Children’s right to have a relationship with both parents.

A common misconception is that the parents have rights to a relationship with their child, although it is actually the child’s right to a relationship with their parents. However, careful consideration needs to be given as to whether there is any potential risk of harm to a child by having contact with a parent.

Should you get a Child Arrangement Order?

When parents separate, it is not uncommon for disagreements to arise and circumstances can change over time. The main aim of making child arrangements is to ensure that children maintain a relationship with both parents following separation. Where parents have parental responsibility, they have a duty to ensure, for the benefit of the child, that a relationship is maintained with the other parent.

What about the holidays?

What if a plan is agreed but one parent decides they would like to take the child on holiday and this affects the other parent’s time with the child. Parents looking to reach an agreement should ensure that holiday contact including all of the school holiday periods, Christmas, birthdays and time on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are taken into account before drawing up an agreement.

Types of Orders

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the judge will either issue a Live with and Spend time with Order or a Shared Care Order. Meaning either the child lives with one parent but spends time with the other, or both parents share the responsibility of the care of the child.

How should you communicate?

The majority of cases that end up before the Court are those where communication has broken down.  Parents willing to communicate will always find it easier to reach an agreement.

What about the child’s own wishes and feelings?

For an agreement to be successful, both parents should be in agreement and the child should be aware of the arrangements.  Usually older children will have their own wishes and feelings taken into consideration as part of any family order.  It is rare that children beyond the age of 12 are forced to comply with an order they themselves disagree with.  Even with younger children, some consideration must be given according to the child’s age and understanding.  Arrangements where children are showing high levels of distress are highly likely to end up back in court.

Should I go to Mediation?

Often one party will initiate mediation and it leaves the other party wondering whether or not they should attend. Mediation is a good tool for parties as it allows a third party to listen to both sides and help you reach an agreement that both parties are happy with. Often the courts will query whether mediation has been sought before bringing court proceedings, as if an agreement can be made at mediation then it will prevent the parties incurring expensive court fees.

If you have any queries, or would like to discuss any of the above further then please contact the Family Team on 0151 526 7131