Even if your relationship with your partner has ended you are both still parents to your children. It is always in the best interests of your children to try to reach an agreement in relation to the arrangements regarding with whom your children spend time or live.
A child has a right to spend time with both parents. It is primarily the child’s right not the right of the parents.
If an agreement cannot be achieved with regards to the arrangements for your child you may need to consider making an application to court. Since April 2014, it is now a mandatory requirement to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before a court application is made unless you are exempt from doing so, for example if there has been domestic abuse in your relationship. The purpose of the MIAM is to try to establish if an agreement can be reached through mediation without resorting to court proceedings.
If mediation is not appropriate or unsuccessful you can make an application to court for a child arrangements order. This replaces contact or residence orders. At Thursfields we can prepare this application on your behalf to ensure that your case is fully presented to the court.
Since 22 October 2014, there is a presumption of parental involvement. This means that there is a presumption that the involvement of both parents in the child’s life is in their best interests unless the contrary is shown. This change has not introduced a presumption of equal time with both parents.
When the court makes a decision about the arrangements with whom your child is to live and spend time, the welfare of your child is its paramount consideration. The court also considers the ‘welfare checklist’. This is a list of factors for the court to consider in its decision making. These are as follows:-
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of your child
- Your child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The likely effect on your child of any change in his circumstances
- Your child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant
- Any harm which your child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each of the child’s parents are of meeting the child’s needs
- The range of powers available to the court
It is important to note that the court will only make an order with respect to your child unless it considers that to do so would be better for the child than making no order at all. The court will not make orders simply because you require an order to be put into place.
If you are experiencing difficulties in reaching an agreement in relation to the arrangements for your children following separation Sonali Obhrai can help. She has significant experience in this area. She has also gained specialist accreditation with Resolution in Private Law Children and can be contacted on 01902 904 060.