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Child Arrangements – Should I make an application to Court?

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What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is an Order made by the Court detailing whom the children live with and what time they spend with the parent that they do not live with.

Is a Child Arrangements Order essential if parents are separating?

No, we always encourage our clients to try and reach an agreement with the other parent without applying to Court. This is the best situation for the children as it allows for flexibility and the parents to work to a plan that suits both them and the children. This can be achieved by the parents discussing arrangements between themselves, negotiations between solicitors or by attending mediation.

Of course, in some situations this approach is not possible and a Court application becomes the only method to move the situation forward.

Do the Courts favour Mums more than Dads?

The Courts do not favour either parent. Their main consideration is the welfare of the children. The Court will carefully consider what is in the children’s best interests by looking at the picture as a whole.

The Court is assisted in reaching it’s conclusion by CAFCASS which is an independent organisation that are tasked with considering any safeguarding matters. CAFCASS will sometimes provide the Court with the children’s wishes and feelings depending on the age of the children.

What do I need to do to make an application to Court?

We would advise that you seek legal advice to discuss your situation to ensure that all avenues have been exhausted. If it is decided that a Court application is necessary, you are required (apart from in some circumstances) to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (M.I.A.M) before you are able to submit an application to Court.

What do I do if I have received Court papers?

Do not panic. Simply because an application has been made to the Court, does not mean that a Judge will have to make a decision regarding your children. It is possible to continue negotiations directly with the other parent whilst in the Court process to attempt to reach an earlier resolution. However, it is of course very important that you ensure that you are complying with any Court Order and must attend any Court date.

Having received the application, you are likely to be contacted by CAFCASS on the telephone fairly soon after and again, this is entirely normal and part of the process.

What happens if I cannot see my children?

In the event that direct contact is not possible, potentially because of the current Coronavirus situation, we recommend continuing to discuss this directly with the other parent.

It is very important in any situation where parents are separating, that the non-resident parent maintains contact. We encourage that parents make use of other facilities to spend time with their children such as Skype and FaceTime.

Our family law team are experienced with helping parents in regards to arrangements for their children and whether applying for a Child Arrangements Order is a suitable resolution. Please contact me directly if you would like a free 30 minute initial consultation.

Stephanie Newton

Solicitor – Family

T: 01635 508196

E: s.newton@gardner-leader.co.uk

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