When a relationship breaks down, are a number of difficult decisions have to be made. Where there are children involved, decisions about their lives can be even more difficult. Decisions need to be made about where the children will live and how long they will spend with each parent. It is important to try and decide this as amicably as possible for your children.
So how is this done?
If you have agreed on what arrangements you will make for your children, you don’t have to have official paperwork. You can simply agree a plan between the two of you. However, you can make your agreement legally binding by drafting it into a ‘consent order’ and asking a judge to approve it.
Your draft consent order can detail where your children will live, how long they will spend with each of you and other types of contact like phone calls or FaceTime. It can also be useful to agree how school holidays will be spent and how special occasions like birthdays and religious festivals like Christmas will be arranged. Having these agreements made in advance can avoid future tension and ensure that everybody involved knows what’s going to happen.
The practicalities of getting a consent order involve one of you filling in a C100 form. You will be able to tick a box which says that you’re ‘applying for an order to formalise an agreement (consent order)’. This shows the judge that you agree. You should lodge the C100 with the court, 3 copies of it and your draft consent order signed by both of you.
What happens then?
You won’t usually need to go to court. A judge will look at your consent order and approve it if they think you’ve made decisions that are in the best interests of your children. At The Divorce Surgery we can help you by assessing what a judge is likely to think is in the best interests of your children so that you can apply with confidence.
If you are struggling to agree on how your children will spend their time, the traditional route is to apply to the court and let a Judge decide. This means one of you making a C100 application for a ‘child arrangements order’. If your wife or husband disagrees they will have the opportunity to contest the application. You might both need to go to court a number of times and if you both have lawyers this can become a very expensive undertaking. The court has the power to make the decisions it thinks are in the best interests of your children, whether or not you agree.
At The Divorce Surgery, we can still help even if you don’t initially agree. We can listen to what you each would most like to achieve and can advise on what a Judge is likely to think is the best outcome. This can avoid the adversarial and expensive process of arguing the matter in court. We tell you the most likely outcome and put you in a position where you are informed on how to proceed. If you come to an agreement based on this advice, we can draft a consent order.