Julie – you worked hard to help us secure the purchase of our new home. We really appreciate all you did and for keeping us informed. You are brilliant!!
CHILDREN ACT PROCEDURE
We recognise that issues relating to children are most important to you. If there are children involved in the breakdown of a relationship, the main priority is to agree where they will live and how their time is to be shared between you and your former partner. We understand that it can be difficult to reach agreement and we will deal with this sensitively, avoiding the creation of more upset and acrimony, and making sure that the children’s welfare remains the priority at all times.
We are pleased to say that in the vast majority of our cases it is possible to reach agreement in relation to the arrangements for the children without having to use the Court system and children do not become the subject of Court Orders.
We are members of Resolution and, in accordance with Resolution’s code of practice, we will always endeavour to advise, negotiate and conduct Court cases in a manner calculated to encourage and assist both parties to achieve a constructive resolution of their difficulties as quickly as possible.
In the event that an agreement cannot be reached and an application to the Court becomes necessary the Courts have the power to make various Orders in relation to a child, namely:
- Child Arrangements Order – if the parents cannot agree on who the child should live or the amount of time the child should spend with the other parent, the Court will resolve the issue by way of a Child Arrangements Order
- Specific Issue Order – parents may agree on most issues but there may be particular matters which they cannot agree on, for instance immunisation or the school the child is to attend. In such cases, an application could be made to the Court for a Specific Issues Order, and the Court will decide on that particular issue.
- Prohibited Steps Order – if one party threatens to do something, with regard to the child, which the other party believes is not in the child’s best interests and matters cannot be resolved amicably then application can be made for the Court to decide the issue.
The Court will give the following three principles the highest priority:
- The child’s welfare is of the paramount importance;
- The Court must have regard to the general principle that any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child; and
- The Court will not make an Order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no Order at all.
In deciding whether an Order should be made, the Court will take into consideration:
- the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
- the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- the likely effect on the child of any change in his/her circumstances;
- the child’s age, sex, background, and any other characteristic which the Court considers relevant;
- any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- how capable each of the child’s parents are of meeting the child’s needs, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant;
- the range of powers available to the Court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.
Under the Children Act, the Court will only make a formal Child Arrangements Order, or any other Order, if there is a dispute, otherwise no Order will be made. There is also a presumption that the Court should not intervene unless it is in the best interests of the child. When making any decision, the Court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. The Court recognises that delay is likely to be harmful to the child’s welfare.