Arrangements for children after the breakdown of a relationship are usually best decided without the intervention of the court. Any agreement reached can be drawn up into a consent order and approved by the court. That way both parties have a court order to rely on. It is not always possible, however, for the two parties to agree over living arrangements or what schedule of contact would work best.
If the parties cannot agree on children arrangements, then the court can be asked to settle the dispute. Mediation must be considered as the first option.
Under the Children Act 1989 the court has power to make several types of order in respect of children arrangements. Such orders settle disputes about where a child will live and when a child will spend time with the other parent. The court can also make a prohibited steps and specific issue orders. A prohibited steps order limits when certain parental rights and duties can be exercised. A specific issue order contains directions to resolve a particular issue in dispute in connection with the child.
When considering making an order under the Children Act 1989, the court will give the following three principles the highest priority:
The child’s welfare is of the paramount importance;
The court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child; and
The court shall not make an order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all.
Issues in relation to the child’s upbringing can be resolved in three ways:-
By agreement between the parties;
By means of ‘alternative dispute resolution’– this encompasses a wide range of possible alternatives to the court process to assist parties to resolve all matters in dispute in a dignified and respectful way; for example mediation;
By court order.
Please contact us on 0208 974 7490 or email@example.com to arrange an initial consultation to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances.