When parents separate, it can be difficult for them to reach an agreement about where the children should live and how much time the children should spend with the non-resident parent.
If parents cannot reach an agreement, it may be necessary for a parent to make an application to the court for an order resolving the issue in dispute. To apply for a court order, the parent will need to have parental responsibility for the child. If the parent does not have parental responsibility then they may need to apply to the court for permission to apply for children act orders.
Parental responsibility effectively means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. The child’s mother will automatically have parental responsibility. The child’s father will have parental responsibility if he was married to the mother, named on the child’s birth certificate (for births registered after 1st December 2003), has entered a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, or has been granted parental responsibility by a court order.
There are three main types of orders in relation to children:
- Child Arrangement Orders can incorporate the following: a) a live provision to set out with which parent the child/ren should live. b) It is also possible to have a shared care order between the parents. c) Contact arrangements to set out when the child will spend time with or stay overnight with the other parent. d) The order will often set out the arrangements for contact and how often contact is to take place (a ‘defined contact order’).
- Specific issue orders:
This order will deal with a specific issue that has arisen in relation to the child, such as where a child should go to school or what religion a child should follow.
- Prohibited steps orders:
This order will prevent a parent from taking a specific action in relation to a child, such as changing their surname or removing them from the UK.
Whenever the court consider any issue concerning the child, their paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. There is a No Order Principle enshrined within the Children Act and the courts will not make an order for contact or residence unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. The court will appoint a Cafcass Officer (Court Officer) to investigate the matter thoroughly and make recommendations. Their recommendations are usually followed by the court when the judge makes a decision.
We can help you by:
- Corresponding with the child’s father/mother to reach an agreement about contact or residence issues
- Preparing a court application if agreement cannot be reached swiftly
- Advising on Mediation services if appropriate
- Defending a court application for contact or residence
- Advising you on the court process and what to expect
- Helping you consider shared residence arrangements
- Helping you negotiate when and where contact can take place
- Dealing with any specific issues that arise relating to the child’s care or upbringing
- Advising you of the likely legal costs involved