Latest insights from our experts

Posted 14 November 2016
by Aimee Aspinall


One of the most frequent enquiries we receive relates to access to children after separation. It is preferable if parents can agree arrangements between them.

If you are unable to reach an agreement between you then you are encouraged to attend at mediation to discuss proposed arrangements. If you are not able to reach agreement during the mediation process then it is open to either party to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. Before you can apply to court you must be able to prove that you have considered attending mediation to resolve matters unless an exception applies.

When making an application for a Child Arrangements Order you are asking the court to decide:

  • Where your child(ren) will live
  • When your child(ren) will spend time with each parent
  • When and what other types of contact e.g. phone calls will take place

When a Court is making a decision on any matters that will have an effort on the child, the Courts will look at the welfare of child as the paramount concern. The Welfare Checklist consists of 7 criteria for the Courts to consider when making a decision:-

  • The wishes and feelings of the child concerned;
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the Court’s decision;
  • The child’s age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the Court’s decision;
  • Any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering;
  • Capability of the child’s parents at meeting the child’s needs
  • The powers available to the Court in the given proceedings.

The child’s Mother, Father or anyone with Parental Responsibility can apply for a Court order.

Parental Responsibility

When a child is born the mother automatically has Parental Responsibility. The Father does also but only if he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or subsequently marries the mother. If the parents are unmarried, the Father automatically has Parental Responsibility for the child if the child’s birth is registered after the 1 December 2003 and the Father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate. You do not lose Parental Responsibility if you get divorced or separate.
If you are experiencing difficulties in agreeing arrangements for your child(ren) then contact our specialists today to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.

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About the author

Aimee Aspinall

Chartered Legal Executive

Chartered Legal Executive in the Exeter family team