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We understand that your children are often your biggest worry when you separate or divorce, so you need a local family law team who are experienced in dealing with issues surrounding your children in a professional, supportive and sensitive manner.  This is where we come in.

Many couples, with the benefit of our advice, are able to make arrangements for their children without incurring the cost of legal proceedings.  We can advise you about the types of arrangements that work for other families and give you guidance about what may be ordered by a court, if either of you were to apply.

If there are no disagreements about your children the court may not make any orders about them at all.

Compulsory Mediation

From April 2014, anyone seeking to issue an application relating to issues surrounding children i.e where children will live and with whom they shall spend time, must, save in certain defined circumstances, attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting prior to issue.  If one party is unwilling to mediate and/or the Mediator assesses the matter as unsuitable, then a Court application can be made.

If, as a last resort, one of you has to apply to the court, the main Orders which can be made are set out in the Children Act 1989:

Parental Responsibility:  a bundle of rights relating to the parenting of a child which enables you to have a say in important decisions about your child’s upbringing.

Child Arrangement Orders: these orders govern what period of time a child will spend with each parent and child arrangements orders replace the existing orders of contact and residence.

Prohibited Steps:  preventing something from happening to a child eg. removal from England to a foreign country.

Specific Issue: when a court is asked to decide about an important aspect of a child’s upbringing which the parents are in dispute over, for example, which school a child should attend.

Children Act proceedings can prove costly in terms of legal fees so it is important that you get cost effective expert legal advice.  Our team are on-hand and ready to help.

For advice and guidance please contact the family law team on 0113 320 5000 or email us at family@winstonsolicitors.co.uk

Research tells us that arrangements agreed between the parties are much more likely to succeed if they are made by consent. However, where one parent does not agree to those arrangements you may need to try mediation, arbitration or ultimately court proceedings to help you sort these arrangements.

This is an order from the court setting out where children shall live and how they shall spend time with each parent.

Cafcass are the Children And Family Court Advisory Support Service and they are professionals who help the courts in children proceedings.

These are historical terms the court used to describe where a child lives and spends time with a parent. These are now called Child Arrangement Orders.

This is the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment in children proceedings and will usually be the first hearing you attend at court in a children application.