Going through a separation or divorce is one of the toughest situations you may ever face as a parent. You will want to make sure that despite whatever adult issues are ongoing, your children are not affected by this and that they can continue to enjoy a relationship with both of their parents.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult for parents to come to an agreement about what is best for their children, and when an agreement can’t be reached, the breakdown of the relationship will inevitably become more difficult and less amicable, impacting upon the children in one way or another.
All professionals involved with children, including your solicitor, will always encourage a resolution outside of the court system. Bringing an application to court for an order can not only be costly and time-consuming but also stressful for those involved and will not help maintain lasting relationships. Generally, agreements reached without court intervention will last longer and be better for the children.
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced the Child Arrangements Programme (the CAP) which came into force on the 22nd April 2014. It is designed to assist families reach safe and child-focused agreements for their child, where possible out of the court setting. One way in which this can be achieved is through Mediation. The CAP therefore introduced a requirement for any party wishing to make an application to the court to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (known as a MIAM).
If mediation is not appropriate or does not work then you are able to make an application to the court.
The court has the power to make various orders relating to children, as follows:
The first thing the court will consider when dealing with children matters is that in making any arrangements with respect to a child, the child’s welfare must be the highest priority. Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 applies to all applications for orders concerning children. This means that:
Furthermore when considering the child’s welfare the court will have regard to the Welfare Checklist. The checklist can be found under section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 and the seven criteria are as follows:
This is a broad check list and with matters relating to children it will usually always depend on the individual facts of each particular case.
If you are struggling to reach an agreement with your ex-partner about the arrangements for your children or you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please contact Stephanie Layton, specialist family law solicitor at Hay & Kilner.
Call: 0191 232 8345