The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced “child arrangements orders” from 22 April 2014 to replace orders for contact and residence. It also introduced a new presumption into the welfare test and allowed courts to order non-parents with whom a child spends time or has contact to have parental responsibility by way of an order.
There is no such thing as “custody” in English law any more. Instead there is the concept of parental responsibility and orders the court can make on various issues.
For most families with children, they are the focus of the family and the main issue of concern when couples separate.
In this section there is information about:
- general information about “custody” (on this page);
- the concept of parental responsibility;
- the general principles about parental rights, what orders a court can make and how the court approaches decisions on a child’s welfare and then in particular
- child arrangements orders about where a child should live (formerly residence orders) and how much time it should spend with someone (formerly contact orders);
- the court procedure for a typical application for child arrangements orders (residence and contact) and other such orders;
- legal paternity after sperm donation;
- support for parents in separation.
Elsewhere on this website you will find information about:
- children and finances:
- international issues:
- parenting arrangements for lesbians and gay men:
When disputes arise in relation to children, emotions can be very high and often parents feel very strongly that they have been treated unfairly or that they have the welfare of the child at heart, but the other parent does not. Sometimes there is no alternative to court proceedings. However, the problem is that in some way both parents will have to co-parent for years to come, at least until the child is 18, but often beyond that. If there is great animosity, a young adult will sometimes face questions like which parent to invite to their wedding, excluding the other, or whether to invite both and risk a family row on their big day.
It is therefore always worthwhile at least to pause and step back and see whether an alternative approach is not possible. Since the questions are often more of a practical and psychological rather than legal nature, mediation often works well, as does collaborative law. This is why it is compulsory for anyone who wants to make an application to the court for a child arrangements order to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) first (with some exceptions). Parents and children can benefit from support at this time.
For advice on your specific circumstances please contact a solicitor
10 February 2015 by Andrea Woelke