Separating with Children
You do not stop being a parent just because your relationship has ended or is ending.
The best arrangements for children are those agreed between their parents when together in a relationship and usually this is the same when the parents separate.
One of the big problems often on separation is that parents stop communicating. Family mediation can often help parents get back on track with this.
Children generally would want to spend time with both parents and in most cases that is in their best interests and is usually where the court start its approach from.
So what happens when parents cannot agree the arrangements for the children?
Our dedicated and experienced family lawyers can help you through the court application process.
Application to the family court for a child arrangement order can be made. This can include orders for the children to live with and or spend time with. In most cases before any court application can be made it is necessary for the party wanting to issue an application to receive information from a family mediator to see if family mediation might assist. The mediator needs to sign the form before the application to the court can be made.
If an application to the court for a child arrangement order is made in most cases unless there is something very urgently required the first hearing will not be for around 6 weeks from when the application is issued. This is to allow time for safeguarding checks to be carried out in the background.
First court hearing- if no safeguarding issues the parents will meet with a cafcass officer before going into the court room to see whether they can agree a way forward for themselves and the children if they can that is often the end of the proceedings as the court will either then record the agreement reached or make an order in the agreed terms.
If safeguarding issues then there is often need to get further evidence before the court could make a decision or before the parties might be able to agree something suitable so the court will give directions about what other evidence should be obtained and when.
IF no agreements can be reached then the court will give directions as to what should happen next this is often the parties filing a statement and or a cafcass officer or social services ( if already involved in the family) in preparing a report for the court( often referred to as a section 7 report or child analysis report). The matter will then be relisted for a further direction style hearing.
At the second hearing or before- often agreement can be reached if it can’t the matter would be listed for a final hearing where the court would then decide what arrangements should be in place.