Children and Divorce
Agreeing Childcare Arrangements
Childcare arrangements can be one of the most significant bones of contention during a divorce. If a marriage has broken down to the point where both partners feel that they cannot trust each other, they may be worried that their partner could attempt to restrict them from seeing their own children.
Settling disagreements like during a divorce is very important when there are children in the marriage, as a divorce can be very stressful for children, especially younger children who may not completely understand what is going on.
There are several factors to take into account when arranging childcare during a divorce.
It has to be decided whether the children will reside with a sole parent or, if living with both parents, how time will be split between them.
This refers to how much time the children will spend with the parent that they do not live with. If the parties can agree on an arrangement then normally no court action will need to be taken. The court encourages parents to come up with their own agreements as it means they can be flexible and changed without having to go back to court.
Mediation may be required if it is not possible for the parents to reach a decision of their own accord. The process involves parents having a series of meetings with a trained mediator to establish a childcare agreement which both parties are happy with.
Mediation can only be used if both parties agree to go through with it – it is purely voluntary, and as such, neither partner can be forced into it, no matter how much the other partner wishes it. This can be difficult when one partner is determined to take the other to court.
However, settling matters in mediation is almost always best for all parties involved – having the calming influence of a third party to direct the discussion can help you and your partner to reach an agreement, perhaps even in an amiable fashion.
A lengthy court battle is always best avoided, particularly when children are part of the equation –the last thing you want is for your children to see their parents at odds with each other for months on end.
Going To Court
If an agreement can’t be made then one of the parties will have to apply to the court for contact or residence orders. They will then have to attend a hearing where the court will assess what should happen next.
Mediation may be recommended at this stage, to see if the issues at stake can be settled, or further court hearings may be required. If no agreement can be made between the parents, the next step involves a final hearing where both parties and their witnesses are questioned by the court.
Once all evidence has been heard the court will make a decision as to what orders to make and the reasons behind this decision.
If you need a family law mediator or divorce solicitor to guide you through any of these proceedings, why not try our Find a Solicitor service by filling out the form on this page?
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