When a relationship breaks down children can often be caught in the middle. In most situations, it’s best for all concerned if both parents can reach an agreement for the care of the child.
The courts recognise this and if suitable agreements can be reached as to where your child lives and when they see the other parent, the court will not intervene. This is called the ‘No Order Principle’.
If it is not possible for you both to reach an agreement, then you have the right to make an application to the court at any time until your child is 18 years of age. The court will presume, unless it is shown otherwise, that continuing to be involved with both parents is in the child’s best interests.
Various orders can be made by a court including:
• Parental responsibility order
• Child arrangements order
• Specific issue order
• Prohibited steps order
When a court decides whether or not an order should be made, the paramount consideration will always be the welfare of the child.
In all but exceptional circumstances, you and your partner will need to attend separate Mediation Information and Assessment meetings before any application can be made to court.
Normally, when you make an application to court for any order, your partner must be formally notified. You will then both attend an initial hearing, along with your solicitors and a court appointed CAFCASS officer.
If you can reach agreements the court will make a final order there and then. Otherwise, the court may ask for further reports from CAFCASS and social services (if they are involved) before proceeding to a final hearing. Once the Judge has made an order that they consider to be in the best interests of your child, both you and your partner must follow that order.
It is well recognised that children benefit from knowing that their parents are not in conflict about them, but are working together to find solutions without either of them threatening to go to court.
Mediation is something that many people find helpful as it allows them to discuss arrangements for their children with an impartial mediator and hopefully find solutions that are acceptable to everyone involved.
It is now compulsory, subject to some exemptions, for couples to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting before starting proceedings.
If you would like to consider mediation please contact us for more information.
How we can help
If you would like more information about how our team can help you with a legal issue concerning your children, or you just want a confidential chat about your options, contact our friendly, supportive team today.