When parents separate or divorce, the single most difficult decision to make is where and with whom the children should live with. When it comes to deciding on child living arrangements after divorce, it can be hard for many parents to reach an agreement together. In some circumstances the arrangements may be obvious, particularly where one parent works away of is simply unable to be available to care for very young children in divorce or separation situations.
It used to almost be presumed that on separation or divorce the children would live with their mother and simply have contact with their father. This, however, is very much an outdated view. In the modern era, both parents very often have equal careers and a close and loving relationship with their children. Both parents tend to be ‘hands-on’.
The first step in deciding on child living arrangements after divorce is to obtain legal advice. A lawyer may be able to mediate a solution, and it is possible that a short piece of correspondence will do the trick. However, more often than not, if the parents cannot agree where the children should live upon separation, then it will be for the courts and Judge to decide.
What Is the Court’s Approach to Deciding on Child Living Arrangements After Divorce?
The government put before Parliament a ‘Children and Families Bill’ in 2013. There was much debate about these proposed changes, but the proposal was in place to replace Residence and Contact Orders with a Child Arrangement Order. The new Order was defined as:
“An Order regulating arrangements relating to with whom the child should live, spend time, or have other types of contact, or when they should do so”.
Residence and Contact Orders were subsequently abolished in 2014 under the Children and Families Act 2014 and replaced with the Child Arrangements Order. For those who already have Residence and Contact Orders, these are still valid.
Child Arrangements Order means an order regulating arrangements to any of the following:
- With whom a child is to live, spend time, or otherwise have contact with;
- When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise contact with any person.
Some of the questions that the court will ask itself are the following:
- What is the quality of the conditions of the home that’s on offer?
- Will it involve a change of schools?
- How close is the child’s current school and the child’s friends to the proposed main residence?
- How willing is the parent who the child is to live with to facilitate and promote contact with the other parent?
If you need legal advice and support in deciding on child living arrangements after divorce, our family barristers have the experience and understanding that you require. We can offer advice and represent you in Court if required. Please get in touch to enquire.