Prepared by His Honour Judge Coleridge, issued on behalf of all Family Judges and Family Magistrates who conduct family proceedings in the South West of England and promoted by District Judge Goddard of the Bath County Court is the following: ‘Guidance for Parents’.
The guidance was designed to help parents reach decisions about what is best for their children and to explain to parents what Family Courts expect from them. .
The court wants you to consider these things first:
- As a parent you share responsibility for your children.
- You have a responsibility to talk to each other and make every effort to agree how you will bring them up
- Even when you separate this responsibility continues.
- Experience suggests that where parents agree things about their children this works better than court orders. So try to agree arrangements for your children.
- If you find talking to each other difficult ask for help. Trained mediators can help you talk to each other to find solutions, even when things are hard. You can ring the Family Mediation Council helpline on 0844 556 7215 or visit the website at http://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/ for information or the court staff will give you details.
- If you have tried to agree but cannot, you can ask the court to decide what should happen.
- The court will make its decision based on what is in the best interests of the children.
- If a court order is made you must do what it says even if you do not agree with it. If you want to do something different you can agree to do so but if you cannot agree you will need to apply to court so that the court can consider making a different order.
The court expects you to make decisions based on what is best for your children so:
- Encourage your child to have a good relationship with both of you.
- Arrange for your children to spend time with each of you.
- Try to have a reasonable relationship with each other as parents of your children
- The court expects you to do what is best for your children even if it is difficult or not what you want:
- The law says that children have a right to a relationship and regular contact with each parent unless it is not in the children’s best interests. Usually contact will be frequent and meaningful for the child and the parent
- It is extremely rare for a court to order no contact but a court may restrict or deny contact if it considers that a child’s physical safety or emotional health is at risk.
- Stopping contact because for instance you feel you are not getting enough money from the other parent to look after the child is not a good reason to stop contact.