When parents separate, every family member has to make major adjustments in their life. One of the main changes will be in relation to the care of the children and arrangements for the children to see the parent with whom they no longer live.
There are few things in life more important than our children and it is therefore not surprising that disagreements in relation to children are often the most emotionally charged and heavily contested. Unfortunately, it is also well documented that protracted disputes involving children can be very damaging to their long-term development and well-being which is why we will act quickly to resolve your issues in an amicable way.
There is a presumption in law that wherever possible, it is in the best interests of a child to be brought up with the active involvement of both parents and both sides of the family. There will, however, be some situations where it is not in the child’s best interests and, in these circumstances, we will seek the best level of protection for you and your child.
Driver Belcher has a dedicated family law team with extensive experience in helping people resolve issues related to children. We are members of Resolution which promotes a non-confrontational approach to resolving matters in a practical way.
However, if you and your partner cannot agree arrangements regarding the children through negotiation then we can help with preparations for court applications on your behalf to obtain Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders.
Book a free consultation with our family lawyers in Hampshire
How our family law solicitors can help
We can help you sort out all matters relating to children after divorce, civil partnership dissolution and separation, including:
- Where children will live most of the time
- How much time they will spend with each parent
- How much time they will spend with other family members, such as grandparents
- What type of contact they will have with family members, such as phone calls, letters, emails, and overnight visits
- Specific issues, such as where the children will go to school and whether they should have a religious upbringing
- Child maintenance payments
Relationship breakdown is stressful for every member of the family, especially children, for whom the experience can be very confusing and frustrating.
We understand that minimising the impact on your child will be one of your top priorities. Our family lawyers will keep the best interests of your child at heart at all times, seeking to help you find a solution that works for the whole family.
With years of practical experience under our belts, we are able to help the majority of our clients come to a voluntary arrangement without having to go to court, saving you considerable time, costs and stress.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If it suits your case, we can help you access methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation. Our team are members of Resolution, an organisation of family law professionals all committed to promoting non-combative solutions to issues surrounding divorce, dissolution and separation.
Voluntary arrangements are not legally binding by themselves, however, we can apply to court for a Consent Order to formalise your agreement. This means, if your former partner fails to stick to the agreement, you can take them to court to enforce it.
We appreciate that voluntary arrangements are not possible in every case. If you and your former partner are unable to come to an agreement, for whatever reason, we can provide advice about applying for a court order.
Child Arrangements Orders
Child Arrangements Orders (formally called Residence Orders and Contact Orders) are court orders that set out matters such as:
- Where your child will live
- How much time they will spend with each parent and when
- What types of contact can take place
Other than in limited circumstances, before you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order, you must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to see whether you could use mediation to sort out your arrangements.
Either parent (or anyone with parental responsibility) can apply to court for an Order. Other people, such as grandparents, may be able to apply if they receive permission from the court.
One drawback of applying for an Order is that a judge will make the final decision. Some parents therefore worry that they may be unhappy with the result. However, judges are under a legal obligation to put your child’s best interests above all other considerations, and generally, it is in a child’s best interests to have an ongoing relationship with both their parents.
Specific Issue Orders
A Specific Issue Order can answer a particular question about your child’s upbringing where you and your former partner cannot come to a decision between yourselves. For example, to make decisions about things like:
- Where your child should go to school
- Whether they should have a religious upbringing or education
- Whether they can change their name
Prohibited Steps Orders
Prohibited Steps Orders prevent any person with parental responsibility (usually the parents) making a particular decision about their child’s upbringing. A common use of Prohibited Steps Order is to prevent one parent from taking the child to live abroad.