One of the most difficult decisions parents face upon separation is who their children should live with and how often they should see the other parent. Child custody and contact can often lead to acrimonious arguments between parents who are going through a stressful separation.
Parents are of course responsible for their children’s wellbeing and ensuring they are safe at all times. However the law also has an interest in ensuring that children’s rights to have a relationship with both their parents are upheld.
If an agreement cannot be reached between the parents then it will be necessary for judicial intervention in the form of a child arrangements order. This is an order by the court that may direct who the children live with, when they see the other parent and for how long and even matters such as the parents rights in relation to the child’s education, name and travelling with the children.
Court’s will give great weight to the welfare principles set out in the Children Act 1989 that set out what factors should be considered when making decisions in relation to the children.
The Court’s will also take into consideration other factors such as who had the most significant role in caring for the children and who will remain in the family home and the other parent’s living conditions.
Depending on the children’s age they will also be given a say in the proceedings for the court to ascertain the children’s wishes and feelings.
There are times when parents are able to put aside their differences for the benefit of their children and agree who the children should live with and when they should see the other parent.
In circumstances such as these parents can prepare a parenting plan that sets out in a formal document each parents responsibilities, when contact should occur and for how long and how other decisions relating to the children should be made.
At Sterling Law we can assist with negotiating and drafting a parenting plan for either a fixed fee for simple cases or an hourly rate for more complex matters.
In these circumstances it will be necessary to follow the Child Arrangements Programme. This is a process set out by law in order to reach a fair and just resolution and ensure the best outcome is produced for the children.
This process will usually involve attending MIAM which is a programme intended to help mediate between parents.
Should no agreement be reached it will then be necessary to make a Child Arrangements Order application in the Family Courts to allow the Court to reach a decision.
Our Solicitors at Sterling Law are able to assist with all stages of the Child Arrangements Programme.