Divorce can be a complicated, emotionally unpleasant experience. Whilst the majority of separating couples are aware that they need to seek specialist legal advice in relation to the legal and financial aspects of their divorce, arrangements concerning any children in the relationship can sometimes be overlooked.
These arrangements can include:
- Where the children live; and
- What rights each parent has regarding the children.
Following a divorce, it is important to know where you stand legally regarding where your children live and what rights you and your former partner have regarding them.
Resolving child arrangement disputes
If you believe your relationship with your children is deteriorating or is beyond repair due to the actions of your former partner, you need to know what rights you have and if you can make a Court application to ensure those rights are upheld.
It could be that a change in circumstances for you or your former partner is forcing you to see less of your children, or that parental alienation is taking place, where one parent poisons the mind of a child against the other parent, leading to the breakdown of the relationship.
If it has reached the point where the relationship has broken down, then the family Courts can make a ruling to ensure your relationship with your children is protected.
Most people are more familiar with the American terminology, e.g., child custody, access or visitation rights.
In the UK, the terminology is a little different. Here, the Courts issue what are called Child Arrangements Orders and they fall into two categories, which are:
- Live With – The Court decides which parent the children will live with, or if they will live equally with both parents.
- Spend Time With – This is when you and your ex-partner cannot agree the arrangements for the children to spend time with the parent they do not live with. The Court can decide the exact timings.
For information on how Child Arrangement Orders are enforced, click here.
As well as these broad orders, the Courts can also issue narrower judgements, known as Prohibited Steps Orders (PSO) and Specific Issue Orders (SIO).
A PSO prevents a parent from taking a certain action in meeting their parental responsibility for a child. A SIO governs a specific question in relation to an aspect of the parental responsibility of a child which has come up, or may crop up in the future. Instances where a PSO or a SIO may be sought include:
- Changing a child’s name
- Where the child should go to school
- Medical care of the child
- The child’s religious upbringing
- Holidays aboard or in the UK
- Relocating the child to another country or another part of the UK
- Allowing the child to be in contact with certain people
Additionally, if an ex-partner lives abroad and has stopped paying child maintenance, then an application to the Court for a Reciprocal Enforcement Maintenance Order (REMO) to get help in enforcing payments can be made.
Children law can be complicated as each case has its unique circumstances. There is no one-size-fits all approach and this is especially true where children are concerned following the breakdown of a relationship. As a result, it is vital that you are as well-informed as possible as a well-prepared case made by a good solicitor can make the difference in such an important area of your life.
At Nelsons, we always offer realistic and honest advice on a parent’s circumstances. We have decades of experience in family law, which means that we know how the Court will approach each case.
If you need any further advice in relation to resolving child arrangement disputes, please get in touch with Melanie or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.