When parents separate, their children are a priority. Children’s welfare takes precedence over everything else, and decisions about their future care, living arrangements and contact with each parent must be decided quickly, coherently, and taken in their best interests.
However, a divorce is a vulnerable time for separating spouses, and it can be difficult to come to an agreement, particularly when emotions are running high.
Communication is key. However, the breakdown of a relationship is often synonymous with a breakdown in conversation, and it can be difficult for ex-partners to have an open and productive chat.
Ex-partners could be uncommunicative or unwilling to compromise, and discussions about children can easily collapse. Couples can reach an impasse.
At Bookers & Bolton, we appreciate how stressful and emotional dealing with child arrangement matters can be for all involved. Our family law solicitors in Alton and Hampshire have been working with families for many years and can offer guidance and support with any legal issues regarding your children.
In this blog, our specialist Child Arrangements Solicitors consider the difficulties often involved in making arrangements for your child after a divorce and consider what we can do to help.
Solicitors for Child Arrangements
There are several ways that an experienced family solicitor can help you and your ex-spouse with your child arrangements following a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership. These include:
- Ensure an agreement is legally binding.
Parents who are divorcing, separating, or dissolving a civil partnership need to consider three main factors about their children:
- Where their children will live.
- How much time they will spend with each parent.
- How they will be supported financially.
Some couples may be lucky enough to decide this amicably between themselves. However, even for those parents who need minimal help in reaching such decisions, you should consider getting a solicitor to draft a ‘consent order’ setting out what you have decided to ensure your agreement is legally binding.
A consent order is a legal document that confirms your agreement and is signed by both parents. It is then approved by the court. Getting a solicitor to help draft a consent order makes an informal agreement legally enforceable.
- Assist with a parenting plan.
For ex-partners who find it more difficult to agree on arrangements for their children, a solicitor can help them to make a parenting plan.
Involving a specialist child lawyer in this process has several benefits. For example, a solicitor will:
- Help everyone involved know what is expected of them.
- Act as a mediator between partners in discussions.
- Draft a clear agreement that is legally binding.
- Ensure your interests are protected.
- Make sure all relevant information is included.
- Highlight any issues you may not have considered yourself, such as educational decisions for the children, and rules regarding new partners.
- Help couples reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation.
Relations can often be strained between divorcing couples, and it can often prove tricky to talk openly to an ex-spouse. A solicitor experienced in family law matters can help ensure that the lines of communication between you and your ex-partner remain open.
This may be done by acting as an intermediary to help you reach a consensus or by recommending external mediation for you and your partner.
Enabling an experienced professional to liaise with your partner on your behalf removes the emotion from the situation and increases the chances of reaching an agreement.
Any agreement you reach with your ex-spouse after mediation can be made legally binding by asking your solicitor to draft a consent order.
- Make a child arrangement order.
If you cannot agree on arrangements about where and with whom your child should live, or how long they will spend with the other parent, you will need to apply to the court for orders deciding these issues.
Before applying to the court, you must usually show that you have attended a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) meeting.
Court proceedings can be lengthy, stressful, and emotional. Our experienced family law team at Bookers & Bolton will guide you through the process and support you every step of the way.
A child arrangement order determines:
- Where your child lives.
- When they have contact with their parents.
- When and what other types of contact can occur.
Child arrangement orders can also help with several other matters, including:
- Relocation matters.
- Grandparents’ rights.
- Prohibited Steps Orders that stop the other parent from making a decision about your child’s upbringing.
- Other specific issues, including parental responsibility, education, and upbringing.
For more information about child arrangement orders, please see our free guide, which is available by clicking here.
Child Law Solicitors Alton and Hampshire
At Bookers & Bolton, our specialist family law solicitors are here to help and advise you on all your child arrangement matters.
We have extensive experience in all disputes regarding children, including their living arrangements in the event of a divorce, civil partnership dissolution, or separation.
Our family law team can help you organise and prepare the arrangements for your children either outside of court proceedings or with dealing with court orders for contested child arrangements.
Regardless of the complexity of your situation, our experienced child law solicitors can support and advise you on the options available to you. We will guide you through this often complex process, working to achieve the best outcome for your child.