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When a couple with children separate and/or divorce, they both continue to be parents. The arrangements they make for the children are crucial.

Research has shown that children normally cope with divorce better if their parents are able to co-operate, and if the children maintain a good on-going relationship with both parents. Above all, children need reassurance that both parents still love and care for them.

The Court will not intervene if the parties are able to reach agreement. Mediation is particularly suitable for assisting parents to agree and our family lawyers are able to assist in arranging mediation.

The arrangements made will depend on the circumstances of the particular family and the needs of the children. There are no fixed rules. It is preferable for you to be sufficiently flexible to be able to accommodate the differing needs of the children as they get older.

Sometimes it is not possible to reach agreement, in which case it will be necessary to go to Court. It is possible to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order This can include the issues of:

  • Residence – where the child will live
  • Contact – the arrangements for contact
  • Specific Issue – to determine a particular question such as schooling or medical treatment
  • Prohibited Steps - to prohibit a particular activity, for example removal of the child abroad or a change of surname.

Factors taken into account regarding the welfare of the child

In all cases the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration and the Court takes into account the following factors, known as “the welfare checklist” which looks at:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding)
  • The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child
  • The likely effect of any change in the child’s circumstances
  • The age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • How capable each parent is of meeting the needs of the child
  • An independent Child and Family Reporter will often act as the “eyes and ears” of the Court and may be required to prepare a report after interviewing the parties, the children and other relevant people.

The Courts do not discriminate between mothers and fathers on the basis of gender. An important consideration will be who has been the primary carer in the past. This is often, but not exclusively, the mother and the Courts will be reluctant to disrupt this primary care, particularly in the case of young children. However, in recent years it has become increasingly common for parents to have shared care arrangements. There is new legislation coming into force to specifically confirm that children should have contact with both their parents.

How we can help

If your relationship is breaking down and you have children, we'd encourage you to put their interests first.

Our family lawyers are committed to resolving disputes in a non confrontational manner and to cause minimum distress to both you, your partner and your children.

We will offer you expert and affordable solutions on all child law matters including:

  • Adoption
  • Care Orders
  • Care Proceedings
  • Child Support Agency
  • Contact Applications
  • Parental Responsibility

For further information on children matters, contact our Family Team today on 01823 446200 or freephone 0800 862 0442. Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form and we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Ask Us a Question

Call us free on 0800 862 0442 to speak to one of our friendly advisors, or complete the form below and we will email you back as soon as possible.

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