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When a relationship or marriage breaks down, it's important to ensure that any parental responsibilities are being fulfilled and that the children do not suffer unnecessarily. Part of this is deciding where children should live with a Child Arrangement Agreement so that your child's living arrangements are fixed in a way that will cause minimal disruption to them physically or emotionally.
The terms 'child custody', 'access','residence' and 'contact' were replaced by the terms Child Arrangements to mark a change in the focus of the law, which now looks at what is best for the child in question, rather than the wishes of the parents. The older terminology has stuck and is still often used by our clients, however, Child Arrangements simply means where a child lives and the time they spend with a parent or other family member other than at their residence.
There are a number of ways that Child Arrangements can be decided upon and at Forbes Solicitors we will assist you and your former spouse or partner to decide on the most suitable arrangement for your child or children, through mediation and legal advice. As the emphasis is on what is best for the child, it is generally accepted that the child's parents know what is best for them. Therefore, the Courts only become involved if the parents cannot agree on arrangements and apply to the Court for help or if there are child welfare concerns.
Child Arrangements Orders are popular applications and the terms of the order can be varied to individual circumstances. They provide for definition of different options. One example is providing for a child to live with both parents and simply puts in place how that time will be divided - whether equally or unequally. As the Order requires the child to live with both parents at different times, it reinforces the idea that both parents will continue to have a significant role in their child's life. Also, because it's an agreement that both parents come to themselves with the help of a mediator, it gives them a sense of ownership over the plans, rather than simply being dictated to.
An alternative is a more 'traditional' arrangement whereby the child stays with the parent they do not usually live with on alternate weekends and for half of the school holidays - although the exact pattern of Contact how long they spend time with the non resident parent can also be dictated by geography and other issues. At Forbes, our team of Children's Law Solicitors can assist you with a referral to mediation which is a mandatory requirement before any proceedings can be issued before the court and in addition assist with any arrangements or agreements that may be reached.
Some situations, however, can make negotiations difficult or impossible - for instance, should one parent want to relocate to a different part of the UK or even abroad. If mediation does not work, we can also represent you in Court, giving you expert, sensitive legal advice to get the best outcome for your family.
If you are going through a separation or divorce, and require help or advice from a team of expert Children's Law solicitors, contact Forbes today on Freephone 0800 689 1058 or complete our online application form. Alternatively, you can call into our offices in Blackburn, Chorley or Preston. We offer tailored services for our private paying clients, or a fixed fee service for more straightforward cases. Whichever yours is, or however you contact us, we will work hard to ensure the best outcome for your family.
Get in touch to see how our experts could help you.