Child arrangements is basically making sure the best interest of your children when you are separated from your partner. It is an arrangement you agree with your partner for looking after your children.
• Where would the children live after separation
• How much time they will spend with each partner?
• Child maintenance, financially support of the children involved.
It can be mutually agreed among the partners or through the services of professional mediators. You can then write a parenting plan or consent order for your record. You may not have to apply to the court but you can use a solicitor to make it legally binding on both partners.
If you cannot agree the you can apply to the court to decide but you have to show to court that you have attended mediation and other conciliatory options. Or you will have to apply to the court in cases of domestic violence or where social services are involved.
A consent order is a legal document that confirms your agreement. It can include details about how you’ll look after your children, such as:
• where they live
• when they spend time with each parent
• when and what other types of contact take placee.g phone calls
Both partners have to sign the draft consent order and then it has to be approved from the court
Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
Cafcass represents children in family court cases in England. Theypriorities children’s needs, wishes and feelings and represent children in the family court and that decisions are made in their best interests.
The court can ask Cafcass to provide a report on your case to help decide what’s best for the child.
The Cafcass officer may ask your child about their feelings. You’ll get a copy of the report when it’s written.
Children Welfare Prevail
Courts always put the welfare of children first. They will think about the:
• child’s wishes and feelings
• child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
• effect of changes on their behaviour
• child’s age, gender, characteristics and background
• possible risk of harm to the child
• ability of parents to meet the child’s needs
Only those order are made which court thinks is in the best interest of the children.
You can also apply to court of any changes in an existing court order or consent order. You can also apply to the court to enforce an order if the other party is following the directions.
You can suggest agreed changes in the existing order in the form of a draft order and apply to the court for approval.
You can apply to the court to enforce the order
The court will look at the facts again to see if anything has changed.
If the court enforces the orderthey might make:
• an ‘enforcement order’ - this means your ex-partner has to do between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work
• an ‘order for compensation for financial loss’ - this means your ex-partner has to pay back any money you’ve lost because they did not follow the order
• You can go back to the court if your ex-partner still does not do as the court ordered.
The court might not enforce the existing order if they think that your ex-partner is not following it because:
• they have a good reason
• it’s better for your children to do something different
You can go back to the court if you do not agree with their decision or your situation changes.