When parents separate, whether they are married or not, it is important that they continue to care for their children together.
The vast majority of separating parents reach agreement between themselves as to arrangements for their children for example as to when they will see the parent they are not living with and as to what will happen during school holidays including the long summer and Christmas breaks.
Some parents find it easier to have a written agreement between them that they can refer back to.
If parents cannot reach an agreement between them they may need the assistance of family mediation. There are now many mediation services to choose from and parents can self-refer to such services. An experienced family mediator will help parents move towards the best arrangements for their children.
If mediation is not successful it may be necessary to seek legal advice and consider making an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order. That court process will encourage parents to reach an agreement which may then be
encompassed within the terms of a court order. All of this can take a considerable amount of time whether it is reaching an agreement between parents, attending mediation and especially if an application to court is required. It is therefore important to plan well ahead of school holidays so that if an agreement is not reached there will be sufficient time to seek the necessary advice and assistance.
It is now essential for there to be a referral to mediation before an application to court is made, indeed an application to court has to be signed by a mediator (there are some limited exceptions to this).
If an application to court is made and the court requires a report from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) this report can take many weeks to be prepared.
Clearly it is in the very best interest of children that they can spend time with both parents but if you may need help in reaching an agreement or you have been unable to reach an agreement then we can help. Our team of experienced family lawyers, who are all members of resolution, can offer an initial fixed fee appointment for £150 plus VAT.
For further information please contact:
Kira Arden Solicitor on 01842 754151