In all matters relating to children, the children’s welfare comes before anything else.
You should consider the following:
- Trying to co-operate with your partner will benefit your children;
- avoid encouraging the children to take sides;
- consider what you plan to tell your children about the separation;
- consider alternatives to divorce;
- avoid using court action as a way of settling disagreements, except as a “last resort”;
- treat all matters relating to children as confidential
What orders can a court make?
Under S8 of the Children Act 1989 the Court can make a Child Arrangements Order. These replace “residence” and “contact” orders and regulate arrangements about (a) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and (b) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
Before making an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order you must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting (MIAM). The Court is likely to reject your application if you have not attended a MIAM before sending in your application to the Court.
Which court must an application be issued in?
Single Family Court
With the implementation of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, a new single Family Court has been introduced. This replaces the County and Family Proceedings Courts.
What form does the application take?
The application is made on a prescribed form which amongst other things sets out the details of the parties, children, the order being sought and why. This is sent to the court, the relevant page having been completed by the Mediator to confirm that you have attended a MIAM. The application is then returned, for service on the other party, who is asked to file an acknowledgement of service.
Prior to the first hearing CAFCASS will carry out an initial assessment of the issues. At the first hearing, the legal adviser or Judge will ascertain the extent of the disagreement between the parties and if appropriate an order made a full report by CAFCASS. The matter will then be listed for further directions.
What happens if we reach agreement?
The legal adviser/judge will have to consider whether it is in the interests of the child for an order to be made. If the legal adviser/judge considers it is in the interests of the child, an order will be made by consent.
What if we cannot reach agreement?
If you and your partner cannot agree the arrangements for the children, the Court will decide matters for you, taking into consideration such things as the wishes and feelings of the child; his physical, educational and emotional needs; the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances; his age, sex and background; any harm which he has suffered or is likely to suffer and how capable each of his parents is of meeting his needs.
If the Court has to make a decision for you, it may be a decision neither you nor your partner are happy with and it is therefore preferable to try and agree arrangements that suit you both where possible. However, in certain circumstances your only course of action is to issue an application to the Court, particularly, if your partner is refusing to allow you to see your children.
For more information, please contact Julie Wain at Stafford on 01785 211411 or Shani Carr at Rugeley on 01889 583871
Published on web site – 14 August 2014
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)