In any marriage breakdown where there are children involved, the highest priority has to be given to the children’s welfare.
Dutton Gregory’s Children Solicitors are extremely experienced in dealing with these often complex and emotional issues with the highest degree of sensitivity.
The starting point under the Children Act 1989 is that parents should make their own arrangements for the children. Sadly this is not always possible, as grievances with each other often affect the way they seek to control care of and contact with the children.
Until April 2014 the term “residence” was used to confirm which parent has the day-to-day responsibility for the children and provided their primary care and permanent home. The word “contact” was used to describe how the other parent would see the children, have them overnight, take them on holiday etc, etc.
From 22 April 2014 the new Child Arrangements Programme has changed the way in which child cases are dealt with; the principles are the same but some of the terminology has changed. Instead of applying for residence, the application is made for a Child Arrangements Order, or a Specific Issue/Prohibited Steps Order. Any final Court Order will record that “the children shall live with Mr/Mrs Smith” and “the children will visit or stay with Mr/Mrs Smith as follows”.
The concept of “ownership” of the child/children is discouraged. It is also now compulsory (save in cases of emergency and violence) for one or both parties to attend a Mediation Information and Advice Meeting before being permitted to apply to the Court.
In every case the parents should consider the best interests of their children, over and above their own.
This is a difficult and sensitive area and for more information about what might be appropriate for your case please contact Dutton Gregory’s Children Solicitors using the email contact form by clicking here.