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What About the Children?

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Separation is not always easy and knowing what is best for the children can sometimes be difficult.  At Maitland Walker Solicitors, based in Taunton, Minehead and London, we will advise and guide you through any issues that have arisen in relation to the children.

Despite the circumstances between you as parents, the children should always be paramount.  It is important to encourage children to spend time with each parent where possible.  However, it may be necessary to prevent one parent seeing their child/children if there is a risk of harm.

Our Family Team can meet with you to provide friendly family law advice and look at the most appropriate steps for you to take for the best outcome for your family.  We can assist and guide you through your matter whichever step should you chose, taking into consideration your family needs, making this a smooth process for you.

In cases where you cannot agree on contact or living arrangements for the children, you may need to obtain a court order in the Family Court known as a Child Arrangements Order. 

Child Arrangement Orders deal with issues such as:-

·         where a child lives

·         when a child has contact with each parent and how often this contact is to take place

·         any additional contact the child may have with a parent, usually by way of telephone or Facetime

The Family Court can sometimes feel overwhelming and daunting.  However, the Court is often useful as it will impose a strict timetable and can enforce penalties for a party that is not complying with the process.  Therefore it can often be the only option. 

You will need to check that you have Parental Responsibility for the child you are wishing to apply for before making the application or whether you will need to seek permission from the court.  You can check the category that applies to you under section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

The Family Team at Maitland Walker can discuss with you the alternative options available to resolve your matter including should you wish to avoid court proceedings.  These options are:-

Negotiations

Negotiations through solicitors are another way of settling matters.  Your legal representative will upon your instructions liaise with your former partner’s legal representative to discuss matters, ultimately trying to come up with an agreement about the way forward.  They will then put this into a formal agreement by way of consent and file this with the court. 

Mediation

Mediation is a process in which an independent mediator will meet with you on your own at first and then as a couple to assist you in resolving the main issues arising from your separation and subsequent children matters as a result of this.  A mediator is neutral and provides information, not advice, to help gather all relevant information and discuss a way forward in agreeing your children’s contact and living arrangements.  The outcome of mediation is not legally binding.  A Mediator will encourage you to seek legal advice before making the agreement binding at court.

Arbitration

Family arbitration is a fairly new form of dispute resolution which involves an arbitrator adjudicating children issues where a couple is unable to resolve their differences.  An arbitrator is a private judge, and the process is confidential and geared to individual circumstances.  A couple will ask the arbitrator to make the final decision known as the determination after hearing evidence from each party. 

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is becoming more popular in Family Law and is a form of negotiation in which negotiations, advice and discussions all take place in four-way meetings involving the couple and their legal representatives. The commitment of all four people is reinforced by their agreement that if the negotiations break down the couple will have to use different solicitors if they wish to use the litigation route.  

If you need further advice or wish to discuss your current separation and the related children matters, then please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team on Taunton 01823 745777 or Minehead 01643 707777.