Current law regards parents as the best people to decide on their children’s welfare, whether those parents are together, separated or divorced. The court does not intervene in these decisions unless there is no alternative. In the majority of divorces/ dissolutions no order is made about the children and the parents resolve all issues by agreement between themselves.
The old concepts of “custody” and “access” no longer exist within the law of England and Wales. Instead both parents have “Parental Responsibility” and are expected to make arrangements in the best interests of their children . These will almost always involve the children spending substantial time with each parent.
If the parents cannot agree about the arrangements for their children they are generally expected to try mediation and other non- court based solutions to help them to reach agreement. Ultimately if the parents still cannot agree then applications can be made to the court for “living with” and contact orders. Orders can be made for the children to live with each parent at different times.
The court also has power to make orders about particular issues when the parents cannot agree, for example, schooling or medical treatment. These are known as “specific issue” orders.
Sometimes when a marriage or relationship ends one parent wants to take the children away from the country where they have been living and move them to a different country. To do this they need either the permission of the other parent or the permission of the court. If the parents do not agree then an application can be made to the court for “permission to permanently remove”.
The outcome will be decided on the basis of what the court regards as being in the best interests of the children. We have very substantial expertise in these types of cases and expect to be able to give you a good indication at an early stage as to the likely result of such an application.