Divorce dissolves your marriage, but the welfare of your child is a distinct matter. Child arrangements determine where and with whom they will reside. No default assumptions exist regarding these arrangements, requiring agreement between you and your former spouse.

Should agreement prove elusive, our family law team of solicitors offer guidance on pursuing a Child Arrangements Order through the court.

Learn more about agreeing arrangements for children at our Potters Bar, Hertford, and Finchley offices. We are ready to assist you. 

What is the Court’s Role?            

Parents facing separation encounter the challenging decision of determining their children’s primary residence and visitation schedule. Disagreements in the arrangements for the children can escalate amidst the stress of separation. 

Parents must protect their children and ensure their safety and wellbeing. The law guarantees that children have the right to maintain relationships with both parents. But judicial intervention may be necessary if you and your former spouse cannot reach an agreement.

Child arrangement orders by the Court may direct certain aspects, such as:

  • Who the children live with
  • When they see the other parent and  for how long
  • Parents Rights in relation to children’s education, religion and medical treatment
  • Travelling with the children

Factors that the Court will consider:

  • Welfare principles set out in the Children Act 1989
  • Who had the most significant role in caring for the children
  • Who will remain in the family home
  • The other parent’s living conditions

The Welfare Checklist includes:

  1. Child’s Wishes and Feelings: Consider the child’s age and understanding when taking their wishes and feelings into account. Ensure they express their true feelings and not what they think parents want to hear. If necessary, involve an independent party to speak to the child.
  2. Physical, emotional, and educational needs: Both parents should be aware of the child’s additional needs and work together to meet them. Provide support or training if required to address medical or other needs effectively.
  3. Likely Effect of Change: Recognise the impact of changes on the child’s well-being, considering their character and any special needs. Minimise disruptions and plan ahead for effective management.
  4. Child’s Age, Background, and Characteristics: Children of different ages and backgrounds have varying needs. Adjust the arrangements as the children grow to meet their evolving requirements. The Court may also consider the cultural background when applicable.
  5. Safety and Harm: Investigate any potential harm or risks to the child. Address issues of neglect or abuse, involving local social services when necessary. Harm can also result from witnessing abuse.
  6. Parental Capability: Assess each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs. If a parent has a disability or other limitations, find ways to overcome them to ensure the child’s well-being.

Discover more about court orders and agreeing arrangements for children at our Finchley, Potters Bar and Hertford offices.

Understanding Parenting Plans

A Parenting Plan is a constructive tool that enables separated or divorced parents to collaborate on crucial decisions regarding their children. 

Formalising your agreements in a written document becomes possible when you and your former spouse set aside differences and come to a mutual understanding on your children’s living arrangements, visitation schedules, and other parental responsibilities.

We can advise you on parenting plans and agreeing arrangements for children at our Hertford, Potters Bar, and Finchley offices.

How Martin Shepherd Solicitors can assist you

At Martin Shepherd Solicitors, we understand the importance of effective co-parenting. Our services extend to:

  • Negotiating and Drafting: We assist in negotiating and drafting comprehensive parenting plans, ensuring clarity and alignment with the needs of both parents and the children.
  • Child Arrangements Orders and Court Proceedings: In cases where agreement remains elusive, we can apply to the Courts for a Child Arrangements Order, seeking judicial intervention to establish formalised  arrangements.

Our goal is to support you in creating arrangements that prioritise the well-being of your children while navigating the complexities of co-parenting.