Family law

Children's law experts

The law puts the needs and welfare of children first at all times, so the arrangements you agree after divorce have to make sure you have also taken the needs and welfare into account. Our family law experts are here to help if you need support or advice.

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What are child arrangements after divorce?

Divorce can be hard on the whole family, with children often hit the hardest as they can feel caught between two warring parents, as well as being uncertain about what the future holds for them.

That's why, however you may feel about your ex at this difficult time, you owe it to your children to put their needs first when you start to think about child arrangements after divorce.

Perhaps the first thing to say on the subject is that child arrangements after divorce shouldn't have to involve the courts or legal system at all.

If both parties can come to a sensible arrangement about where the children will live once you are divorced, and what access and financial arrangements are necessary, then you can simply go on making joint parental decisions as informally as you did before the divorce.

This will almost always be best for the children, particularly if you have referred to the welfare checklist used by the family court when agreeing child arrangements with your ex after a divorce. After all, that's what the family court Judge will use when making a child arrangement order, in the event that you can't reach an amicable agreement between you.

How do you decide child arrangements after divorce?

Obviously there is a lot for you both to consider at a time like this, and especially if a child is over the age of nine or ten, their wishes should also be taken into account when it comes to making child arrangements.

Our family law experts recommend that divorcing couples take these 'big three' considerations into account when making child arrangements.

  • Where the child or children will mainly live
  • How you'll ensure that the children spend enough time with both parents and, crucially, when and where this will happen

Factors such as proximity to school and friends should also play a part in your discussions; but the biggest thing for you both to think about is: 'what will make them happy?

This really is a time to set your own differences aside and look at things as much as possible from a child's viewpoint. There isn't really any such thing as a clean break divorce when you have children together.

You could be seeing your ex at birthdays, weddings, christenings and the like for many years to come; so the sooner you decide to be amicable towards each other, the better for all concerned.

What if we can't agree child arrangements after divorce?

Where it isn't possible to reach agreement between the parents, before applying to the family court for a Child Arrangement Order, you must first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Once this avenue has been tried and if it is unsuccessful, you can then seek a Child Arrangement Order in the family Court.

This is a final court order that is made by the Judge and will set out details of which parent the child will live with and when the child should spend time with the other parent.

Importantly, in the eyes of the law, the starting point for all child arrangements is that the child should have contact with both parents, unless it can be demonstrated that this would adversely affect the child's welfare.

Bearing this in mind, if you are considering making an application for a Child Arrangements Order, you may find it useful to speak to one of our experienced family lawyers first.

We're here to treat you and your family with care and sensitivity, and like you, we want to help find the best possible solution for your children. To talk to us, simply phone 0330 041 5869 or contact us online today and we will be happy to call you.

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