Contact and child law advice...
When a relationship breaks down parents need to reach an agreement on the arrangements for their children. If they cannot, a family court can make a child arrangements order settling with whom the children should live and the contact arrangements.
Most of us like to think that if we were to split up from our partner we would still be able to communicate over the kids and sort out contact. However many separated couples find it hard to agree on contact and need children law advice to help reach a resolution.
Most good children law solicitors will help you look at the contact options, consider contact from your ex-partner or child’s perspective, look at the practicalities of the contact you each propose, and advise you on the sort of child arrangements order that a judge might make if either you or your ex-partner were to make a court application.
You may think that there is only one contact arrangement that will work for you and your family, perhaps living with one parent with the other parent having alternate weekend contact. However, parents can agree to and courts can order shared parenting of children. Shared parenting does not necessarily mean that children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Even if there is not an equal parenting arrangement, overnight mid-week contact can take place and the sharing of school holidays.
If both parents work it may not be unreasonable for one parent to ask to look after the child whilst the other parent is at work and the child would otherwise be in nursery or in an after school club. Equally, if a working parent wants to have contact every weekend with a child of school or nursery age that may not be reasonable, as the parent looking after the child during the week will not get to spend any quality time with the child.
A good children law solicitor can act as both a sounding board for contact proposals as well as advising on what a court is likely to order, after assessing a child’s needs and family circumstances. Whilst parents always know their child’s needs best, if it comes to court proceedings, a judge will carry out their own assessment and make a child arrangements order. That is why a good children law solicitor will recommend trying to agree contact after a separation so parents remain in control, rather than the court.
Louise Halford - Evolve Family Law