If you and your ex-partner agree about where your children will live, and how often and when they will spend time with their non-resident parent, you do not have to complete any official paperwork. However, many separated couples find it helpful to write down what has been agreed in a Parenting Plan, so that the agreement they have come to is recorded clearly. You can find more information on this here: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/divorce-and-separation/parenting-plan/.
Sometimes, parents want to make an agreement legally binding. To do this, a document has to be prepared, and a Judge at court has to be asked to review the document, and seal it so that it is binding. It is best to ask a solicitor to help prepare a document like this. If you would like any help or advice in relation to preparing a document like this, you can contact our Polly Barklem on 0203 519 3919 or by email: [email protected]
If it is impossible for parents to reach an agreement, they may have to go to court to ask a Judge to decide. An application for a Child Arrangements Order has to be made. This is filed at the court nearest to where the child lives.
Once this application has been made, there will be at least one hearing where each parent explains the child arrangements they believe to be in the best interest of the child. A Judge, or sometimes Magistrates, will try to help the parents reach an agreement. If an agreement is not possible, the court will order the child arrangements that it considers will be best for the child.