Contact Arrangements for Children

When parties divorce or separate, disputes can arise relating to various matters, but the most difficult and painful ones often relate to arrangements for the children. Sadly, albeit in a minority of cases, children end up being used as ‘pawns’ in disputes between their parents.


In most cases, parents do agree the arrangements for their children. However, there is a minority of families where the parents cannot agree how much time the children should spend with each parent, or even where the children should have their main home. In recent years there has been a trend towards using mediation to try to resolve these difficulties. This involves the parents attending a qualified third party mediator. They can attend either separately or together. The purpose is to discuss the issues between them, and to allow the mediator to try to at least narrow the gap, if not bring about a final agreement.


If mediation fails, then the parent has the option of applying to the Court for an Order. Even when a Court application is made the Court procedure enables further mediation and discussion to take place; the matter will only ever come to a decision by a Judge in the most intractable cases.


A H Brooks & Co solicitors are members of an organisation called ‘Resolution’. This organisation has a code of practice which tries to minimise antagonism and disputes, and encourages constructive discussion. This is particularly helpful where children are involved, but it applies equally to other problems involving money and property.


The law governing most proceedings relating to children is the Children Act of 1989. A new amendment is proposed to this Act which will introduce “shared parenting presumptions”. The implication of this is as follows. If a matter comes before a Court then the Court’s starting position is that both parents should be involved in a child’s upbringing, and there would need to be a clear reason not to have one of them involved (for example, if there is a risk to the child). This sounds like common sense, but whether it actually will result in fewer children disagreements reaching Court remains to be seen.


At A H Brooks & Co we aim to assist you through the process of finding a solution that is right for your family. With our wealth of knowledge and experience in family law at A H Brooks & Co we are able to advise and support you through the difficulties you may face and advise on the best way of dealing with your problems.


If you would like further advice and assistance on this or any other family and matrimonial matter please contact Greta Williamson or David Hallen at this firm. Appointments can be made at either our Leek and Cheadle Office with either solicitor. Please call 01538 383201 or 01538 754253 for further details.