How Is Child “Custody” Determined?
After the breakdown of a relationship, arrangements over the “custody” of children can be set out within a Child Arrangements Order. Of course, making the correct arrangements for your children after a divorce or separation is absolutely crucial to their upbringing, and decisions about where they’ll live and how much time they’ll spend with the other parent are incredibly important.
What are Child Arrangements?
Over the years, you may have heard the terms "custody" and "access" or "residence" and "contact" used in relation to these circumstances, but they’re now most commonly referred to as ‘child arrangements’ and are a key step to determining the future care of your children. Under the Children Act 1989, both parents normally have a legal responsibility to look after their children, financially and otherwise, until they are 18 years old or have left full-time education.
In an ideal world, parents would decide these arrangements together, but as disputes are common during the breakdown of a relationship, Courts will often assist. In this case, you can apply for a child arrangements order which will determine who the children will live with and the regularity of their time spent with the other parent. Because every case is different, the Court does not have a pre-determined view as to whether the children should live with one parent or the other.
Making Child Arrangements if you Divorce or Separate
As mentioned in our previous blog post, only those with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. In the event that you do not have parental responsibility, permission from the Court can be requested to make an application.
The Role of Mediation
If the details of child arrangements cannot be agreed between you and your ex-spouse or partner, mediation can be a useful and sensible option. The mediator will be able to give you impartial advice while you and your ex-partner make decisions about where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, when the contact takes place and how, and any child maintenance payments.
At the end of the mediation process, you’ll get a document showing exactly what you agreed. This agreement is not legally binding, but you can make it legally binding by getting a solicitor to draft an Order for a Court to approve after mediation. In the event that you can’t agree, even after mediation, you can ask a Court to decide on anything you have not already agreed. Before applying to Court, in most circumstances, you will have to show that you’ve at least attended a meeting to see if mediation is right for you.
Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of child arrangements, and years of experience in helping our clients through the process of separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation, or going through a divorce, and want to ensure that arrangements regarding your children are decided upon as smoothly and amicably as possibly, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to explain all of the options available to you in a friendly, professional manner.
By Vines Legal on 6 Oct 2020, 09:39 AM