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Children’s Issues

 

Related Material

 

Collaborative Law

Unfortunately the intervention of the court is sometimes required when parents cannot reach agreement on issues relating to their children.  These issues include how much time the children should spend with each parent and other specific issues e.g. which school a child attends, religious upbringing and holiday arrangements.  Children Act applications are complex and require considerable expertise.  Typically the procedure is as follows;

 

An application is made to the court in a form which briefly explains what the problem is.  If the child is at risk of harm then urgent additional measures are required.

 

The court arranges a first appointment when both parents and their legal representatives attend at court and meet with a specially trained person called a CAFCASS Officer (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).  The purpose of that meeting is to see if some arrangement can be made between the parents to solve their problem without the court proceedings going further at that stage.

 

If that meeting produces a long term agreement, the agreement will be written into a legally binding court order or it may be agreed that no order is required.  If arrangements need to be reviewed as part of the order, the parents will return to court in the next couple of months for the Judge to review the arrangements.  

 

If, as a result of the first meeting, the parents are still not able to reach agreement, the Judge will order interim arrangements and both parents will be asked to produce written statements setting out their respective positions.  The CAFCASS Officer may also be asked to prepare a report. 

 

At the next appointment, when the parties have had the benefit of looking at the CAFCASS Officer’s recommendations and have been advised by their respective solicitors, the parties will again normally meet with the CAFCASS Officer.  If agreement can still not be reached, the court will arrange for a hearing to take place at which formal evidence will be given and the Judge will make a decision on the issues.

 

It may be necessary for other interested parties such as grandparents to make a court application in relation to children.  They must be separately represented.

 

The court can make orders deciding who the child should live with and the frequency and type of contact.  It can also make orders about religious upbringing, education and the child’s name.

 

The court can make orders prohibiting a parent from doing something, such as removing a child from the other parent’s care or taking them outside the country.

 

The main consideration is always what is in the child’s best interests - their welfare is paramount.

 

Simon Fisher is a member of the Law Society's Family Law Accreditation Scheme with a wealth of experience in these matters.  He has an excellent reputation for providing sympathetic but robust, practical advice. 

For more information please contact:
Bells Solicitors Limited.   Registered in England and Wales no. 07827988.   Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.   SRA number 569030.   VAT registration number 137595285