It is a common misconception that the law is against dads on relationship breakdown when they are trying to sort out arrangements for their children. In fact, there are no set rules about where children should live and how much time they should spend with each parent after divorce. Instead, the law focuses on the rights of the child and their right to have a relationship with both parents provided that it is in their best interests and it is safe.
Some parents can agree between them where a child shall live and how much time they will spend with each parent. If you can reach an amicable agreement, the agreed child arrangements can be put into what is called a Child Arrangements Order to be sealed by the court so that neither party can deviate from the agreed arrangements later on. A Child Arrangements Order will set out who will have the responsibility for caring for the child, who the child will live with and how often they will have contact with each parent.
Where an agreement cannot be reached between parents or where there are issues over the current child arrangements, an application can be made to the court for a Child Arrangements Order. In the absence of an agreement between parents, the court will make practical decisions in the children’s best interests based on a number of factors, including the child’s wishes (depending on their age and understanding), the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs, the circumstances of each parent and how capable each parent is of meeting the child’s needs. The arrangements decided by the court would also be sealed within a Child Arrangements Order.
The decision about where a child shall live and which parent they spend time with (if care of the child is not shared) often comes down to the practicalities of every day life and how care of the child was managed during the course of the relationship.
A court order gives parents and children security. It avoids any misunderstanding and it stops parents abusing or manipulating arrangements. If a parent wants to change an arrangement that has been ordered and those changes are not agreed, the parent must apply to the court to vary the order. A parent who unilaterally changes arrangements set out in an order, risks an enforcement application.
At Townsends, we can help you through the process of dealing with child arrangements, obtaining an order, or opposing an application for an order. Please call us to speak with one of our solicitors.