When a relationship breaks down, advice from a top London children law solicitor can help with:
Agreeing an amicable parenting arrangement;
Advice during the family mediation process to understand your children law rights and options and to get the best out of mediation sessions;
If you cannot agree on a parenting plan, representation in court proceedings for custody, access, residence and contact orders (known as child arrangement orders). These orders set out how much time each parent should spend with the children, and sort out holiday access and contact;
Resolving particular areas of parenting that you cannot agree on, such as whether a child should be privately educated or should move abroad to live with one parent.
To speak to a member of the London based OTS Solicitors children law team about custody, access and child arrangements orders please call us on 0203 959 9123 for an initial discussion about how we can help you or contact us through our online enquiry form.
Angelique Holm has a lot of experience in helping parents resolve children law issues with pragmatic advice. Whatever your children law concern, Angelique and the children law team at OTS Solicitors will work with you to help resolve the parenting arrangements.
Do you have to go to court to get a child arrangements order?
Most separated parents assume that they need to go to court to get a custody, access or contact order. That is not the case.
An experienced children law solicitor can help parents reach an agreement over the parenting arrangements for their children. The agreement can be incorporated into a parenting plan.
If you cannot agree on which parent the children should live with, whether there is an equal shared care arrangement or about contact, then parents can see a mediator. A family mediator is impartial and helps parents resolve disputes. If you can reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will prepare a ‘memorandum of understanding’ to record the childcare arrangements.
A mediator cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, it is sensible to get legal advice from the best London children law solicitors on your children law court options so that you know your rights and feel comfortable resolving the childcare arrangements through mediation.
If parents cannot agree on the parenting arrangements for their children, either parent can apply for a child arrangements order. If court proceedings are necessary OTS Solicitors will help and support you through the court application for a child arrangements order.
What is a child arrangements order?
Most parents have heard about custody, access, residence and contact orders. You still hear these phrases used a lot but if a parent makes an application to court the judge will make a child arrangements order. It is the same type of children law order as the old style custody and access orders.
A child arrangements order settles how a child’s time should be shared between separated parents. The children court order can specify the times of the contact visits and will say if the contact is staying or overnight contact.
How long does a child arrangements order last?
A child arrangements order will last, unless varied by a new court order, until the child is sixteen. In exceptional circumstances, the court can make an order for longer, for example if there are immigration considerations.
Should a child live with their mother or father?
In UK children law there is no legal presumption about whether a child should live with their mother or father after a parental separation or divorce. However, normally when the court is asked to make a child arrangements order, it will decide that children should spent time with both parents. There are always exceptions to this rule, for example, if it would not be in a child’s best interests to see a parent because of domestic violence concerns.
Will the court order equal shared parenting?
Although the court usually says children should spend time with both parents that does not necessarily mean a child should spend an equal amount of time with each parent.
Sometimes an equal shared care parenting arrangement does not meet a child’s needs or is impossible to achieve because of practical considerations such as the distance between homes, a parent’s work schedule or a child’s sporting activities. In other family scenarios, shared care of children can meet a child’s needs.
Can a parent stop contact?
Whether a parent can stop contact without first making a court application depends on whether the court has already made a child arrangements order setting out the contact arrangements for the parent who does not have primary care of the child.
If there is a child arrangements order in place for contact or access you should not stop contact without first getting the best London children law solicitors’ advice. You may be in breach of the child arrangements order if you stop contact without the other parent’s agreement or without first applying to vary or stop the existing child arrangements order.
There are no set rules on when the court will stop contact between a parent and a child. The court has to carefully consider the contact regime that meets the needs of the individual child and make a child arrangements order that is in that child’s best interests.
If there are concerns about a child’s physical safety or emotional welfare then contact can be supervised by relatives or take place at a contact centre. Contact can be maintained by Face-time.
In addition to support and guidance from the children solicitors at OTS Solicitors we can also help you to consider other sources of support, such as:
If a child is struggling to come to terms with separation or divorce or with their parent forming a new relationship, some schools provide a counselling service;
Some employers provide counselling services as part of employee benefits. Other employers are sympathetic to employees taking time to adjust to a separation or will agree to flexible working so that a parent can work around contact arrangements;
Some parents and children find it helpful to speak to an individual or a family therapist.
The children law team at OTS Solicitors can put you in touch with support at times you may need it, for example, at the time of a separation or the introduction of a new partner.