My Ex-Partner And I Can’t Agree On Child Arrangements – What Options Do I Have?

When parents separate, agreeing the child care arrangements can be very difficult and it can seem like a resolution is impossible.

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By Claudia Price - 9th August 2021

If you can’t agree on child care arrangements, you’ll need to attend mediation. If that isn’t successful or isn’t suitable in the circumstances, you’ll have to apply to Court for a Child Arrangements Order.

Negotiating child care arrangements

When parents separate, agreeing the child care arrangements can be very difficult. There are a variety of factors to consider, such as: who will the children live with? Who do the children want to live with? Who will be responsible for the school run? How much time will the non-resident parent spend with the children, and when?

It may be that both parties have different views on what arrangements are in their children’s best interests. This can lead to a dispute and possibly a breakdown in communication.

If this has happened to you, you’re probably wondering what to do next. These types of disputes are very frustrating and upsetting for all concerned. Sometimes, it can seem like a resolution is impossible, and you may think that going to Court is the one and only option available.

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Court is a last resort

Actually, an application to the Court should be the last resort. The Court prefers it when parties reach an amicable agreement between themselves as this promotes positive co-parenting. However, they appreciate that in some cases, this is not always possible.

The first step is, therefore, to try to reach an agreement between you. If communications have broken down, you could try negotiating via a third party, such as a friend, relative or a family solicitor.

Mediation

If discussions just aren’t possible, or you can’t reach an agreement, then mediation is the next step. You are required to attend mediation before issuing an application to the Court, in an attempt to resolve issues without the Court’s intervention. Mediation takes place in a neutral setting, allowing parties to express their wishes and feelings.

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Child Arrangements Order

If mediation breaks down, you will have to issue an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. The Court will ask a Cafcass officer to speak to both parties about what they want to happen and their concerns. The officer will then file a Safeguarding Report with the Court detailing their recommendations, based on their investigations.

Afterwards, the Court will list the matter for a hearing, which both parties will have to attend. The Court will assist the parties in narrowing the issues in an attempt to reach agreement. If this cannot be achieved, a further hearing will be listed. This is known as a Dispute Resolution Appointment (‘DRA’).

If, at the DRA, an agreement cannot be reached, the Court will list a Final Hearing. At this point a decision will be made by the Court, deeming what they believe to be in the child’s best interests. The child’s welfare is paramount and this will form the basis of the Court’s decision.

What do I do if my ex-partner has issued an application to the Court?

The application will detail what it is your ex-partner is seeking. The arrangement sought may be agreed, or there may be scope for discussions. However, if you dispute your former partner’s application, we recommend that you get legal advice to ensure you are fully aware of the options available to you.

If you wish to discuss your options, or make an application to the Court, give our friendly team a call for a free no-obligation initial appointment.

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