ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN – CHILD ARRANGEMENTS ORDER, PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY & CONTACT
Child arrangements are often referred to as “Custody” “Residency” and “Access”. Disputes between parents about where their children should live and how contact is to be arranged can become overwhelming. Father’s Rights and Mother’s Right are effectively equal at the outset. Sometimes an amicable solution between yourselves is simply not possible. We appreciate the decision to involve solicitors is not an easy one but sometimes it is the only option left.
Our solicitors have families too and with this in mind we work with clients sensitively to achieve practical and workable solutions that are in the best interests of your children.
To help you budget, we offer a competitive fixed-fee package to deal with child disputes which can be found in the “How we charge” section.
Disputes over children arise:
- During divorce, when parents are separating, a routine needs to be established for the children as to where they live and the amount of time they spend with the other parent.
- When unmarried parents simply cannot agree important things for their child such as which school they should attend and a specific issue order is needed.
- When grandparents are stopped from seeing their grandchildren
- When a parent is not complying with a court order for example not allowing the contact stipulated in the order.
- When there is a fear of child abduction and a Prohibited Steps order is necessary
HOW IS CONTACT AGREED? CAN MY CHILD LIVE WITH ME?
Each case involving children is unique. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your former spouse or partner, it is possible to ask the court to make a decision. The court firmly places the needs of the child first. It considers the Welfare Checklist:
- The wishes and feelings of the child
- The emotional, physical and educational needs of the child
- The likely effect a change in arrangements may have on the child
- Any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- The capability of parents to meet the child's needs
- Any other relevant characteristics eg. age, sex, background.
When we meet you, we will take the time to understand your situation fully so that we can give you an indication of the type of child arrangements a court may implement. This can act as a guide when discussing the issues with your former spouse or partner.
This is the legal right to make important decisions for your child. A mother automatically has parental responsibility. Married fathers and fathers who appear on the birth certificate for children born after 1st December 2003 also have parental responsibility. This means that you are recognised in the eyes of the law as having all the legal powers to make appropriate decisions in the upbringing of your child, such as decisions in respect of education, medical treatment and religious education etc.
Fathers that are not named on their child’s birth certificate or their child was born prior to the 2003 deadline do not have parental responsibility. It can be obtained by signing a parental responsibility agreement with all other persons who have parental responsibility for the child or by court order.
Before you can apply to court for a child arrangements order you must first attend family mediation unless you are exempt, for example because your matter is an emergency or there is domestic violence that would make attended mediation inappropriate. If you are not exempt you must attend. If mediation is successful the matter will end there by agreement, if no agreement is reached your mediator will provide you with a certificate to say you have tried and you can then proceed with making a court application.
If you are experiencing any of the problems above or if you have a different child issue, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist solicitors on the number above or by completing the online contact form.