When parents separate arrangements inevitably need to be made to enable the children to maintain a good relationship with each parent. There are different ways that this can be done. Arrangements can be made informally between the parents if they each agree on what is best for the children. However, sometimes unfortunately parents may find that they just cannot agree and therefore they may wish to consider the following options:
A Parenting Plan
This is an informal document that parents will work through and agree together. A parenting plan helps the parents to reach an agreement and also to regulate that agreement. It can act as a point of reference in the future to assist the parties in maintaining a good relationship for the benefit of children.
If parents have been unable to reach an agreement alone they may wish to consider the assistance of a suitably qualified and independent mediator. The mediator will discuss the arrangements already agreed by the parties and any issues that remain unresolved and assist them in reaching an agreement that is in the best interests of the children. Mediation is often quicker and more cost effective than attending court.
Child Arrangements Order
If mediation has been unsuccessful in assisting the parents to reach an agreement or if it is not suitable in the circumstances, an application can be made to the court for a Child Arrangements Order. A Child Arrangements Order is a legally binding document that regulates who the children live with and upon what terms they see and spend time with each parent. The arrangements within the order can remain vague to allow for some agreements to be made and varied between the parties as they see fit or it can be prescriptive in respect of dates, times and places that contact should occur. A Child Arrangements Order can also include the arrangements for school holidays, birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions
If you would like any further advice regarding this, or any other family law issue, please contact a member of our specialist Family Law Team.