The arrangements for seeing a child if you are a parent have changed significantly in the past few years. The previous terminology was having contact whereas now you apply for a child arrangements order to spend time with a child. The court is now committed to carrying out initial safeguarding checks to ensure that the time spent is safe and secure.
The starting point is that it is in a child's best interests to spend time with both parents. Since 2008 the court have tightened up the procedure if the parent with care stops the non-resident parent seeing the child. There is now an enforcement procedure which can lead to the resident parent being fined, doing unpaid work in the community or in very rare cases being jailed if they fail to have a reasonable excuse for not allowing the child to spend time with the non-resident parent in breach of an existing children act order allowing the same.
The starting point if a dispute arises between parents as to the amount of time that the non-resident parent should spend with the child is for the parties to attend mediation voluntarily. If the non-resident parent has tried to get the other parent to attend mediation without success then he/she needs to attend a mediation and information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before being able to issue court proceedings.
If the non-resident parent does not know the locality of the child then an application can be made to court to try and locate the child. If the locality of the child is known it makes sense to issue in the locality of where the child lives as opposed to where the non-resident parent lives. The process consists of an initial hearing called a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) a second hearing called a Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA) and a Final Hearing.
Most cases do not go to a final hearing. This is because the parties can agree matters at the first hearing where often a court welfare officer and/or a mediator are present or after a court welfare officer's report has been obtained the parties agree to settle as per the recommendations of the court welfare officer.
If you are seeking advice on a child related matter, Wikivorce can provide you with advice from one of our own Consultants or from one of our partner solicitors.
Ruth is a Qualified Paralegal specialising in Family Law in both England/Wales and Scotland, with a particular interest in the law as it applies to children. She is the co-author of The Family Law A to Z - A reference book for litigants & students. This is a comprehensive and detailed A to Z of family law terminology and jargon, covering the English and Welsh jurisdiction.
She has a wide-ranging, in-depth understanding of family law both in England/Wales and Scotland, with a particular interest in the law as it relates to children. She has a comprehensive understanding of current legislation, procedures and forms.
Wikivorce is very proud of Ruth winning "Paralegal of the Year" in the 2015 Family Law awards.
Ruth has helped hundreds of Wikivorce clients who needed assistance with reaching agreement on child arrangements such as schooling issues, living arrangements, holiday planning, parental responsibility and a whole range of other issues.
Simon is a partner at a successful law firm with a strong family law team that is recognised by the Legal 500 and Chambers directories for their high level of expertise and commanding knowledge of all areas of child law. Simon is a specialist in international child abduction law.
He is one of only a handful of qualified lawyers in the UK who is a member of the International Child Abduction Hague Convention and Wardship panel. Simon is one of the few recommended solicitors endorsed by Reunite and ICACU. His family law expertise includes ancillary relief matters, and he has a deep understanding of international family law. He recently became a member of the International Bar Association.
Simon is a partner and head of Family Law at a well highly respected law firm which has grown rapidly in the last few years and now has over 250 employees. They have a large and experienced family law department that is capable of handling complex cases involving divorce, finances and child contact/residence issues. They are fully accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and follow their code of conduct.
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