When it comes to separating or divorcing, making arrangements for your children can be amongst the most emotionally wrenching and contentious points that you and your former partner will need to face.
There are several options available when it comes to reaching an agreement:
Making the arrangements yourself
The first option you have is coming to an agreement directly with your ex-partner.
You should consider where the children will live, how both parents will financially support your children and the time that they will spend with you both and if this will vary.
If you are able to have this discussion and come to an agreement, you may want to make this legally binding through a consent order, which we discuss in more detail below.
If you can’t come to an agreement
If you are struggling to agree on certain points with your ex-partner, it may be helpful to consider mediation.
This involves a neutral party being present at your discussion. It can be helpful for both parties to hear from someone who is not involved in the situation to inject an external perspective into the discussions.
If you reach an agreement at this stage you do not have to complete any official paperwork but can write down what you’ve agreed to have a record or, again, can make it legally binding through a consent order.
Consent orders confirm details such as the type of contact that can take place between the parent and child and when they will spend time with each parent.
Both you and your ex-partner must sign this consent form and get it approved via a court order, which a legal advisor can help you with.
Following these steps, if there is still no agreement, then it is usually appropriate to apply for a court order.
It’s also important to note that you have to prove you have tried mediation or attended a meeting about it before you can apply to a court, except for certain cases such as domestic abuse. This meeting is referred to as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
The court order will vary depending on what could not be agreed.
Child Arrangements Order
This sets out exactly where your child lives and the contact and time spent with each parent.
Specific Issue Order
This is used when something specific is being discussed or is causing disagreements such as bringing up a child in a certain religion or the school they go to.
Within all of these steps, the most important and considered factor will be the child’s welfare so the judge/magistrate will ensure that your child is in the best possible situation for their interests.
Understanding what will happen to your children is a vital part of beginning your separation and divorce process.
For more information on child arrangements, get in touch today.