Parents should be Making Decisions Not Courts
It can be difficult to see past the feelings of hurt and resentment towards an ex-partner following the breakdown of a relationship, however, the paramount consideration should always be any children that are involved. This is the approach that the Family Court adopts when dealing with arrangements for children; their needs always come before the needs of the parents.
There are numerous studies about the benefits of amicable co-parenting between ex-partners, such as the stability and security this can provide for children. There is also evidence to suggest that children who are exposed to conflict between parents are more likely to experience issues with social development, anxiety and even depression.
Consistent and focussed communication between parents is essential when it comes to discussions regarding children, such as where they should live and how they will spend time with the each parent. The cause of the breakdown of the relationship should rarely influence how often either parent sees the children, unless there are serious concerns about safety.
The Courts are keen for parents to retain control of this process so that they can decide between themselves what is in the children’s best interests.
If communication is strained between the parties, the Family Team at Leeds Day can provide assistance by facilitating peaceful negotiations between the parents to reduce hostility and help them to reach an agreement, without the need to enter a Courtroom.
If the parents are still unable to agree, it is possible for anyone with parental responsibility to apply to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order to determine who the children will live with and when they will see the other parent. Grandparents are also able to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, with special permission from the Court.
If the parents cannot agree about a particular aspect of the child’s upbringing, they can also apply for a Specific Issue Order to determine matters such as which school the child should attend or whether they should receive medical treatment, including immunisations.
Most cases rarely end up in Court but to assist those that do, the parents will be asked to discuss the issues that have arisen with the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, (CAFCASS). They are independent from both parents and are there to facilitate discussions with the aim of drawing up an agreement, without the need for either parent to have to step into Court again.
If further assistance from the Court is required to reach a solution, CAFCASS can also prepare a report in relation to the welfare of the children, highlighting any concerns that they may have, to assist the Court in making their decision.
We have a wealth of experience in dealing with families in conflict and can provide you with support throughout the entire process.
By Charlene Powell of Leeds Day