4 tips to help you navigate the choppy waters of child arrangements

If you are struggling to come to an out of court child care agreement with your former partner, you may be understandably concerned about how the court comes to a decision on child arrangements and how much you will see of your child/children following your separation.  This is often a particular worry for fathers who may feel that they will come off worse in any court decision.

Many people assume that the court will automatically rule in favour of the mother. This is definitely not the case. Courts make their decision purely on what they see as being in the best interests of the child, and each case is different.  The law itself does not impose bias but there has been a view in the past that courts made decisions based on bias existing in society in terms of whether the mother or father is the main caregiver.  However, as workplace roles have changed so have the roles of parents.  This is now taken into consideration by the courts and no assumptions are made.  Decisions are made only on what is in the best interests of the child.

Having said this, there are things that you can do to present yourself in a good light to the court. Rachel Macwilliam, solicitor in our family law team has these suggestions:

  1. Behave like a grown up and be kind to your Ex
    Even where a relationship has irretrievably broken down, it is important to be able to rise above any acrimony. You will both always be parents to your child, and it will damage your child as well as your own health if you are consumed by hatred for each other. Be careful of using your child as a weapon against your former partner.  Behave respectfully and it will reflect well on you and your ability to manage the situation as far as the court is concerned.
  2. Ensure you have a healthy/ safe home for your child
    If the court is going to approve an arrangement for shared care, they’ll need to feel that you can provide a healthy and safe environment for your child.  The court will ask about the living arrangements you are able to provide.  This doesn’t mean that your accommodation has to be five star, just that you can give the child a place where they will be warm, safe and comfortable.
  3. Contribute your share without complaining
    If you are seen as not contributing your fair share to the cost of bringing up your child before you separate, it’s not going to look great if this is raised during a court hearing. Pay promptly and without moaning whether it be for new school shoes, swimming lessons or birthday celebrations. This is not the time to be tight-fisted. 
  4. Highlight the strong relationship you have with your child/children
    This can be anything from attending special events e.g. a swimming gala or birthday parties, through to more everyday activities such as bike rides, baking, playdates, days at the beach and helping them with their school work. Get to know their teachers and attend school events whenever you can. Basically, be a good parent.

More information
If you would like more information about divorce and child care, there are several posts on our blog on this topic.

Get in touch
If you need legal advice relating to divorce and separation our experienced and friendly family law team at Penderlaw would be glad to help.  Just call us on 01872 241408 or email us family@penderlaw.co.uk