Disagreements about the future arrangements for the children of the family are common when parents, whether married to each other or not, separate. Although this can be a difficult time for everyone, the child’s interests are paramount when dealing with disputes over them. It is important to try and agree where they are to live, which parent will be the child’s main carer, arrangements for the other parent to see them and have them to stay over and agree maintenance arrangements outside of the Child Maintenance Service.
It is up to separated parents to try and agree the future arrangements for their children. The court will not get involved, unless it is through public law proceedings to protect children from risk or neglect; where the parents cannot agree the arrangements and mediation has failed, or is not suitable, or the other parent will not engage in the mediation process.
Where parents cannot agree between themselves or through mediation where the children go to school, or other major issues, such as removing a child from the jurisdiction to another country, a parent can apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order for the court to decide what is to happen. If parents cannot agree the shared arrangements, whether between themselves or through family mediation, either parent can apply to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order under the Children Act 1989. Most family dispute matters that cannot be settled amicably or through family mediation are dealt with in the Family Court system. More complex and high value cases may be undertaken in the Family Division of the High Court.
Sometimes a parent with the main care of the children will want to move away from the area, this can be a long way, or even abroad, which will mean that the other parent will not be able to see the children as often, or, possibly, at all, and vice versa. If there is no consent, the parent wanting to move will need the court’s permission to do so and will have to apply for a Specific Issue Order.
Occasionally a parent will attempt to take the children from the parent with the main care without consent, or not return them after a visit or abducts them, in which case an application can be made on an emergency basis for a Prohibited Steps Order, Child Arrangement Order and order for their return and a Ports Alert put in place to prevent them being taken out of the jurisdiction of the court, that is England and Wales.
If a parent removes the children abroad without permission, or does not return them as agreed, an application for their return can be issued in the High Court invoking the Hague Convention for the authorities in the country the children have been taken to return them to this country. Not all countries have signed up to the Hague Convention, which can then make it more difficult to obtain an order in the country to which the children have been removed to order their return and swift action has to be taken to restore the status quo.
You can be confident that Challenor Gardiner will help deal with all family issues and agreements you have to make in a constructive and helpful way whilst offering you complete support during difficult and challenging times. Just get in touch with us on 01865 721451.