Living with and spending time with your children
Parents who are married or in a relationship usually live with their children and are accustomed to seeing them all the time. When a relationship breaks down, one of the hardest adjustments for the parents is getting used to the fact that the children will need to split their time between each parent’s respective homes. Similar issues arise when the parents have never cohabited, but each wants to spend time with their child. We understand the tremendous impact the issue can have on both you and your children. We will help you to reach a solution that protects both your interests as a parent, and the wellbeing of your children.
The whole team at CSL were professional and compassionate throughout the whole process of family arrangement proceedings They were very on the ball throughout every step of the case and fought for a positive result. I can not recommend them highly enough for their knowledge and amazing service. Often solicitors can feel very detached but I felt everyone made a very difficult process very human. K Hay
For immediate assistance on any children matters in divorce, please call us now on 0203 463 1300 or click here to make an enquiry.
Who decides where a child will live if their parents do not cohabit?
Discussions regarding where a child should live, and access rights, often bring to mind the concept of ‘custody’. In law, however that term is no longer used. The position is now governed by the Children and Families Act 2014, which formally recognised the importance of a child having an ongoing relationship with both parents, provided doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
The Children and Families Act introduced ‘Child Arrangement Orders’, which state with whom a child should live, and anyone else with whom they should have contact. Whilst there is a presumption of continued parental involvement, there is no standard arrangement. Instead, the Court is at liberty to make any Order it sees fit, acting in the child’s best interests.
It is always preferable to resolve the issue of where your children should live and how their time should be split through agreement with the other parent wherever possible. Minimising the extent of parental conflict and ongoing acrimony your children are exposed to can lessen the effects your separation has on them. Agreements of this nature also allow you the flexibility to ensure the arrangements reflect your family’s reality and have regard to work and school commitments, and any social or extra-curricular activities. If you require a little extra support when negotiating the arrangements with your ex-partner, we can support and guide you through the process, advocating on your behalf where necessary.
If you are unable to resolve the issue of where your child should live and access rights between yourselves, you cannot proceed straight to Court. Unless your situation qualifies for an exemption, you must first attend a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’, known as a ‘MIAM’. The cases in which this requirement might be dispensed with are very narrow and include those involving domestic abuse or a threat of serious harm to the children.
At a MIAM, you will meet with a specialist family mediator, who will seek to gain an understanding of your situation to assess whether it might be suitable for resolution through mediation. The mediator will explain how the mediation process works and discuss any other options that might be available to you. When the meeting has finished, the mediator will tell you whether they consider your case suitable for mediation. Only if they do not think it is, or if you attempt Mediation and fail, will you be able to ask the Court to intervene.
The Court has a wide discretion when deciding the terms of any Child Arrangement Order. Whilst this is generally considered a positive since it enables a Judge to have regard for a family’s individual circumstances, it can make it difficult to predict with any certainty the likely outcome of an Application. The Judge’s primary concern will always be the child’s welfare, but other factors they may consider include the child’s own wishes and any specific physical, emotional and educational needs.
What other types of Order can the Court make?
There may be situations in which you and your former partner clash over specific issues related to your child’s upbringing. You may disagree over medical issues, education and choice of school, religion, holidays abroad and whether a child’s surname can be changed. Whilst it is, again, preferable to resolve these disagreements amicably through negotiation, the Court’s involvement is sometimes unavoidable.
The Court can make several types of Orders to address issues arising from parental separation. For example, a Prohibited Steps Order can prevent one parent from proceeding with a specified course of action such as changing the child’s surname, and a Specific Issues Order can be used to deal with matters such as whether the child should have a religious upbringing.
The Court will take many different factors into account when deciding these issues for your child. However, the decision is always based on what is in their best interests.
What can I do if my ex-partner wants to relocate with my child?
Child living and access arrangements can be some of the hardest fought when a couple separates, and never more so when one parent wishes to relocate and take the child with them. The situation can be incredibly distressing for all concerned, particularly the parent left behind.
To move away with your children, you generally need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility. Often, this is not readily forthcoming. We have years of experience negotiating agreements of this nature and will work tirelessly to find a solution that is fair and workable for all involved and protects the child’s interests. Such negotiations may involve exploring matters such as when and how often the remaining parent will visit the child and who will bear the travel costs.
If the parents cannot resolve the issue of child relocation between themselves, either can apply to Court for assistance. As in all cases involving children, the Court will base its decision on what it considers to be in the child’s best interests.
The rules regarding child relocation are complex and vary depending on whether the proposed move is domestic or international. It is crucial to seek assistance from a specialist family solicitor when contemplating such a move. Timely legal advice will ensure your interests are fully protected and avoid a situation in which your failure to comply with the law leaves you exposed to allegations of child abduction.
How can we help you to deal with issues relating to living and spending time with your children?
We understand how devastating the prospect of being separated from your child can be. Our legal advice is concise, pragmatic and delivered with the empathy and understanding appropriate in the circumstances. We will fight hard to protect your interests, taking urgent action whenever necessary. We will strive to safeguard your continued parental involvement and ensure you are afforded the opportunity to foster a meaningful relationship with your child, whose welfare will be at the forefront of our minds at all times.
For immediate assistance, please call us now on 0203 463 1300 or click here to make an enquiry.
If you need legal assistance with a dispute or family matter then look no further than CSL Law. Their professionalism, sound advice and swift action makes them a great choice for anyone in need of their excellent services. We were given their personal attention, sensible and straightforward advice, realistic time scales and best and worst case scenarios. Following a very positive outcome, I could not recommend CSL Law highly enough! Annaley Alushi