Going to court over your children is likely to be one of the single most painful and nerve-wracking experiences of your life. I won’t sugarcoat it.
The thought that strangers – who don’t even know your child(ren) – could decide their future is enough to fill any parent with emotional dread. That’ can’t be denied.
FIrstly, I’ll say if you find yourself heading down this path, you will always be advised to try mediation first, but if that doesn’t work, sometimes the family courts are the only option.
And, once the actual court process is over, whether you’re the non-resident parent applying to see your children more, or the resident parent who has found themselves being taken to court by your ex, trust me, it might be the best thing that happened to you.
Here’s ten reasons why, if you’re taken to court by your ex, or are thinking of taking your ex to court you should hold your head up high and realise that getting a Child Arrangements Order does not have to be end of the world.
1 It gives stability for your children
The Court Order will give your children absolute stability. Court Orders are made with the best interests of the children at the heart of it. In the past you may have disagreed about the amount of time your child(ren) should spend with each of you, so it’s likely they won’t have had a routine – or your routine may have often been broken and swapped about.
With a Court Order, the children, you and your ex are instantly given a routine, and you’ve no choice but to follow it.
2 The threat of court is instantly gone
Chances are, your ex didn’t just one day take to you to court by surprise. He or she was probably threatening you with Court for months, years even. Now you’ve been and it’s over with, no longer can court proceedings be used as a weapon to harass and intimidate you. And if you are the parent who made the application, the decision over whether to do it or not has now been made and you can move on.
3 It’s an instant relief
You may dread the court date approaching, and each hearing is likely to be a horrendous experience you would not want to repeat. But when you walk out of those courtroom doors with a Child Arrangements Order – whether it’s exactly how you wanted it to be or not – I guarantee you will feel relieved.
You can now get back to doing what you do best – parenting, and everything else including work, which all took a back-seat whilst you went through this difficult time. No more statements to write, no more calls with solicitors, no more worrying about what may happen, because now you know the result.
4 You can go on holiday with your children
If a court Order isn’t in place, both parents must have the written permission of the other parent who has parental responsibility to take the child(ren) out of the UK for the purpose of a holiday. This can be almost impossible when separated parent’s don’t get on.
This all changes when a court Order is in place. Under a court Order, the resident parent can take the chid(ren) out of the country for up to 28 days without the permission of the other parent. So, even if the non-resident parent doesn’t like the idea of you going, he/she now can’t stop you.
If a non-resident parent takes a resident parent to court, this is one huge favour they’ve done them! All you do is take your Court Order with you to the airport as that proves you have the right to take them away without a letter of permission from the other parent.
The court Order also protects the non-resident parent too, because as part of the arrangements, the Order will list the holiday time the non-resident parent spends with their chid(ren) each year.
5 You can plan, plan plan
The Court Order will set out exactly when the resident parent has the child(ren) and the contact time the non-resident parent will spend with the child(ren.) Therefore you can plan well into the future now because you know exactly when your little ones will be with you and exactly when you will be childfree!
That Order gives you the confidence to make plans or book a holiday when the children aren’t with you because you know the other parent is bound by the Order to have them, and can’t change their mind at the last minute to upset your plans. Hello 2018 diary!
6 The arguments with your ex can finally stop
Crack open the champers! Unlike before where you argued over who had your child(ren) when, there’s now nothing to argue about because the child(rens) arrangements are binding in black and white.
You don’t need to dread events like Christmas, their birthday’s and school holidays, because it will all be laid out in your Order when you will get to spend time with your children. You don’t need to worry about your ex not bringing them home, because if they breach the Order you can legally get them back.
7 You can remove your ex from your life and finally move on
If you and your ex don’t get along, a Child Arrangements Order will allow you to remove them from your life as much as is possible. You no longer need to text to see what time they will be picking your child(ren) up, whether they want them a week on Friday, or whether they are going to definitely turn up to see their children.
The Order will tell you what you need to know and as a result you can reduce the contact and arguments with your ex.
8 It protects the children
This is so important and it’s what it’s designed to do. You can tell your children with confidence when they will be with you and when they will be with their other parent because you will both have to stick to the court Order so there can be no last minute let downs or failings to turn up. The children will soon learn the new routine and feel safe and secure within it because it won’t be ever-changing.
9 You can add special requests
You might want to make sure that Mum spends every Mother’s Day with the child(ren) and Dad spends every Father’s Day with the children – whatever the request, it can be added to a court Order.
10 It stops the lies
Has your ex ever told people “She/he stops me seeing them?” or “I’m not allowed to see my children?” If that’s the case you can freely tell people you now have a Court Order and the contact arrangements have been settled at Court and are fair and in the best interest of the children. End of.
And remember, Nothing is forever
If you aren’t entirely happy with your court Order, you can apply to vary it. It’s not set in stone and binding forever. Things change over time and you can have your court Order changed too. You don’t need to feel stuck with it because there will be changes as your children grow up.