Divorce and child disputes can be contentious. Ideally, separating couples should find a solution that is in the best interests of their children, when deciding how much time they spend with each parent. If parents cannot settle a dispute between themselves or via family lawyers, either parent can make a court application.
Divorce and child disputes can be stressful and emotional. Submitting an application to the courts to resolve child disputes adds to the strain. If you’re unable to agree on child arrangements with the other party, be prepared for a potentially lengthy and time consuming process, which could take years.
If you want to make an application to the court to settle child disputes, a judge will assign a dedicated social worker – known as a Cafcass officer – to your case. In March 2019, Cafcass received 4,166 new, private law children act cases – an increase of 18 percent compared with March 2018.
The rising numbers appear to indicate that separating couples are increasingly applying to the courts to decide on child arrangements. As a result, cases are taking longer to process, something you should be aware of if you’re considering a court application.
Try to settle divorce and child disputes between you
Holland Family Law will always encourage separating couples to resolve divorce and child disputes between themselves or via divorce lawyers. This keeps your case out of the courts, cuts cost and reduces the strain and emotion on what is already a highly stressful situation. More importantly, parent resolution is much better for the children.
However, we understand that some cases may require court intervention. The most common disputes often centre on who should be the child’s main carer and how often each parent should see the children.
Holland Family Law can explore mediation with you to resolve these issues, but if this is not an option, an application to the court may have to be made.
What the court will look at to settle divorce and child disputes
The court will consider the following when assessing your case:
- The age of the child(ren)
- A child’s background
- The risk of the child(ren) suffering harm
- The feelings and wishes of the child(ren)
It’s possible that the court will ask what the feelings of the child(ren) are. This will be done through your appointed Cafcass officer. The officer will speak to both parents and the child(ren) if they’re old enough. Once your Cafcass officer has spoken to each parent and the child(ren), a report will be prepared with recommendations for child arrangements.
It is highly likely that the judge or magistrate ruling on your case will follow the recommendations made by your appointed Cafcass officer. After the Cafcass report, there will usually be a short hearing. The hearing is an opportunity for parents to consider the details of the report and reach an agreement.
If an agreement is achieved at this stage, there will be no need for a final contested hearing.
An order for Child Arrangements can be made by the court, which will manage where the child will be resident. The Child Arrangements order will also include contact arrangements with the non-resident parent.