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Child Contact & Residency
JMW can provide practical guidance and individually tailored advice for any aspect relating to arrangements for children. We have a wealth of experience in negotiating the best possible arrangements, whether this be in relation to residence and contact options, financial provision or any other consideration for children.
Find out more about how we can assist with arrangements for children by speaking to our expert solicitors today. Get in touch by either calling us on 0800 652 5577 or completing our online enquiry form and allowing us to call you back.
We understand the delicate nature of situations relating to children, so you can be safe in the knowledge that our first priority is ensuring that a fair, child-focused agreement is reached, both quickly and efficiently. We believe that acting swiftly and sensitively will help to minimise any upheaval in your and your children's lives.
The court will only need to be involved in deciding arrangements for children if there is a dispute that cannot be resolved through discussion and negotiation. If this becomes necessary, there are several different types of court order available, depending on the circumstances and the issue that is in dispute.
Child arrangements order
This is an order that regulates who a child lives with, at what times, and who the child spends time with. Before April 2014, these were known as residence and contact orders.
Specific issue order
This order is needed when the court is required to decide a particular issue in dispute, such as which school a child should attend.
Prohibited steps order
An order of this type forbids a person from taking a particular action in relation to a child, such as taking them abroad.
Our team of family law solicitors can help you take the appropriate steps, enabling you to reach an amicable settlement with your former partner, if at all possible.
We understand that going through any legal process can be extremely stressful, particularly when arrangements for children are involved. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of cases do not proceed to a final hearing. Usually, the parties and their solicitors reach a compromise before that stage is reached.
If you are unable to finalise an agreement with your partner, or former partner, our team of family law experts will provide clear, easy-to-digest legal advice to reflect your unique situation.
My wife and I are getting divorced. We want to keep everything as amicable as possible, but are worried that the court might get involved. What can we do?
It is a really important principle of the law relating to children that the court will not become involved in family life unless it needs to do so. Even though the court will be handling your divorce, this is very much a paper exercise and it will not scrutinise the arrangements for the children unless either you or your wife makes an application to decide a substantive issue you cannot agree between yourselves. For most divorcing couples, the court will play no active role whatsoever.
Even if a difficult issue does arise, you and your wife can attempt to resolve matters through discussions or through a slightly more formal process of mediation. This can work really well to bring about a resolution before issues escalate and become acrimonious. In fact, in all but exceptional cases, the court will expect parents to have been to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM before applying to court.
I am not married to the mother of my child but I am on his birth certificate. What rights do I have?
If the birth was registered after 1 December 2003, you will have parental responsibility for the child. If the birth was registered before this date, then you do not have parental responsibility. However, you can acquire parental responsibility for the child in several ways:
- If you marry the mother of the child
- If you enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
- If you obtain a parental responsibility order from the court
I don't want to take my husband to court but we just can't seem to agree on anything to do with the children. How can we move forward?
There are lots of ways to try and deal with a dispute, even when talking face to face seems not to be working any more. Mediation (click here for more) can work really well for some families. A specially trained facilitator, usually a family lawyer themselves, will bring the parties together to try and work something out that everyone can live with.
I have heard that the mother always gets the children. Is this true?
No. The court does not have a set of presumptions about who should be caring for children. Each case is individual and the court will be interested in one thing only: what is in the children's best interests.
There are families in which one parent has taken a step back from employment or reduced his or her working hours to care for the children and this could mean that the children would spend more weekday time with that parent for practical reasons. This could equally apply to a mother or a father. In other families the children will divide their time pretty much equally between their parents' homes after separation. There are almost as many permutations as there are families.
The court will not impose a solution on any family unless there is an insoluble issue that needs to be determined. Even within the court process, the judges will do their utmost to bring the parents towards an agreed arrangement and avoid a contested hearing if at all possible.
I am worried that if I go into mediation I won't be able to take legal advice. Is this true?
No. It is very important that anyone going through mediation has the opportunity to seek advice and support from their own solicitor. Although the actual meetings will usually only involve the separating couple and the mediator - who is neutral so cannot give legal advice - there is no reason why you cannot take legal advice whenever you feel it necessary between sessions. Often someone will meet with their solicitor before a mediation session to get a clearer idea of their legal rights going into negotiations and then catch up with their solicitor afterwards to 'debrief'.
In addition, where financial settlements on divorce or civil partnership dissolution are concerned, it is really important that any agreement reached in mediation is turned into a properly drafted financial consent order that is then submitted to the court for approval. Unless this happens the agreement will not be legally binding.
JMW's team of qualified solicitors is on hand to provide support in relation to any aspect of arrangements for children. We can help you take the right steps to find an amicable solution that is satisfactory for all parties involved.
We are known for being approachable and understanding, with a no-nonsense approach that means we always strive to get the best results for our clients. We are hugely experienced and have a proven track record for helping families reach the right outcomes.