Making your own arrangements

Working out your own arrangements, including custody of children, is the best way to move forward after separation and will ultimately benefit your child. It can be quicker and easier than court proceedings.

If you need professional help but want to avoid going through the court process, a family mediator can help structure your discussions and help both partners reach an agreement that suits everyone, including sorting out custody of chidren. Using a parenting plan can help you focus on the needs of your child.

A solicitor could also help you negotiate with your ex-partner and give you child custody advice. Or as a last resort, your case may need to go to court.

  • Before going to court you are expected to consider family mediation to see if it would help you work things out – your solicitor should explain this to you.
  • A long drawn out court case could be expensive, and very stressful for both parents and children.
  • Formal arrangements made in court could be more difficult to change.
  • When looking at the upbringing of a child and custody of children, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.

The Children and Families Act 2014 has now replaced ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders with a single ‘child arrangements order’(CAO).

The new order does not affect the courts’ powers to make decisions about custody of children-for example, where a child lives and who a child has contact with. Parents or carers will apply for an order in the same way they do now-by describing the care arrangements they want the court to consider. A child arrangements order that sets out the child’s living arrangements will operate in the same way as a residence order in terms of specifying with whom a child is to live.

Parents and carers who already have a residence or contact order will not need to re-apply for a child arrangements order; their existing order and any financial support they receive which is linked to it, will not be affected by the change.

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