Children: Child Arrangements & Points of Dispute

Children:  Child Arrangements & Points of Dispute

Who will the children live with?

One of the many decisions to arise because of a divorce or separation is who will live where. This can be even more complex when children are involved. Therefore, it is important to agree on the living arrangements of everyone involved at the earliest opportunity.

Home should be somewhere that children feel secure and settled. The mixture of emotions stemming from their parents’ relationship breakdown can mean they feel the complete opposite. Therefore, deciding on living arrangements should be carefully considered with particular attention paid towards the children’s needs.

There are many ways to reach an agreement on living arrangements and what is right for one family may not be right for another.

Arrangements for Children in a divorce or separation 

In cases involving families, Lawson-West set at the heart of all they do the needs and wants of the children. The best option for the children must be at the centre of any decisions and this is the foundation upon which our advice is built.

Whilst being an extremely difficult time for parents, divorce and separation can also have a huge impact on the children. It can make them feel confused, lonely, angry, sad and anxious, therefore it is important that arrangements are agreed as quickly as possible to provide stability and continuity for the children.

Agreeing on child care arrangements after a divorce or separation

Fortunately, many couples reach agreements as to the future arrangements of their children by talking them through together, for those less fortunate there are other ways this can be resolved.  Talking to friends, family and various support organisations can be one option as can the formal process of family mediation. If all else fails, Court intervention is possible, although this should be considered very much as a last resort.

Conflicts can arise from differing opinions and so it is important to do what is in the best interests of the children. Some parents believe that the decision should be that of the child, however, this can be inadvisable as it puts children in the almost impossible position of having to choose between their parents, when they are most likely not to wish to hurt either. Both parents ultimately want the best for their children and should look at the situation objectively.

When the court determines the arrangements for children, the judge takes into consideration a number of factors in achieving what is in the children’s best interests.

How to decide where the children live after divorce?

The decision might be made that the children live with one parent for most of the time and have contact with the other parent on certain days that are agreed by both parties. Depending upon the circumstances of the agreement, this can involve overnight stays, holidays and the division of visits at special occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas. Shared parenting is another option.

Other factors that might influence the living arrangements include the location of both parents in relation to one another, the distances from school and available space in either home.

As with other arrangements, many couples will be able to decide on the living arrangements of their children by talking them through together. For those who are unable to do that there are other ways issues can be resolved. Talking to friends, family and various support organisations can be one option as can the formal process of family mediation. If all else fails, Court intervention is possible, although this should be considered very much as a last resort.

woman with children

Shared Parenting

What is shared Parenting?

Sometimes arrangements for children can result in what is known as shared parenting.  This does not necessarily mean that the time spent with both parents is split equally but does mean time is spent living with both parents. An arrangement for the care of the children to be shared between both parents may not be suitable in all cases but there are instances when it is.

What are the benefits or shared parenting?

This is generally the case when the children have a strong attachment to both parents and it is feasible. For shared parenting to be feasible ideally the parents need to live near one another and to the child’s school. There needs to be a degree of cooperation between the parents for a smooth transition between the two homes on a regular basis. Shared parenting may give the children a greater sense of belonging and has the benefit of them feeling like they have two homes rather than just one and another that they visit.

Arrangements for babies and small children will differ from children of school age and teenagers. The dynamics between parents and their children can change, in some cases dramatically, and this factor should be considered.

Do UK courts always favour the mother?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no inbuilt bias in the law towards mothers or fathers. It is true that traditionally more children than not tend to live with their mothers after a separation, but this is more a reflection of the traditional arrangements that have existed in the past, than of legal bias. If a child has been cared for primarily by one parent rather than the other it is much more likely that the care will continue to be provided by that parent.

Parental Responsiblity

Parental Contact with Children

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to their child. The term attempts to focus on the parent’s duties towards their child rather than the parent’s rights over their child.

Do all fathers have parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility and when married both the mother and father do. If they were to divorce neither would lose parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers do not automatically have responsibility neither do step-fathers, step-mothers or grandparents.

The law has changed so that unmarried fathers who registered or re-registered their name on their child’s birth certificate after 1st December 2003 will have parental responsibility for their child. If this is not the case then there are alternative ways in which an unmarried father can gain parental responsibility including marrying the mother, re-registering their name on the certificate, entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.

What does parental responsibility grant you?

Parental responsibility gives you as the parent the authority to determine the child’s education, appoint a guardian, consent to medical treatment, access the child’s medical records, represent the child in legal proceedings and consent to taking the child abroad.  This list is not exhaustive, but these are the main areas it covers.

See also Family info on: 

Ignoring a Child Arrangement Order

GrandParents and contact with Grandchildren?

Limiting Emotional Trauma for Children

Can I take my children on holiday?  See our useful articles: 

Summer Childcare

Holidays for Children and Consent 


How Can Lawson-West Help You?

We provide caring and supportive legal advice to families with matters ranging from pre-nuptials, divorces (including ex-pat divorces in foreign jurisdictions), separation, child care, parents and grandparents rights.

How to Contact Us

If you do need to talk through your family relationship circumstances with someone who's completely independent and unbiased, please do talk to us. We're here to help and advise you and help you through the personal problems you face. You can rely on our experience, expertise and emotional support to put you on the right course of action, a path that's totally right for you.

Get in touch today. We want to help.

With offices in Leicester and Market Harborough you can arrange an initial meeting and find out how we can help you reach an agreement about the child care arrangements for your children.

Call 0116 212 1000 for our Leicester Office or 01858 445 480 for our Market Harborough Office. Whichever office you call, someone will be available to assist you. Contact Us.