By Kim Mapperson, Solicitor in the Family Team

It can be a very stressful time when parties separate, separation can be particularly more stressful where children are involved. In an ideal situation parents would make decisions together as to what is best for their children however this is not always possible.

If parents cannot agree or find it difficult to communicate it is important that you receive legal advice to understand your options where your children are concerned.

Family mediation is a very useful tool in children disputes where both parties are willing to engage in the process. Mediation is facilitated by an independent third party to try and resolve disputes to ultimately agree arrangements for children.

Sometimes however receiving the assistance from the court is necessary. There are a number of Orders the Court have the power to make, these will depend on the specific circumstances of your matter. The court will make most decisions concerning children disputes in private law using the law contained within the Children Act 1989.

When making an application to the court you will then be referred to as the Applicant in the proceedings. The other parent as the Respondent. The court makes decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests, and this is the court’s paramount concern throughout Therefore, the court will apply what is known as the ‘welfare checklist’ to help it make its decision.

What kind of Orders can the court make?

Child Arrangements Order

A child arrangements order is an order that decides the arrangements for whom a child(ren) is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have any contact with. This can include the parents of the child(ren) or any other person. In the past these orders were known as “residence” and “custody” Orders.

A child arrangements order can be made by consent if both parents agree to the arrangements for their child(ren) and the court also agree it is in the child(ren)’s best interest to make such an order.

Specific Issue Order

A specific issue order is an order that will determine a specific question that has arisen or may arise in connection with the exercise of parental responsibility for a child. This specific issue can include what school a child should attend, whether a child(ren) should change their name or whether a child should be taken out of the country for example.

Prohibited Steps Order

A prohibited steps order is an order which essentially will provide that no step shall be taken by a person concerning the parental responsibility of a child without the court’s consent or permission to do so. An example of this is that the Court can prohibit a person from removing a child from school or preventing them from taking the child away on holiday for a prolonged period of time.

It is possible to make this application on an emergency basis and an emergency application would be required to the court.

Should you require any assistance with a children dispute, Onions & Davies solicitors would be happy to assist you.  We have a conciliatory approach and understand the difficulties these circumstances can bring.

Call our family law team today on 01630 652405 for further information.