You may need to make arrangements for your children if you and the other parent have separated. These arrangements can be made with your ex-partner directly 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.
In most cases, you will only need to decide upon the living arrangements for the children and the time spent with each parent. This is known as Child Arrangments.
However, in some cases, other orders are required.
A prohibited steps order limits when certain parental rights and duties can be exercised. For example, an order may be required to prevent a parent from changing the child’s school or taking the child abroad.
A specific issue order contains directions to resolve a particular issue in dispute in connection with the child. For example, an order may be made, requiring a parent to hand over a passport, or facilitate particular religious practices.
If a satisfactory agreement cannot be agreed amicably between parents either through discussions, mediation or by negotiations between solicitors, the Children’s Act 1989 is the primary legislation by which children matters will be determined. The main applications that can be made to the Court under the Act are:
1. Child Arrangements.
2. Parental Responsibility (please see the Resources tab for further information).
3. Specific issues.
4. Prohibited steps.
In deciding whether an order should be made, the Court will give the following three principles the highest priority:
1. The children’s welfare is the paramount importance;
2. The Court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the children; and
3. The Court shall not make an order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the children than making no Order at all.
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.