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Child Custody

If a couple decides to separate then one of the most important issues to decide will be the living and contact arrangements for any children. This is something that can be very emotional, but by taking appropriate legal advice from an expert family lawyer, you can be helped to determine the best arrangements in your circumstances. Individuals going through a separation will often have a lot of questions and concerns regarding what will happen in relation to their children. They will want to know who is going to get custody and what contact they will have. There may be concerns about contact issues or whether they should prevent the other party from seeing them. There will also be issues surrounding child maintenance and how this will need to be paid.

Our specialist family lawyers understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family and we will use our years of experience and deep understanding of the law in this area to make sure that we understand your case and can advise the best course of action. Our sympathetic team can help you through this difficult time so you don’t have to go through it on your own and we can explain the best options to your case to ensure the right outcome. Here we look at the various orders that can be used and what the effect of them is.

Child Arrangement Orders

The divorce process does not automatically cover the issues relating to the custody of children and also what contact will be allowed for each of the parties. This is something that needs to be determined separately. A child arrangement order is a legal document that sets out issues relating to:

  • Where the children will live.
  • What contact they will have with both of their parents.
  • How the children will be financially supported.
  • What type of contact will take place and the frequency of that contact.

Anyone that has parental responsibility for the children (whether or not they are the biological parents) can apply for a child arrangement order. It is possible to create a written parenting plan between the couple if they are in agreement on the practical aspects surrounding how they are going to go forward with childcare arrangements. These plans help the parties to put the interests of the children first by making it clear what is expected of each party and setting out practical decisions, such as living arrangements and decisions on things such as education. If you cannot agree on all areas, you can still use this plan as a basis to go to Court and this can then be used to show which areas are agreed and which are still not finalised. A parenting plan can be made legally binding with the use of a solicitor, who can turn it into a consent order. The order will detail the arrangements for the children as agreed between the parents.

Parties can also use mediation as a means to try to come to an acceptable arrangement for both parties. Before using the Courts to determine such an order, it will be necessary to show that you have tried to use mediation and that it was not successful. Both parties must attend the mediation meeting to talk to the mediator who will decide whether or not this process will work. There are a few cases where this is not necessary, such as where there is domestic violence or social services involvement. Mediation can be used to help the parties to determine all the issues relating to the children including contact, financial issues and where they live. The issues that are agreed will be recorded in a document for the parties. Again, this is not legally binding but can be made so by a solicitor drafting a consent order for court approval.

If the mediator decides that mediation will not work in a particular case or the parties cannot agree on some or all of the issues then they will need to apply to the Courts for a Child Arrangement Order. The Court will always prioritise the welfare and needs (physical, emotional and educational) of the children. The Court will take into account issues such as their age, gender and background and whether changes will have an effect on them. They will also consider the ability of the parents to fulfil the children’s needs and what the wishes are of the relevant children.

It is possible to vary a child arrangement order by using mediation to agree the changes. If one of the parties is preventing the other parent from having contact with the children even though it is covered in the Child Arrangement Order, then the Court can make a suspended order that transfers the child’s residency to the other parents unless they are allowed the agreed contact.

Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders

In some cases, a specific issue order may be needed to look at particular points and clarify them in a legal document. The sort of cases that this will cover is where there needs to be a decision regarding the school that the children are to attend and whether they should have a religious education. It can also cover issues such as whether changing the children’s surname is in their best interest.

A prohibited steps order is used to stop one of the parents from making decisions that affect a child, for example, such an order could be used to prevent one of the parents taking the child abroad.

Contact our Specialist Child Custody and Contact Lawyers Bradford Today

Dealing with issues involving children can be very stressful and worrying. Our expert team can offer confidential advice and support to you during this difficult time to make sure we get the best outcome possible in your situation. Our specialist lawyers are sensitive to how difficult these matters can be and will offer personal, tailored advice based on your specific circumstances. To discuss your case and arrange a no-obligation free initial consultation please either call us on 01274 350546 or fill in our online enquiry form.

Child custody and contact lawyers Bradford

For confidential advice and support, contact our trusted family law team today. We take the time to listen to your family law situation and talk you through the options available to you.

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

Enquire now

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