The breakdown of a relationship is always a difficult experience, particularly when there are children to think about. You only want what’s best for them, but amidst the fallout, wires can become crossed and it’s not always the case that both parents see eye to eye.
At DRN, we have a dedicated team of experts in family and children matters, who have set out some advice below for those struggling with child arrangements.
What are child arrangements?
Child arrangements were previously referred to by the courts as “contact arrangements”. When a relationship breaks down, the parents involved will need to reach an agreement on the arrangements for their child, including which parent the child will live with and how often the other parent will spend time with the child.
‘Direct arrangements’ between a parent and child refers to any time spent face-to-face, and can include during the daytime or overnight.
‘Indirect arrangements’ is the term used for any occurrences where the parent might keep in touch with the child without physically visiting them. This can include engaging in telephone conversations, email or written letter exchanges or the sending of gifts.
Who is entitled to spend time with a child?
Contrary to popular belief, having parental responsibility and/or being named on a child’s birth certificate does not give an automatic right to spend time with a child. Any arrangements should be agreed on the terms of what is best for the child, not the parent, or any other person.
In cases of separation, the parent the child lives with can usually make arrangements for time which the other parent should spend time with their child. Any arrangements should usually only be restricted in instances where it is felt necessary to safeguard the child.
Agreements can be outlined for any person who maintains a close relationship with the child, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and close friends.
In most cases, both parents are able to reach an amicable agreement and arrange time on terms which suit both parties. However, if this is not the case, it may become necessary to seek legal advice, and the expert solicitors at DRN can help.
What if my child is not picked up or brought home on time?
Both parents should try to stick to the agreed times for pick-up and drop-off to the best of their ability, although some understanding on either part should be given for delays caused by public transport, traffic or emergency.
The parent of my child has not made a maintenance payment – are they still entitled to contact?
Issues relating to child maintenance and issues related to child arrangements are seen as entirely separate from one another in the eyes of the law. For this reason, you will not be justified in refusing the non-resident parent time with their child on the basis that they have not paid maintenance for the child.
I need further advice – what should I do next?
With an understanding of all policies and procedures involved, your DRN solicitor will be able to provide sound advice and guidance throughout the process of settling your child arrangement issues, along with expert legal representation and an entirely confidential and reliable service. Get in touch today for more information about our services and find out how we can help you to achieve a favourable outcome.