The end of your relationship with your partner or spouse should not bring about more challenges other than the unavoidable, especially when it comes to how your children will be situated after. We have expert Child Arrangement lawyers who can assist you with the decision making on the most viable arrangement for your children.

Parents should, ideally, agree that their children need to grow up with a continuing healthy relationship with them, even after divorce or separation. When they do agree, Child Arrangement may be settled by the parents, all by themselves. When disputes arise and a practicable set-up cannot be established, you may, with the aid of our solicitors, turn to the courts, to make sure that your children’s best interest is served. When disputes arise and a practicable set-up cannot be established, you may, with the aid of our solicitors, turn to the courts, to make sure that your children’s best interest is served.

What is Child Arrangement?

Child Arrangement may be understood as custody, or now formally known as “Live With Arrangement,” and the general concern is the division of parental tasks. The most basic questions asked are:

  • With whom shall the children live?
  • What schedule is to be followed, should the separating parents share custody?

Best Case Scenario – Parents agree

The best case scenario is when parents can amicably agree on the arrangement. Primarily they should determine who will be the resident parent, or the one with whom the children will live with. This is important because the chosen resident parent is seen to be the one who will contribute the most in the rearing of the children. The other parent, who usually moves out of the family home, may be allowed to have contact with the children, on an agreed time, duration, manner, and location.

Some factors that weigh in on the choice of resident parent:

  • Children’s age and gender
  • Their physical, emotional, and financial needs
  • The risk of danger, such as when one parent is abusive or mentally unstable
  • The choice of the children, as to which parent to live with, will matter and should be given due consideration, as they come of age.

Parenting Plan

Parents who agree on an arrangement can prepare a Parenting Plan. This is a written document that will outline the agreed individual commitment or custodial responsibilities to be taken on by each parent. It can be drafted to be as concise or as comprehensive as desired, but what is necessary is for it to be understood by everyone involved, including the children, when they are of appropriate age or maturity.

What can be included in a Parenting Plan?

Aside from living arrangements, the Parenting Plan may detail how to give support for the emotional well-being of the children as they adjust to the separation, as well as the practical aspects, like financial duties for the education, health, and hobbies of the children, the preferred mode and constancy of communication, and even the activities to be undertaken during school and holiday breaks.

A Parenting Plan, however, is not legally binding. To be so, our lawyers can help you obtain a Child Arrangement Order (CAO), from the court. All the terms agreed on in the Parenting Plan must be submitted for the judge to review. A hearing will be conducted where, among others, the reason for a need to make the Parenting Plan legally binding will have to be explained.

MEDIATION - When parents cannot agree

When the parents can’t agree on a Child Arrangement, under the law, they are required to undergo mediation, first. The parents attend a preliminary Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) where an independent third party will determine if the case is suitable for mediation.
While some matters may be agreed upon by the parties regarding the preferred child arrangement, the mediator may still, in the end, find that mediation is not entirely successful. In such a case, the mediator will certify that an application for CAO may be initiated.

Process for Obtaining a CAO

  1. Application is filed in court.
  2. The court submits a copy of the application and pertinent documents to CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).
  3. A copy of the issued court papers is served on the other parent (the respondent).
  4. The respondent must acknowledge receipt thereof, and serve on the applicant a written answer within 14 days of service of the application. Time begins to run on the date that the application is served on the respondent.
    • Respondent’s Answer—
    • Must confirm whether the application is opposed and whether respondent will be applying for a CAO from the court. If so, the respondent must file an application.
    • Indicate if respondent is of the position that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering from domestic abuse or violence, and complete the required supplemental information, which must be sent to the court within 14 days after receiving the application.
  5. CAFCASS Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) investigates and carries out safeguarding checks on both parents
  6. First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) at court. Here, if the parents are unable to reach an agreement, or if there are safeguarding concerns which need more investigation, the court may require further hearings, statements or reports to be undertaken by CAFCASS or social services, depending on the case.

Process for Obtaining a CAO

There is no fixed time frame for the issuance of a CAO. The application for preliminary court hearing may take up to eight weeks, while the CAFCASS can come up with its investigation reports in about 12 weeks. Considering all issues involved, it may take up to one year to obtain a final order.

How the court decides

  • As basis for coming up with its decision, the court makes use of the welfare checklist set out in section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. It deliberates with the circumstances of the children, the circumstances of the parents, and the risk of the children to danger, violence, or abuse, in mind.
  • All things weighed and measured, “where the court is considering whether to make a Child Arrangement Order, it shall not make the order unless it is satisfied that doing so will be better for the children than making no order at all.” In other words, the judge’s decision shall be based, not on what will be convenient for you, as parents, but on what will be most beneficial to your children.

Why Choose Us?

Our specialist Family solicitors will guide you through the process step by step. They will take discuss the merits of your case and present you with options on how to proceed.

Our solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with all types of Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial matters.

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How to Get in Contact

Please call us on 01234 350 244 or email us at info@dvsolicitors.com for further information
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