It is natural to be worried about where your children will live and how much time they are going to spend with you after divorce or separation. Children living part-time with each parent, known a shared parenting arrangement, is becoming more common although this isn’t always practical.

People still talk about custody and access, although the courts now refer to decisions about where your children will live and how much time they spend with each parent as “child arrangements”.  At Harrogate Family Law, we help you sort out how to make choices that are in the best interests of your children. This can include making sure your children continue to see members of the extended family, such as grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Can we agree things between ourselves?

You may manage to agree things between yourselves, or with help from us. In fact, the court expects you to come up with a plan. If you can’t agree, we can help with negotiations or, mediation may be helpful. We try to avoid asking the court to make a decision, if at all possible, because the outcome can be hard to predict.

Are your children’s wishes taken into consideration?

Family courts now assume that both of you will be involved in your children’s care and upbringing, but this isn’t a presumption that the children will spend equal time with both of you.

When it comes to living arrangements, practical considerations will have a significant bearing. School days, out of school commitments and your working hours will all need to be factored in.

If you are attempting to agree the arrangements, we will help you consider all the factors to come to a workable agreement.

If the court becomes involved, a court adviser may talk to your children to find out what their wishes and feelings are. This doesn’t mean your children will be asked to choose between you. Family judges are well aware of the emotions involved and will want to build a full picture before making a decision that they believe is in the best interests of your children.

What if our circumstances change?

Life moves on and the arrangements made immediately after separation may need to be renegotiated later. One of you may want to move home, move to a new area, financial circumstances or health may alter, or there could be decisions to make about your children’s education or care. Co-parenting is an ongoing process and as parents you will need to discuss all sorts of issues such as discipline, allowing your children to travel abroad, making decisions about medical treatment or funding extracurricular activities. As experts in this area, we specialise in providing legal advice to parents when issues such as these arise. We are experienced negotiators and can support you in discussions with the other parent, helping you reach a decision that puts your children’s needs first.

To chat to one of our friendly solicitors call us today on 01423 594680.

Laura Mounsey is a family lawyer with experience of working on cases involving properties, trusts, businesses and pensions.  Laura is a dedicated and talented lawyer who has been recognised with a “Safe Pair of Hands” Award.

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