It seems that parenting apart is becoming more common. Parents are separating and children often find they have two homes instead of one.

Results were published in July of this year from a survey carried out in 2011 entitled Dependant Children with a Parental Second Address. 386,000 of the 12.1 million dependant children in England and Wales had a second address belonging to their other parent or guardian. This is the first survey of its kind and therefore cannot be compared with any previous figures.

The survey also considered the children by age group and local authority. It is interesting to note for the age group of children between 10 and 14 years, that the Ribble Valley here in Lancashire had the highest proportion of dependant children with second parental addresses.

It is clear that we live in an age and a society where parents are separating, for one reason or another, and are having to parent apart.

Many parents struggle to agree arrangements for when and how often a child will spend time with the other parent. This makes parenting apart all the more difficult. When negotiations break down parents often feel the need to seek advice in relation to their legal rights.

Obtaining legal advice is the first step to understanding what options are best for the individual and their unique circumstances. An application to the Court must be a last resort and it is important to remember that the Court’s paramount concern is whether the arrangements are in the best interests of the child.

There are a number of alternatives to litigation that parents can consider. Mediation is a process whereby both parents will be encouraged to reach an agreement following a meeting with an independent, legally qualified mediator. Collaborative Law is a similar process where each party will have their own specially trained solicitor.

If all else fails an application can be made to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order. In order to make this application nearly every parent must now be able to demonstrate that they have at least attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM).

If you need legal advice in relation to arrangements for children or require representation in relation to an application for a Child Arrangements Order please contact one of our specialist family lawyers on 0845 050 1958 or email us.