Arrangements for children after the breakdown of a relationship are usually best decided without the intervention of the court. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for the two parties to agree over living arrangements or what level of financial support is appropriate. Both parents normally have a legal responsibility under the Children Act 1989 to look after their children, financially and otherwise, until they are 18 years old or have left full-time education.
If the parties cannot agree on children arrangements, then the court can be asked to settle the dispute. This can happen as part of a divorce or in the case of unmarried parents. 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 two further types of order, namely 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.
Means of resolving issues
Issues in relation to the child’s upbringing can be resolved in four 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 or collaborative law;
By court order.
We can provide you with a fixed fee for this service so you will know exactly what costs you will need to pay.
This is a complex area of the law and requires expert advice. Please contact us on 0208 974 7490 or firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Our experienced and understanding team are here to help you. We will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.