September 13, 2021
For parents, the hardest part of a divorce often relates to issues surrounding their children. There are natural concerns over where they will live, how long they will spend with each parent and how they will adjust to the changes.
Agreeing arrangements for children
Ideally, you and your children’s other parent will agree on the new arrangements together. There will be a substantial number of decisions to be made and it can often seem daunting to know where to start. However, there is professional help available.
An experienced family law solicitor will be able to guide you as to the sorts of decisions that need to be made. Your solicitor will also be able to enter into negotiations with the other parent’s solicitor on your behalf if necessary. If it proves difficult to reach an agreement, the next step is usually mediation.
A neutral mediator will work with both parties to try and resolve contentious issues. If agreement can be reached, then the arrangements can be put before the Court who will set them out in a consent order.
The arrangements can cover anything the parents want. The following issues are often addressed:
- What time the child will spend with each parent;
- How the child will keep in contact with each parent while they are not together;
- What contact the child will have with other people, such as grandparents and new partners;
- Arrangements for holidays, to include time away;
- How decisions regarding education and healthcare will be made;
- Who will take the child to their activities;
- Who will pay maintenance and how much this will be;
- Who will pay any extra expenses, such as for extra-curricular activities and school trips.
Applying to the court for a child arrangements order
The courts prefer that parents reach an agreement between themselves, however, in some cases, this simply isn’t possible. It is usually a requirement that the parties attempt mediation, but if this fails, then a judge can be asked to make a child arrangements order. The court’s overriding priority is always the welfare of the children and any decisions that are made will be based on what is considered to be in their best interests.
The court will also take the view that a child should have a meaningful relationship with both parents unless there is a reason why this is not desirable. This means that an order is often made for joint residency.
There is no presumption that a child should live with their mother, although for practical reasons it is quite often the case that a child will spend more time living with their mother than their father, for example, if the mother has flexible working arrangements and is already taking on most of the care.
The court will consider a number of factors in deciding what order to make, including the following:
- The child’s wishes, in the light of their age and understanding;
- Their physical, emotional and educational needs;
- What effect any changes in routine might have on them;
- The child’s age, sex, background and any other relevant characteristics;
- Any risk of harm;
- How capable the parents are of meeting the child’s needs.
An order can specify a resident parent, with whom the child will spend the majority of their time and to whom maintenance will usually be paid. It can also detail when the child will see the other parent and where this contact will take place. It could be only in a public place or alternatively at the other parent’s home.
The order can also set out other methods of contact, such as phone calls, video links, emails or texts.
Dealing with changes in the time you will spend with your child after a divorce or separation can be extremely stressful. At Tayntons Solicitors, we understand how difficult the issue is and we will work with you to put the right arrangements in place for you and your child.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert family law solicitors, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 0800 158 4147 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.