Upon separation, the arrangements for a child/ any children will need to be considered. The Court can assist in this respect if an agreement cannot be reached between the parents and a Child Arrangements Order can be made. The Order would usually set out with whom the children live, and with whom they spend time with, and for what period of time.
Whilst the Court considers the wishes and feelings of the child/children concerned, among other factors, if there are Court proceedings about the arrangements for the children, their wishes and feelings are not determinative. However, the older the children are, usually, the more weight their views carry.
Will Children Attend Court Hearings?
Within the proceedings, the Court may order that a Cafcass Officer prepares a report considering the arrangements for the children further. The Cafcass Officer would usually speak to the children in order to further consider the way forward and ascertain their views. Cafcass are an independent body of social workers and are trained to speak to children in an appropriate and sensitive way.
Read more about CAFCASS.
Usually, children would not attend the Court hearings or be required to give evidence with the proceedings. That being said, in certain cases, the Court may also consider the children being joined to the proceedings, and there being a separate representative for the children within the proceedings, so that their views can be considered further. Their views would be put forward by a children’s Guardian.
Read more about Child Inclusive Mediation.
The Court would usually wish for disputes to be resolved outside of the Court arena, and mediation is to be considered before a Court application is issued. It is now possible for children to be invited to be involved in the mediation process, so that the parents can hear what the children have to say.
Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice provides expert assistance in relation to disputes about the arrangements for children, whether in Court proceedings or not, and can provide further details about Mediation involving children.
T: 029 2034 2233
Author: Rhys Evans