The world can stand still as people announce their pregnancy news, and for many parents having a baby is an exciting (albeit expensive) time. However it isn’t always plain sailing. What happens when a relationship ends, and contact with your child breaks down and you find yourself in the midst of making arrangements for contact with your child?
Whether you and your partner are able to reach an agreement about contact or not, by involving a solicitor you can make your agreement legally binding. This can be done by applying for a court order known as Child Arrangements Order.
In brief, a Child Arrangements Order sets out where a child is to live and who they spend time with and for how long. It is a family specific order which is tailored to each individual family, catering for their individual needs and requirements.
Orders can be granted in favour of more than one person (regardless if they live together or not) and was an effort, introduced in 2014, to move away from the previous scenario often found in family matters of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.
A Child Arrangements Order is specific to each individual family and therefore is able to cater to individual family’s needs. For example, they can purposely be drafted openly leaving the more detailed arrangements for the children to be agreed between parents when the need arises. If greater clarity is needed then the Order can be drafted more tightly, leaving less to be agreed between parents.
It is important to note that Child Arrangements Orders do not have to be limited to just detailing contact between you and your child but can also make provision for contact between siblings and wider family members if required. Child Arrangements Orders can specify if contact is to be direct or indirect and if it should be supervised or unsupervised.
In order to offer continuity for parents and children a Child Arrangements Order lasts until a child reaches 18. Failure to comply with an order may result in the court taking further action for enforcement.
For detailed advice on your circumstances, please contact us.
Abigail Seaman, Trainee Solicitor