Is a stranger the best person to tell you how often you should see your children?
The answer to that is inevitably no. However, when parents separate or divorce and have children, they cannot always decide between them what arrangements should be in place for their children. Sometimes people get so caught up in their own anger and pain that it is hard for them immediately to consider the best interests of their children. When that happens the Court can assist but should that be the solution?
What other options are available to you?
You should consider getting some advice from a family specialist. They will give you sensible and practical advice on how to resolve the issues between you and your ex-partner. Contrary to what you may read in the media, nobody wants to have to make the decisions that you as parents should be making. Solicitors can guide you with sensible negotiation so that the children spend time with both parents in a way that is child focused. Solicitors can help you in negotiating arrangements both in the short term and long term and include issues such as schooling, day to day care, holidays, Christmas and all the other important events in children’s lives.
Mediation or other methods of resolution?
It is a requirement now that parents attend mediation to try and resolve their issues before rushing into Court save for some very explicit reasons. Mediation is generally a good thing. Mediators are independent and they will not take sides. They will work with you on a child centred arrangement that benefits everyone.
You can also consider alternative methods to resolve matters before going to court including arbitration. The Courts, especially in lockdown, are overwhelmed with cases and arbitration is much quicker and you would have the benefit of an expert chosen by your Solicitor to resolve the arrangements for the children.
What if none of this works?
If none of these options work, then you can make an application to Court for a “child arrangements” order. This is a straightforward application that will be dealt with as quickly as possible by the Court. The Court will look at the Children Act 1989 which governs how disputes over children are dealt with in England & Wales. At the heart of the Children Act the welfare of the child is paramount. The Court will often appoint someone to talk to you as parents about what you want to achieve and help you find a way to agree. Often that person will assist at Court on the day of any hearing. The Court will help you find a way forward together but if you cannot do that then they will decide for you what is best for your children at later Court hearings.