As family lawyers we’re often asked “how can I apply to have my child live with me?” and “what can I do if my ex prevents me from spending time with my child?”
Separation may involve animosity between the parents and it is often difficult to make arrangements for the children to spend time with both parents. Rather than parents focusing on their rights, it is always important to consider what is best for the child. This is the approach adopted by the Court. The child’s welfare is the paramount consideration.
Before an application is made to the Court, the first option would be to attend mediation together in the hope that an agreement can be reached. Mediation would not be suitable to in certain cases, for example if there’s been domestic abuse or social services are involved. A solicitor may also be instructed to attempt to negotiate an agreement. If mediation is unsuccessful, then a Court application will be necessary.
Child Arrangements Orders
An application for a Child Arrangements Order under section 8 Children Act 1989 is the most common order you can apply for. You can also apply for a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order. So what do these orders mean?
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
A Child Arrangements Order sets out who a child should live with or when (or where) they have contact with the non-custodial parent. The Order will usually set out holiday arrangements and special occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas. The Order can also cover indirect contact such as telephone and facetime etc. A Child Arrangements Order will last until the child reaches 16 years old or a further order of the Court. Amendments can be made to the Order by mutual agreement between the parents.
Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?
Under section 10 Children Act 1989, the following categories of people are entitled to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order without having to seek permission from the Court:
- The parent, guardian or special guardian of a child
- Anyone who has parental responsibility
- Anyone who holds a residence order in respect of the child
- Any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family
- Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years
- Anyone who has obtained the consent of either:
- The local authority if the child is in their care; or
- Everyone who has parental responsibility for the child
- A local authority foster parent if the child has lived with the foster care parent for one year immediately preceding the application
- A relative of a child if the child has lived with the relative for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the application
Others outside these categories will need to seek permission from the Court to issue an application for a Child Arrangements Order. It is usually via this route that wider family members such as grandparents are able to apply for Orders in respect of their grandchildren.
Specific Issue Order
A Specific Issue Order resolves an issue relating to the children. The issue could be whether or not a particular type of medical treatment should be used, whether to change your child’s name, or whether your child should go to a particular place of worship.
Prohibited Steps Order
A Prohibited Steps Order is an order which prevents a certain action. This Order could prevent either parent from carrying out certain events or making trips with their child without the express permission of the other parent.
If you would like to speak with one of our specialist team of family lawyers who have in-depth experience dealing with children law call us on 0808 252 5231 or request for one of the team to call you back online.