What to do if you cannot agree arrangements for your children's care
In general terms there is a ‘no Order presumption’, which means that the Court will not make Orders unless it is in the child’s best interests to do so. Accordingly, if parents agree where children should live and how often contact should take place then there is no need to apply for any Court Orders at all.
If you are not able to agree then you should firstly consider attending mediation with your former partner to see if any issues can be resolved. In fact, the court require you to at least have attended a Mediation information meeting (MIAMS) before you issue a court application, unless the situation is extremely urgent.
If you do need to apply to the Court, Child Arrangement Orders can regulate with whom a child is to live and when they spend time, or otherwise have contact, with a person. If you are the named person with whom a child is to live in a Child Arrangement Order, then this would entitle you to take the child abroad for up to one month without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the Court. If you are not a parent named as the person with whom a child lives under a Child Arrangement Order, then you would not have that right. In that case, if you wish to take your child abroad for a holiday then you would need the other parent’s consent or you would have to apply to the Court for what is known as a Specific Issue Order.
There are several types of contact that can be ordered by the Court, including direct and indirect contact. Indirect contact may be by way of letter, email, Skype or telephone. The Court may also order overnight or visiting contact arrangements, supervised and unsupervised contact arrangements. Child Arrangement Orders usually come to an end when a child reaches the age of 16 years but can continue until a child is 18 years old in exceptional circumstances, and the Court can stipulate the duration of the Child Arrangement Order.