If you and your ex-partner have children together, you must ensure you have made the necessary arrangements for their future care before you get divorced. If you fail to do so, the court will not issue a decree absolute. In this article we explore the different elements you will need to consider, including residence, contact and child maintenance. We also explain what to do if you are unable to reach these decisions of your own accord.Parenting agreements after divorce.When your marriage breaks down, it will undoubtedly be a difficult time for all the family, particularly for any children that are involved. To help reduce the stress and confusion young people often experience during a divorce, you need to make arrangements for their future domestic set-up as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
This will ensure a minimal amount of disruption to their lives.You and your ex-partner will, therefore, have to reach an agreement upon the following issues:-1. Residence: you must decide where your children are going live, and with which parent (who will then be known as the parent with residence). You may either agree that one parent should have sole residency, or you may believe shared residence is the best option, whereby a child lives with each parent for a specified amount of time.2. Contact: if there is just one parent with residence, you must decide when and how the other parent (known as the non-resident parent) can spend time with the children. For example, you may agree that the children will stay with their father every other weekend.3. Child maintenance: the non-resident parent is legally obliged to provide the resident parent with child maintenance. This is to contribute towards the costs of a child's upkeep, and should be paid at regular intervals. Parents may negotiate a sum of child maintenance, or they may ask the Child Support Agency (CSA) to calculate an appropriate amount on their behalf.
What if you cannot agree upon childcare arrangements?If, however, you and your ex-partner are unable to reach a decision upon any of the above, you must take steps to resolve your dispute. The first thing to do is to ask a family lawyer about methods of dispute resolution. Processes such as mediation and collaborative family law are becoming increasingly popular ways to resolve family disputes, as it avoids the need for litigation and promotes an amicable relationship between parents.Nevertheless, alternative dispute resolution does not work for every family. If so, the last option available is to pursue action through the courts in the form of a residence order or a contact order (depending upon the nature of your grievance). If you wish to do so, you must ask a solicitor for further advice.