Divorce: The impact on your children
If you choose to divorce a partner with whom you and your children live, you will likely be concerned about how the divorce could affect your little ones. It indeed warrants careful consideration; however, educating yourself on the various steps of legally catering for your children’s needs after divorcing can help to minimise the impact on them.
How you can agree on arrangements
You have various crucial decisions to make about your children’s future, and these decisions can be made with your former spouse or the assistance of a mediator, as the UK Government’s website explains. If you are unable to reach agreements in either manner, a court order can decide some arrangements – like where your children will live, when they will be with each parent, and who will be responsible for paying child maintenance.
Typically, you can only opt for the court order after proving that you have considered mediation. However, there are some cases, such as if there has been domestic abuse, in which this does not apply. If at any stage, you require legal advice, you can turn to one of our solicitors; here at Pinder Reaux & Associates, we can advise on various matters relating to divorce.
Types of court order you can apply for
You have a choice of court orders to apply for – though, depending on what issues you have failed to agree on, you can apply for just one order or numerous orders. You could, for example, apply for a ‘child arrangements order’, which will decide where the child will live, when they will spend time with each parent, and what other forms of contact, such as phone calls, will occur and when.
Please keep in mind that ‘child arrangements orders’ replace ‘contact orders’ and ‘residence orders’ – and so, if you already have either of these types of orders, there’s no need to re-apply.
Another type of order is a 'specific issue order', which concerns a particular aspect of how the child is brought up – such as what school they attend and whether their education should be religious. Meanwhile, a ‘prohibited steps order’ can be used to prevent the other parent making a decision relating to how the child is raised.
What a directions hearing will involve
Once you’ve applied for a court order, the court will prepare for a ‘directions hearing’. Typically, that hearing’s attendees will include a family court adviser from Cafcass, otherwise known as the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, who will also send information to you ahead of the hearing.
At that hearing, a judge or magistrate will attempt to discern what you can and can’t agree and whether the child is at any kind of risk. If it would be in the best interests of the child, you will be encouraged to reach an agreement. If you can do this and there remain no concerns relating to the child’s welfare, the process can be ended by the judge or magistrate. Otherwise, they will arrange a timetable aiming to rectify the situation.