Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

Family law

Child Arrangements

Do you need help from a divorce lawyer to make arrangements for your children after a separation? Prettys, who are based in Chelmsford and Ipswich, can give legal advice on all aspects of family law. Here are some common questions over child arrangements. 

My ex-partner and I can agree arrangements for our child; do we need to confirm this with the court?

No.  If you can reach agreement direct, the court does not need to become involved. You do each need to have the same understanding of the agreement, so it can help to write it down.

We have agreed children matters but I want the security of a court Order.  Can I get one?

The court has a “no Order” principle whereby they will not make unnecessary Orders in children matters. You will need to have a good reason to achieve an Order. If you can agree between you, the court may prefer to leave matters fluid without an Order.  Talk to us if you are unsure.

How do we resolve matters if we cannot agree?

You and your ex-partner will be co-parents for years to come and so an arrangement reached by consent to reduce tension and conflict has to be in the best interests of your child.  Ask us about our Talking Works service, which takes a discussive approach to resolving problems. If talking matters through with a professional does not work, either parent can make an application to the court for a “child arrangement Order”.  Before making the application, the applying parent will need to attend a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to see if mediation would be a suitable method of trying to resolve matters outside the court process.

What is a child arrangement Order?

This is an Order that can be of two different types: a “lives with” Order and/or a “spends time with” Order.  The previous terms were “residence” and “contact” and, before that, “custody” and “access”.   

How do I get a child arrangement Order?

By applying to the court clarifying which type of Order you want.  This could also include reference to a specific issue to be determined. This may be necessary if the disagreement between you as parents is over arrangements for a holiday or an issue such as where the child goes to school.

How will the court decide?

The judge will want to understand each parent’s position but the decision will be based on what is considered to be in the child’s best interests having regard to the child’s welfare.  Factors affecting the child’s welfare will be the age of the child, health, educational ability etc.  The court’s starting point is to promote each parent’s role in the child’s life as equally as possible having regarding to the practicalities of separated parenting.  The court order may set out a schedule for contact to include birthdays, special occasions and holiday periods so that there is clarity for each party.

I have heard of CAFCASS; what is this?

CAFCASS is a public body accountable to the Ministry of Justice that acts as the “eyes and ears” of the court.  A CAFCASS officer could be appointed by the court to talk to each parent and the child to determine each person’s views and provide a report, particularly if one parent is trying to limit the child’s contact with the other parent. Young children tend not to be interviewed by CAFCASS, but children over the age of 5 or 6 may be interviewed.  CAFCASS tend not to become involved where parents disagree over matters limited to logistics of contact arrangements.

What do I need to do next?

If you are separating or divorcing and would like to speak to a divorce lawyer in the Chelmsford or Ipswich area, get in touch with Prettys Family Team on 01473 232121, request a call back here or e-mail us here. We can also give legal advice on other aspects of family law. 

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