How to minimise the negative effect on your children when getting divorced.

When separating or getting divorced and there are children involved, knowing your rights can be a reassurance at a time of great worry and insecurity,  especially if your primary concern will be the possible negative effect on the children.

To learn more, read today’s post, the first in the series covering children matters:

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Children Matters

The Law
The position of the children following the breakdown of the relationship is a prime concern to most of the people that we advise.

It is essential that all the parties try to minimise the negative effect of the separation on the children of the family. This philosophy is carried through all aspects of the issues concerning the children.

The law governing this area is set out in the Children Act 1989.  This Act was altered by the Children and Families Act 2014 which came into force in April 2014.

This Act deals with all aspects of the children proceedings and it specifies that, in deciding any question in respect of the upbringing of a child, that child’s welfare shall be the Court’s paramount consideration. In any proceedings therefore the Court will always consider what is in the best interests of the children, rather than any of the adults involved.

Many issues arise concerning the children on the breakdown of a relationship, the main one, of course, being with whom the children are to live.

It is open to either parent to apply to the Court for a “child arrangement order” which can deal with issues relating to with whom the child is to live and the period or periods of time the child is to spend with each of the parents.

The old terms of the “residence”, “custody” and “contact” are no longer used.  The new law also re-enforced the principal that it is assumed that a parent shall have an ongoing involvement in the lives of their child or children unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

It is important to try and agree arrangements with the other party or to try mediation as, in our experience, arrangements that are agreed by the parties generally work better than those imposed by a Court following an application by either party.

The law also provides that parents may have, or acquire parental responsibility for the children. Parental responsibility means:-

“All right, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”

If you do not have parental responsibility for any child then you can apply to the Court for an order for parental responsibility or agree with your partner for you to acquire parental responsibility and enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement.  It is also possible to apply to the Court or agree parental responsibility for a step-parent.

The law also provides that either party can apply for other orders of the Court, such as:-

  1. Specifically requiring one party to do something (a “specific issue order”)
  2. Preventing someone from acting in a certain way (a “prohibited steps order”)

Welfare Checklist

Next week we will be adding more information into our post that covers the Welfare Checklist, time spent with an absent parent and answers to some of the most common questions.  So to learn more, please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter or view our post directly on our website

If you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss your concerns directly, please contact our Divorce Solicitors directly:

Either Sara Fildes (01243532777)       | Email:

David Small (01243 790532) |