When a relationship breaks down, the future practical and financial arrangements for the children must be considered. We can assist you in a sympathetic and understanding way in relation to all disputes concerning your children including the following:
- Parental responsibility
- Child arrangements including residence and contact
- Child maintenance
- Specific issue orders
- Prohibited steps orders
- Contact with grandparents
All mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility upon the birth of their child (with specific exceptions in respect of surrogacy matters). However, as a father, you are not automatically assured Parental Responsibility unless you are married to the mother of your child at the time of the child’s birth, or in the case of unmarried parents, as a father, you are specifically named on the child’s birth certificate.
Parental Responsibility is a vital for every parent to ensure that they are involved in their child’s upbringing. Parental Responsibility enables you, as a parent to make decisions about your child’s welfare, religion, medical treatment and schooling, amongst other things.If you do not fall into either category above and want to have a say in your child’s upbringing you can talk to us about entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother of your child or obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.
Sometimes, even when an agreement has been made, contact arrangements can become disjointed which can often lead to upset not only to the parent whose contact time has been interfered with, but the children as well. If you have found yourself in the unfortunate situation whereby you have exhausted all attempts with your ex-partner to come to an agreement as to where the children should live or what contact arrangements you should have, you may wish to explore your options via formal proceedings.
The court can order residence orders including shared residence which enables both parent’s equal responsibility and it can also order formal contact arrangements for non-resident parents, which is helpful if you are finding yourself in a situation where your contact time is suddenly changed or revoked altogether often at short notice.
Prohibited Steps and Specific Issue Orders
Separated parents can often have conflicting ideas as to what is in the best interests of their children. There are various options that you may wish to consider to ensure that you have input on the important decisions in respect of your child’s upbringing.
When a parental relationship has broken down, sometimes the most appropriate and practical requirement is an order from the court. A Prohibited Steps Order is an order from the court to prevent particular steps being taken by one parentwithout the consent of the court. For example, if you are concerned that your ex-partner will remove the children from the jurisdiction without your permission, this is the order which you would apply for. Similarly, a Specific Issue Order determines how the children will be raised in respect of a specific point. For example, some unmarried parents who have subsequently separated, cannot agree what name the child will be known by. Other separated parents cannot agree which school their children will go to or what medical treatment they will receive.
If communication has broken down with your ex-partner or spouse and you simply cannot agree as to how your children should be raised, who they should live with or how much contact each parent should have, come and speak to our family team to discuss the options available to you. We will talk you through your options and explain the pros and cons of coming to an agreement with your ex, or issuing formal proceedings at court and explain to you the role of CAFCASS (Children and Family court Advisory and Support Service).
The separation of parents not only affects the children of the family but the wider family members too. In particularly acrimonious separations, grandparents can be drawn into family disputes and unfairly denied contact with their grandchildren. Unfortunately as a grandparent you do not have automatic rights, however the courts do recognise the importance of the role of grandparents to a child’s upbringing and therefore you are able to apply for permission from the court to apply for a child contact order.
If you are a grandparent who has been affected by the breakdown of a family relationship, you can call us today to discuss your options and what is involved in making an application for permission to the court.
For information on costs please see Divorce Costs.