arrangements order, alongside the cost of any support or guidance you might need from a family law solicitor. When applying to the court for child custody, you will need to demonstrate that you have explored other options. Family mediation is often a must cheaper, and faster, way of agreeing arrangements for children without involving the expense (and emotional ‘cost’) of court.

How to apply for custody of a child

Instructing a family law specialist should be your first step. Those family lawyers who are trained and experienced in dispute resolution will ensure that you have first explored all options in terms of agreeing arrangements for your child (or children) amicably. If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on this, and need to apply to the court to decide and make an order, you will need to show that you have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment (called a MIAM) to at least consider mediation before you will be allowed to apply to court.

Who pays for costs in child custody cases?

With divorce and children cases, generally speaking each party is required to pay their own legal costs. However, in some rare circumstances it might be the case that one party can be ordered to pay the costs of the other if their conduct has been reprehensible or unreasonable. There is further information about who pays for child custody cases in our blog here.

Can mediation be used for children and divorce?

Yes. As a dispute resolution process, family mediation has at its heart the welfare of any children. Unlike the court process, mediation helps parents because any children aged 10 and above can have the opportunity to take part in the mediation process and have their voices heard.

What is a child arrangements order?

A child arrangement order is an order directly from the Court which outlines details such as where a child will live and how much time they will spend with each of their parents. These orders are legally binding.

Child arrangement orders prioritise the child’s wellbeing and are used to provide stability and clarity in the wake of the emotional upheaval of a divorce. Our child arrangement solicitors have extensive experience in this field and would be happy to help with any initial queries.

How long does it take to get a child arrangements order?

The process of obtaining a child arrangements order after divorce can depend on multiple factors. There are several stages to this process, beginning with mediation or negotiation between parents to reach an agreement.

The length of this stage can vary depending on how cooperative each party is. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can apply to the Court for a child arrangement order. Once the child arrangement order application has been filed, it can then take weeks or even months for an initial court hearing to be scheduled.

How long does a child arrangements order last?

Child arrangement orders that regulate a child’s living arrangements will ordinarily cease to have effect when the child turns 18. However, whilst a court could make an order up until the child is 18 in exceptional circumstances, this would be rare and in the majority cases once the child turns 16, Courts will not want to intervene and make a determination on where a child should live. However, if the situation around the child’s welfare or living arrangements changes then either parent or a concerned party can go to the court to submit an application to vary the child arrangements order.

When this happens, the court will then assess any new circumstances and decide on the necessary adjustments to protect the best interests of the child. It’s important to understand that the purpose of child arrangement orders is to ensure stability and clarity for the child’s living situation, but they can be changed when required.

Unfortunately, the court process can be lengthy for more complicated or contentious cases, involving several hearings and assessments in order to ensure the child’s best interests.

Contact our child arrangements solicitors

If you would like an appointment with one of our specialist child arrangement solicitors in BrightonLondonHorshamKentEssexNorth Hampshire & Surrey or South/Mid Hampshire then please contact us on , or email us at [email protected]. Alternatively, you can use our contact form.

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