You may need to make arrangements for your children if you divorce, end your civil partnership or separate from your partner.
You can make decisions with your ex-partner or with the help of a mediator or solicitor. If you cannot agree some or all of the arrangements, you may need to consider applying to the Court for an Order.
A Child Arrangements Order can determine who the child shall live with, have contact with and otherwise spends time with.
There is a presumption that children should spend time with both their parents.
Where possible, arrangements for children should be agreed between parents or those with Parental Responsibility (PR).
If an agreement cannot be reached amicably through direct discussions, mediation or by negotiations between solicitors, an application may be made to Court under the Children Act 1989 to determine living arrangements, contact arrangements, parental responsibility and any other specific orders requiring or preventing parents from exercising their rights.
When making arrangements for children, their welfare is of paramount importance.
The Court will also try to avoid delay to lessen the impact of proceedings on the children and will not make orders unless the best interests of the child demand that an order is made.
In deciding whether an Order should be made, the Court will have regard to:
a) the ascertainable wishes and feeling of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
b) the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
c) the likely effect on the child of any age change in his/her circumstances;
d) the child’s age, sex, background, any other characteristic which the Court considers relevant;
e) any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
f) how capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Courts considers to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs;
g) The range of powers available to the Court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.
The Court has a wide discretion with regard to arrangements for children and each matter will be decided on the individual facts of the case and needs of the child.