If you separate from a partner with whom you share parental responsibility over one or more dependants under the age of 18, you should consider making a child arrangements order. This sets out certain arrangements for your child's upbringing and can help to overcome any disputes and disagreements during acrimonious divorces, civil partnership dissolutions and other co-parenting separations. Child arrangement mediation can help you to agree the terms, which can be a matter of mutual consent or, if you want to ensure they can be legally enforced, can be written into a court order. Child arrangement orders are the current name for what has previously been called: Residence orders, contact orders or custody. All of these terms are now out of date, although there's no need to reapply for a new child arrangement order if you have a historic residence order or contact order already in place. Consideration of application for a court issued Child Arrangements order should direct parents towards the agreement of arrangements that will be in the best interests of their children. Mediation of the terms of such an order can help parents move away from considerations of what is” fair access” , away from potentially harmful behaviours such as excessive phone calls, instant messages and social media posts and towards a new happier chapter in their lives as successfully separated co-parents.
Child arrangements and parental conflict
Separating couples may have decided to end their relationship with each other but when they have children together, they start a new journey. They embark on what at first can be a very daunting prospect as they learn to continue to co-parent their children whilst separated.
Child Arrangement Mediation can provide an effective solution to help separated parents start this process in a way that is future and child focused.
Our mediators will help separating couples come to terms with where they each are in terms of the separation. If one parent is further along the path, our mediator can signpost the other to potential counselling or coaching options so that when it comes to mediation sessions both parents can focus fully on the needs of the children post-separation.
Our mediators will always work with parents to put the needs of the children first or centre stage. Whether or not the parents decide on child-inclusive mediation the mediator will invite parents to consider what the children might say if they were in the mediation, if they were looking back on the process in future years, how would they have wanted issues to be resolved?
We will work with parents to reduce parental conflict which can be so damaging for children.
Co-parents share parental responsibility for their children. Parents who were married or on the birth certificate are deemed by law to share parental responsibility.
An unmarried parent not on the birth certificate can apply to the court for parental responsibility and mediation can help the parents reach an agreement on how these responsibilities should be carried out in practice.
Child arrangements will include issues such as
Our mediators will work with parents to share care of the children irrespective of where they may live for the majority of the time. If the children live 50/50 with each parent; this is shared care. Equally, if the children live with one parent more than the other our mediators encourage parents to remember that this is still shared care. Care is about responsibility not necessarily where the children live.
Sometimes, one or another parent must relocate to another area, or even abroad. In this case, our mediator will work with the parents to explore what arrangements will be in the children’s best interests.
Parents often worry about arrangements for holidays, Christmas or Birthdays. Our mediators can help you put these worries aside and focus on options that are in the best interests of the children and will make them as happy as possible.
Sometimes one or another Parent may wish to do something which is not agreed upon by the other. For example, one parent may disagree with the other taking the children out of the country. Mediation can prevent an application to a court for a prohibited steps order if the parents are prepared to focus on the needs of the children and the practicalities of the situation.
Sometimes Parents may disagree on key parental responsibilities such as education, health, or religion. Mediation can prevent an application to the court for a specific issues order if the parents can again focus on the needs and welfare of the child moving forward.
Where there remains disagreement or tension between parents, our mediators can refer clients to child therapists or parenting coaches. Further our mediators can provide specimen parenting plans or suggest useful co-parenting apps.
Mediation allows parents to work together to make the best decisions for their children and to avoid the imposition of a decision by a Court. Our experience is that mediation can serve to enhance our clients’ ongoing role as separated co-parents and, by effective management and reduction of conflict, provide the best possible outlook for the children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Separations, divorces and dissolutions are often stressful, but rarely more so than when dependants are involved. We appreciate that splitting up does not reduce your commitment to your child or your desire to co-parent them in the best way possible.
Child arrangement mediation starts from a positive outlook: the desire to put in place an amicable and enforceable agreement that puts the interests of your child first.
As always, we will use the full range of mediation techniques to overcome any impasses and guide all involved parties towards a desirable outcome – including talking to your child or children, and any other caregivers such as grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles.
Contact Marcia Mediation in total confidence and we can guide you through the process of how to arrange mediation for Child Arrangement Orders.
We will always work hard to make the process as stress-free as possible and, if required, to give you the paperwork you need to get a legally enforceable court order to cover everything you agree upon.
There are a lot of ways to schedule access to your child and they don’t need to be perfectly equal, especially during school terms and the working week.
Some of the most common Child Arrangements Agreements in the UK include:
Parents take the child Monday to Sunday with a handover at the weekend. Ideal for older children who prefer to stay in one place for longer.
Better for younger children who want to see both parents within each week, parents alternate three and four days of access, with handovers on the same days each week.
Ideal if one parent works while the other is always at home, this arrangement allows weekend access (or equivalent ‘days off’ access) by the working parent.
These are just a few examples. Child arrangement mediation is a great way to decide, based on your personal real-life circumstances, on a schedule that will work best for both parents, any other caregivers (e.g. grandparents) and most crucially of all, for the children.