When you’re going through divorce it is quite natural to be worried about how your relationship with your children might change and how much time you will be able to spend together in future. You might also be afraid of losing contact with your children altogether.
Shared parenting arrangements, where children live part-time with both parents, are becoming increasingly common and even where this isn’t practical, there is a strong emphasis in current family law on putting the interests of the child first. In most cases this means ensuring the child can maintain a strong and meaningful relationship with both parents.
This is one reason why the term “custody” is no longer used in family law. People still talk about custody and access, whereas the courts refer to decisions about where your children will live as “child arrangements”. At Harrogate Family Law, we help parents sort out how to make choices that are in the best interests of the child. This can also include making sure your children continue to see members of the extended family, such as aunts and grandparents.
What does shared care mean?
Shared care does not have to mean strict 50/50 care. The arrangements can be whatever works best for the children and around the parents’ employment commitments. We can help you negotiate an outcome that everyone is happy with and this will involve looking at things like school holiday plans as well as everyday arrangements. Practical considerations will have a bearing on the decision making. If one parent works longer hours or lives some distance away, for instance, it may be that they are only available to care for the children at weekends or outside term-time.
Even in the most amicable cases, co-parenting negotiations can be emotive. We have a huge amount of experience in helping parents agree child arrangements and if one party is being unreasonable about when and how much time they feel the children should or should not spend with the other, we can help you resolve these issues.
There is a danger that the children themselves can become embroiled in the debate and it is not uncommon for conflict to result in arrangements being made that are far from satisfactory for the family as a whole. It is always better to take advice from us sooner rather than later to avoid this kind of scenario and prevent relationships being significantly damaged.
Will we have to go to court?
At Harrogate Family Law we are highly skilled negotiators and as a result about 95% of our cases settle outside of court. We are accustomed to assisting in cases where a parent is being difficult and we work closely with families to help parents and grandparents agree the arrangements which work for them and the children. We approach each case in a way which achieves the required outcome but prioritises and protects the welfare of the children. We have access to a range of options for reaching workable arrangements and close relationships with family counsellors to ensure families get the right support where needed.
If the court becomes involved in child arrangements, family judges understand the emotions involved in these cases and will want to try to build a full picture before making a judgement that they believe is in the best interests of the child. It is therefore important that the case is presented in the best way possible to achieve the desired outcome.
Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region). He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.
This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.