The Court will not make an Order relating to your children just because you want one. The Judge has to be satisfied that it is in the children’s best interests for an Order to be made and in most cases, when parents separate, no Order is made at all in relation to their children. If there is a genuine dispute between you and you have not been able to resolve this dispute out of Court, then the Judge will consider the welfare checklist set out in the Children Act 1989 before making any Court Order.
Custody Orders haven’t existed for many years, though this is still a term often used by the public. Custody Orders were replaced by Residence Orders when the Children Act 1989 came into force but as of April 2014, this has been replaced by Child Arrangements Orders.
A Child Arrangements Order may state that the children live with you for a period of time and that they spend time with the other parent.
Before the Court can be asked to make a Child Arrangements Order, there is a general rule, subject to certain exceptions, that you must first attend a meeting with a mediator to find out if your case is suitable for mediation.
The Court process can be extremely damaging to family life and can introduce your children to a very adult set of systems and procedures that can cause children to feel uncertain about their future. Sometimes there really is no alternative way forward but you need to make sure you are fully aware of all of your options and the likely outcome of proceedings before you consider making any application. It is therefore important to obtain legal advice.
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