When relationships break down, children are sadly often caught in the middle. You should both work towards establishing a parenting agreement that will benefit your child. This is not about any other disagreement you may have. Although you may think that 'fighting' over your children shows them how much you love them, this is not the case. A child, like the courts, will be waiting for you to co-operate together. Arrangements which are agreed between you are more likely to be honoured.
Time is a healer; things will get better if you try to stop hurting each other. Try to do something constructive for your spouse, something that could build trust and co-operation. Stand back and reflect. Remember to see everything through the eyes of your child. However, if you cannot resolve matters between you, the court may need to intervene although this should be seen as a last resort. Before applying for a court order, most couples now need to show that they have attempted mediation. Please ask for further information regarding mediation.
If all else fails and agreement cannot be reached between you, you can apply for an order from the court.
Child Arrangements Orders
These orders, formerly known as Contact and Residence Orders, decide who the child is to live with and/or who the child will spend time with, and can be granted to more than one person whether they live together or not. If a child arrangements order states that the child will live with a person, that person will have parental responsibility for that child until the order ceases. Contact with a child can either be direct e.g. fact to face meetings, or indirect e.g. by letter or exchange of cards.
Some orders will make very specific arrangements for the child, other orders will be more open with detailed arrangements to be made between the parties by agreement. Child arrangements orders are not only made in respect of parents; there can also be orders for arrangements between siblings, and wider family members. Sometimes the order will give directions that contact is to be supervised by a third person, or that contact is to take place in a specific location.
Failure to comply with an order may result in the court making further orders specifying activities for a party to undertake or the court making other enforcement orders which can include an order for unpaid work.