“The purpose of this amendment is to reinforce the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both parents after family separation, where that is safe, and in the child’s best interests. It is not the purpose of this amendment to promote the equal division of a child’s time between separated parents.”
On 22nd April 2014, the Children and Families Act 2014 came into force. The Act introduces Child Arrangement Orders and we therefore say ‘goodbye’ to Residence and Contact Orders (Children Act 1989) and ‘hello’ to Child Arrangement Orders (Children and Families Act 2014). Residence and Contact Orders replaced what was previously known as ‘Custody’ and ‘Access’. The Children Act 1989 also brought the potential for ‘Shared Residence Orders’. Child Arrangement Orders will now replace Residence and Contact Orders.
Child Arrangement Orders:
““Child Arrangements Order” means an order regulating
arrangements relating to any of the following—
(a) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise
have contact, and
(b) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have
contact with any person;”.(Children and Families Act 2014, Section 12, (3) )
A Child Arrangement Order is as an Order which will regulate arrangements relating to whom a child should live with, spend time with, or have other types of contact with. The Child Arrangement Order will in practice, have the same effect as a Residence or Contact Order.
The welfare of the Child will still be the Courts paramount consideration.
The focus of Child Arrangement Orders is placed on the content of the Order, with the Child being the main focus, rather than the title of the Order. It is felt by some that the terminology under the Children Act 1989, with the use of ‘Residence Orders’ and ‘Contact Orders’, implied that there was a “winner” and a “loser”. The changes are hoped to encourage parents to focus on creating an environment which best suits their child’s needs rather than pursuing lengthy and acrimonious litigation via the Court.
The Children and Families Act (Section 10) makes it compulsory for those intending to apply to the Court for Orders in relation to children (Private Law Proceedings), to attend mediation (MIAM) before issuing an application. If the Court is not satisfied that mediation has been attempted, applications will not be issued by the Court.
Continued Parental Involvement:
The Children and Families Act 2014 (Section 11) attempts to encourage Parents that it is in the child’s best interests to have an ongoing involvement with both Parents upon separation. Some refer to this as being a controversial approach.
“A court, in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (7), is as
respects each parent within subsection (6)(a) to presume, unless the
contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent in the life of the child
concerned will further the child’s welfare.
In subsection (2A) “involvement” means involvement of some kind,
either direct or indirect, but not any particular division of a child’s
time.” Children and Families Act 2014, Section 11 2 (2A and 2B)
However, the Act does not seek to suggest a presumption of an equal divide between parents.
Section 13 (1) of the Children and Families Act 2014 seeks to regulate the expert evidence which is placed before the Court. All Parties are required to seek the permission of the Court prior to filing expert evidence. Permission will also need to be sought before a child is medically examined in relation expert evidence.
If you have any queries regarding children matters, separation, divorce or financial matters, please contact our offices on 01206 764477 and a member of our family team will be happy to assist you.