Child Arrangements Orders and Live With Orders replaced Residence Orders, Child Contact Orders and Child Custody Orders in 2014.
If you cannot agree arrangements informally then there are a number of options available such as mediation, arbitration or the court route for a binding court order pursuant to Section 8 Children Act 1989.
A Child Arrangements Order will set out whom the child is to live with and what specific direct contact time there should be with both parents. There may also be other issues such as indirect contact, supervised or non-supervised contact, holiday time and contact on special occasions which should also be considered upon the making of a Child Arrangements Order.
If a child arrangements application has to be made via the Court, and it is not urgent, then the first step is for the Applicant to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with an independent mediator. That is a legal requirement before Court proceedings are embarked upon and the mediator shall inform the Applicant (and the Respondent if they accept an invite to attend) what mediation entails and whether that is something they should consider. You or your Solicitor will make the referral to a trusted and specialist Mediator.
Following the issue of a child arrangements application the gate keeper Judge and Legal Adviser at the local Family Court centre issuing the application, will decide what directions should be made. Cafcass are always required to provide a safeguarding assessment to the Court and Cafcass shall speak with both the applicant and the respondent and any other person with Parental Responsibility to ascertain their respective positions. Cafcass will report on any previous criminal convictions or whether any of the individuals are known to the Local Authority and make some recommendations to the Court and the parties for directions going forward. This happens prior to the First Hearing Dispute Resolution, otherwise known as “FHDRA”.
If matters cannot be resolved at the FHDRA then a further hearing called a DRA (Dispute Resolution Hearing ) may be necessary or alternatively the case shall be listed for Final Hearing if no resolution or agreement can be reached by consent. Statements are then filed in the weeks prior to the Final Hearing and the Court will determine the final outcome and the outcome is then out of the hands of the Parties and a binding order will be made on the issues in dispute.
In some more complex cases, Solicitors can be appointed to act on behalf of the child or children.
We have dealt with a wide range of Child Arrangement cases throughout the County Court through to the High Court and our expert Solicitors can guide you IN whatever situation you are facing.
Please contact us today for a free no obligation telephone discussion. Our main areas of operation are Kendal, Lancaster, Preston, Bath, Maidstone, Kings Hill and Sevenoakes however we can service you from wherever you may be located.
All information is correct on the date of posting.