What If You Cannot Agree Where a Child Lives?
18 April 2017
When you divorce or separate, you’ll need to decide where the children live, and when each parent gets to spend time with them.
Lots of people will find it difficult to adapt to raising their children in a two home family. Finding ways to avoid one parent having less time with their child and accommodating two schedules can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, you must come to a decision one way or another, whether through a parenting plan, Mediation or a Court Order.
If you’ve managed to come to an agreement about who the children will live with, and how their time will be split between the families, you can put together your own parenting plan. Although this is not legally binding, it can clearly set out whether time will be split equally between parents, or whether one parent will spend time with the children on special holidays as they don’t see them as often throughout the year.
By visiting parentingplan.co.uk you can see an example of a parenting plan which outlines the sort of issues and plans to include in your own agreement.
Where the relationship between parents has broken down, it can be useful to have someone else to communicate through. This can make it easier to come to an agreement, as you’ll have someone who is not close to either parent to help guide the conversation in the right direction.
You can ask your Solicitor to do this, or you can arrange a meeting with a Mediator who can present your ideas for shared contact to the other parent. Again, if you’re able to reach an arrangement regarding child contact, this can be put into an agreement known as a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ which both parents will sign.
In some cases, parents will have fundamentally different opinions as to how they want to share their time with their children and what they think would be in the best interest of the child.
When this happens there is often no alternative than to issue formal Court proceedings to set out all the arrangements for the children. The Court will appoint a CAFCASS officer to speak to both parents and give the Court advice on what would be in the best interest of the children. It’s likely that there will be multiple hearings before the Court is satisfied that all the issues have been addressed. A Judge will then make a decision, setting out the arrangements in a Final Order.
Unlike a parenting plan, there is further action you can take if either person fails to comply with the guidelines of a Court Order. Although this is not a desired route, it can be a relief to know that by making another application to the Court, any failed contact can be properly addressed.
For a consultation on the next steps to take in your circumstances, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our Family Law Solicitors.