Upon separation you are likely to be very concerned about how your children will be affected, where they will live and how often they should see you and the other parent.
The law relating to children is governed by the Children Act 1989 and issues concerning where children should live (previously called custody or residence) and when children should see the each parent (previously called access or contact) are now dealt with under the Child Arrangements Programme which came into force in April 2014.
The law states that a child should have a continuing relationship with both parents as long as it is safe and consistent with the child’s welfare. The emphasis has moved away from labels and badges of parenting and more towards focusing upon practical arrangements for your children’s care when you live separately and apart from the other parent.
The law is clear that parents should try to resolve issues concerning the care of their children through the process of family mediation unless there are serious welfare issues or safeguarding concerns. Anyone, save for in certain defined exceptional cases, seeking to issue a court application concerning the care of their children MUST attend a mediation information and assessment appointment (MIAMS) to ascertain whether the mediation process can assist to resolve issues. For more information on family mediation visit our Consilia Mediation microsite.
Where mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution are not appropriate, it may be neccessary to make an application to Court and seek a formal order. The law operates a no order presumption which means that the Family Court will generally only make an order in relation to your children where there is a positive need and benefit for an order to be made.
If you do need the assistance of the Court then the types of orders in relation to children are as follows:-
Child Arrangements Order – governing where your children will live and when they will see each parent;
Specific issues Order – governing for example where your children will go to school, whether your children can change their name and whether a holiday abroad, or a relocation to a different part of the country or overseas should be permitted;
Prohibited Steps Order – orders preventing something from happening in relation to your children. Examples include preventing the removal from jurisdiction or from the care of one parent.
The Court process follows the new Child Arrangements Programme and will be dealt with at the Family Court in the area in which your child lives. For more information and specialist advice contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org 0r 0113 322 9222.