I Want Access to my Children………Don’t I?

People often make enquiries saying that they want custody of/access to their children and continue to talk about custody and access throughout their case. In fact, there have been no such legal concepts since the advent of the Children Act 1989, in 1991 and relatively few orders are made regarding children following separation/divorce these days.

Our Family Law expert, Joanna Toloczko says “When I first started my career in Family Law, the Judge had to give consideration to the arrangements for the children in every divorce case and the divorce could not proceed unless the judge was satisfied with those arrangements. Very often formal orders regarding custody, care and control and access to the children were made, even when the parents were in agreement. These days, the emphasis is on the parents reaching agreement between themselves and the court will not consider the arrangements for the children automatically as part of the divorce. In the vast majority of cases, no order is ever made. This is largely due to Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 which states that the Court should not make an order regarding a child unless it is satisfied that making the order will be better for the child than making no order at all”.

The Court is there, as a last resort, for those couples who cannot agree the arrangements, but your application will not be for custody or access. The Children Act 1989 introduced new concepts of residence and contact – but those concepts have disappeared without the general public ever really becoming aware of them. In April 2014 Child Arrangements Orders replaced residence and contact orders. Now, your application will be for a Child Arrangements Order – live with or a Child Arrangements Order – spend time with.

For queries relating to Family Law please contact Joanna Toloczko at Meaby&Co on jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk or call 020 7703 5034.

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