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Divorce and child arrangements: What do parents need to consider?

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Divorce and child arrangements: What do parents need to consider?

We have children together, but I am looking to separate from my partner, what do I need to think about?

At Frettens, we understand how difficult divorce proceedings can be, especially when children are involved. So, below, Simon Immins, partner in our Family Team has provided some quick links to make it easier for you to find what you need to know:

What is the paramount consideration?

When it comes to relationship breakdown and children are involved, any decision you make should have the children as the paramount consideration. 

Whilst it will need to be understood by all that there is no prospect of reconciliation between the two of you as partners, you should always try to maintain a united front in your role as parents in the best interests of your children. 

That requires consultation, honesty and openness in dealings regarding the children. Non communication will lead to misunderstanding and a relationship breakdown as parents and will inevitably affect the children.

Watch: Five great ways to put the children first

What happens if we can’t agree on child arrangements during divorce?

In an ideal world, you and your partner will come to an agreement between yourselves.  However, when no agreement can be reached, the Courts may have to become involved.

Before the involvement of the Court, both parties must however attempt mediation (unless the matter is urgent). 

This is a process where an independent third party who is a professionally trained mediator, helps you and your former partner reach an agreement together regarding your children and other issues you may have, for example, finances. 

In the event where no agreement can be reached, one of the parties may decide to make an application to the Court. 

Click on this link for our fact sheet on Children Court Proceedings.

How do the courts decide child arrangements?

With the involvement of the Court, the Court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the children.  This means that the Court will look primarily at the children’s interests, ahead of what the parents might desire.

The Court will consider the following factors:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the children;
  • Their physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect on them of any change in circumstances.
  • Their age, sex, background and any characteristics which are relevant.
  • Any harm which they have suffered, or are at risk of suffering.
  • How capable are you, your former partner and any other relevant person of meeting their needs.
  • Any other powers open to the court.

Who will your children live with after divorce?

The Court will look at the current status quo, i.e. the current arrangements, as they are reluctant in disrupting the children any more than what has already been done by their parents’ separation. 

It is likely the Court will order for the children to live with the main caring parent and to spend time overnight with the other parent.  It is important that the parents encourage the children to regard both parents’ homes as their home too.

How often will the children see the non-resident parent?

It is always the right of the children to see the parents and not the other way round.

As parents, you should speak regularly to each other discussing your children’s upbringing and their daily, weekly, monthly programs, in order for contact to work as well as possible.

When and how often the children see the non-resident parent will depend upon a number of factors as discussed above.

Where will I live after divorce?

For familiarity for the children, it would be best for the children to stay living in their family home, however, if finances do not allow for this to happen or if the family home is beyond the needs of the main carer then a new home may need to be found for both parents in order to house the children. 

How are money and belongings divided in divorce?

This can be by agreement between you two but in the event no agreement can be reached, it would be sensible to attend mediation. Last resort would be to issue proceedings with the Court. 

My colleague Louisa Knight has written a full guide to how assets are divided, which you can read here.

Or read Louisa's specific article on property split here.

What is child maintenance?

This is an arrangement between you and the other parent of the children.  The payment will cover how your children’s living costs will be paid.

How much child maintenance is payable?

The amount payable can be agreed between you two.  However, if no agreement can be reached then the main carer of the children should contact the Child Maintenance Service.

How do child arrangements work regarding surrogacy?

My colleague Olivia Le Masurier outlines how child arrangements work in surrogacy and the legal implications. Read it here.

Divorce solicitors in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Ringwood

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised around divorce and children, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our bright lawyers offer well-rounded advice in plain English.

Initial meetings for all new clients are free of charge and will usually take place over a cup of tea or coffee at our modern, town-centre offices, however we are currently having these over the phone or video conference.

Call us on 01202 499 255 or visit the contact us page here if you’d like to get in touch.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.