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 Brighton, London, Horsham, Kent, Essex, North 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.