Parenting arrangements after divorce or separation
Many parents are able to make effective arrangements between themselves following a divorce or separation, but others may need some help. These are important decisions for all the family, with lots of things to consider, so it may take time to find an arrangement that works for you all.
When an arrangement is made you should all be clear about what’s going to happen and you should write down what you’ve agreed. This is called making a parenting plan. It will be useful to refer back to this in the future, if you can’t remember what you agreed or something isn’t working. Be aware that although something is written down it doesn’t make it legally binding.
You should be prepared to review arrangements as your child grows up and circumstances change, as older children are likely to need more flexibility. If it’s in your child’s best interest to change the arrangement, and you all agree, you can do so at any time.
What to do if you can’t agree or your child arrangements are not working?
The decisions you make don’t have to be set in stone. If you’re struggling to reach an agreement or aren’t sure what will work, suggest trying an arrangement and setting a date to review it. If you need more help agreeing child arrangements, you can go to mediation. It’s much easier and cheaper than going to court for help. A mediator is someone who will try to help you reach an agreement together.
If your arrangements aren’t working you can try to sort out something different by yourselves, or go back to mediation at any time. If you and your ex-partner have tried and failed lots of times to agree, you’ll need to go to court for a decision that you’ll both have to stick to.
Taking a child abroad
Depending on whether your child’s other parent has parental responsibility, you may need consent to take your child abroad. If your child has a relationship with their other parent and sees them regularly, let them know the travel arrangements, even if you don’t need their consent.
Further help and advice:
www.cafcass.gov.uk - information about parenting plans.
www.gingerbread.org.uk - information for single parents. If you don’t have internet access you can call their helpline, 0808 802 0925
www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk - database of local mediators
Uttlesford Citizens Advice offer advice on benefits, housing and legal issues. A number of local solicitors offer support for our clients or may provide free initial interviews; please call us to discuss your situation.
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