Q: The Easter holiday was a nightmare for me. My ex would not help with childcare and so I had to spend a fortune on holiday club fees. Unless something changes I may have to quit my job to look after the children through the summer holidays. Is there anything I can do legally to make him help out?
A: Yours is a common problem which single parents suffer regularly. Although it is an unusual application to make, you could make an application to the Court under the Children Act to ask the Court to Order your ex -partner to care for the children at specific times. When considering whether to make the Order, the Court would look at the provisions set out in the Children Act and particularly they must ensure that any Order they make is in the best interests of the children. To determine this the Court would consider (1) the wishes of the children (taking into consideration their ages and level of understanding), (2) the children’s emotional and educational needs, (3) the likely effect on the children of any change of circumstances, (4) the children’s age, sex, background or any characteristics that the Court considers relevant, (5) any harm the children have suffered or may be at risk of suffering, (6) the capability of each parent in being able to meet the children’s needs.
Before making an application to the Court you must make an appointment with a local Mediator to undertake a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The Mediator will assess whether mediation is appropriate and if it is then it is advisable to attempt resolution through mediation. If mediation breaks down or your ex does not attend, you could then make an application to the Court. Depending on your circumstances Legal Aid may be available for Mediation and your legal fees.
(Article published June 2017)