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Hello. In this clip what I would like to do is talk about children, and in particular
the problems that might occur when parents separate. Now, specifically that relates to
residence and contact, commonly what people would call custody and access. From a legal
perspective it's often seen that at this difficult time what children need is stability and security.
That involves a home base. Now it may be for example that the children are looked after
by the Mother and she's the primary carer, but that is no to reduce the importance of
the fathers role in that stereotypical situation. Its very important that whilst a parent may
have rights to recognise that the children have rights to have a loving, ongoing relationship
to both parents. Invariably however where people do separate there is problems to do
with the relationship, be worries and anxieties to do with finances, and that can build and
manifest itself into problems with children. It is important that any issues are dealt
with swiftly and in the best possible way. The legal test really is 'what is in the best
interests of the children', and we have a checklist of factors and that goes to each
individual case looking at what is best to support the children in those particular circumstances.
There could be some geographical distance between the parents. There may not be. There
may be something to do with the age of the children. There could be a big difference
between children who are infants compared to children who are teenagers. We need to
look at the issues on an individual basis. I can be possible with the assistance of lawyers
or without the assistance of lawyers as to actually reach and agreement between the parents.
If there are difficulties then there can be correspondence to put forward certain proposals,
to reduce areas of conflict, and to promote an overall agreement. Where there are ongoing
problems however, or in urgent situations it may be necessary to make an application
to the court. The procedure and steps to be taken there largely consist of a first hearing.
Following a parents application the court will automatically list the case for a conciliation
appointment. Subject to local practice there will often be what is called a cafcas officer
present as well. In laymen's terms a welfare officer who may want to speak to the parents
together or separately to look at the welfare issues and to see whether or not an agreement
can be reached on that day. The parents will then attend before a judge privately and with
their legal representatives. The judge will want to know whats happening, whats agreed,
and what areas of the case remain disputed, and therefore what needs to be done. The directions
from the court moving forwards could include narrative statements so we know what the evidence
is. It could also include the need for a welfare report. the court may then list the case for
a review hearing which would take place after the evidence has been completed, and the report
also completed. Its important then to look at the issues in light of whats before the
court at that time, and in a lot of cases an agreement can actually be reached and an
order agreed and dealt with by consent. In those cases however, where the issues are
still difficult or it becomes complex for lots of different reasons then the court will
traditionally list it for a third hearing and that will be a final hearing. Were ultimately
a judge will hear oral evidence from the parties, consider welfare reports that are available,
and make a final decision. Thank you.