FAQ – Do I need a “residence order” or a “contact order”?
28 October 2019 by Lisa O'Boyle
Child arrangements relating to children, such as where the children shall live and how much contact they should have with the other parent, should be agreed between those exercising parental responsibility for the child. For an understanding of what parental responsibility is and how to acquire parental responsibility see: FAQ- How do I acquire Parental Responsibility?
There is a “no order principle” so that the Court will not make any orders in relation to a child unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than no order at all. If those exercising parental responsibility are able to agree child arrangements then there is no need to obtain a Court order defining or restricting their exercise of parental responsibility, and the arrangements for the children. However, a written agreement may be helpful so that everyone knows where they stand and to reduce the risk of problems arising.
If you are not able to agree child arrangements, you should try in the first instance to resolve disagreements outside Court, for example as follows:
- You could try filling in a parenting plan which can be found at https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/divorce-and-separation/parenting-plan/
- You could try mediation which usually consists of meetings with the other parent and a mediator, who is neutral and independent. The mediator will try to help you communicate, discuss concerns and exchange information to help you reach an agreement. Unless there is evidence of domestic abuse, child protection concerns or the application is urgent, it is a procedural requirement that the parent making an application attends a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) before making an application at Court. A MIAM is a meeting between the applicant and an authorised mediator to provide information about mediation and determine if mediation is suitable in the circumstances.
- You could instruct solicitors to write to the other parent explaining your position. If your solicitor is a member of Resolution, he/she will seek to reduce any conflict/confrontation and encourage families to put the best interest of the children first.
If you are not able to agree as to where the child should live you may need to make an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order (live with), which was formerly called a “residence order” (and “custody” before that).
If you are still not able to agree as to whether and how much time the child should spend with the other parent you may need to make an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order (spend time with), which was formerly called a “contact order” (and “access” before that).
If you are not able to agree on other matters such as education, medical treatment or schooling for example, you may need to make an application to Court for a Specific Issue Order to resolve a particular dispute in relation to the child or a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent or limit the exercise of the other parent’s rights.
We have an experienced team of family lawyers who are able to advise and assist you on the best possible approach to take – contact Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].
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