It is very important that the welfare of a child is the primary consideration when a family breaks up and parents get divorced. SA Law’s Family Team advise on issues involving Children including Child Arrangement Orders, Parenting Plans, Mediation, Prohibited Steps Orders, Specific Issues Orders & removal from England and Wales.
The Children Act and the Courts encourage settling issues concerning children through mutual agreement between the parents.
Mediation is one solution and it is now an expectation that you attend a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’ (MIAM) to determine whether mediation is appropriate in your case before issuing an application to the Court.
Parenting Plans are becoming increasingly popular in families where you are broadly in agreement as to the arrangements for their children but prefer to have a formal document to refer to which sets out the arrangements for the children. This can provide as little or as much detail as you choose so as to ensure that the arrangements work for you and your family. We can prepare the Parenting Plan and negotiate with the other parent (or their solicitor) where there are areas in dispute with the aim of reaching an agreement that you are both happy with without the need to issue proceedings at Court.
If an application is made to the Court, the following Orders are available:
1. CHILD ARRANGEMENT ORDERS
This is an order that sets out who a child is to live with and who they should spend time with. This type of order settles who a child is to live with if there is a dispute. Although less common, it is possible for the Order to state that the child will live with both parents between two homes and will stipulate when they are to live with each parent The Order can set out the duration and frequency of the time that the child will spend with each parent, as well as who is to collect and return the children. It can also include provisions for indirect contact, such as by telephone or skype and can settle any conditions which are in dispute.
2. PROHIBITED STEPS ORDERS
This is an order which prohibits a specified action by one parent. For example, it is used when one parent is proposing to move house with the children or take the children on holiday and the other parent does not agree.
3. SPECIFIC ISSUE ORDERS
This type of order can be positive and negative in its terms. It addresses issues that are not agreed between parents in the child’s upbringing or welfare. These include what school they should attend, whether to change their surname, whether they should have a major operation and so on. This order can also be used to ensure your former partner returns your children to you if they have been taken away.
The High Court has powers to make certain orders for children who have been taken into care, or are considered at risk. This effectively puts the child in the care of the High Court, who must give their permission for any action that may affect the child.
5. PERMANENT REMOVAL TO ANOTHER COUNTRY
Where both parents have parental responsibility a child permission is required before a child can be removed from the country on either an interim basis for a holiday, or on a permanent basis with the intention to relocate. However, if a parent has a Child Arrangement Order that stipulates that the child should live with them, this allows the parent with whom the child lives to take the child out of the country for up to one month without the consent of the other parent or the Court).
6. PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY ORDER
Parental Responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has in relation to a child. By way of example, someone with parental responsibility is able to be part of making decisions such as deciding which school they attend or consenting to medical treatment for the child.
You will automatically have Parental Responsibility for a child in the following circumstances:
- Mother’s automatically have parental responsibility;
- Father’s who are married to the Mother at the time a child is born;
- If the child is born after 1 December 2003, Father’s who are not married to the Mother but where they have been named as the Father on the child’s birth certificate;
- If you have a Child Arrangements Order naming you as the person with whom the children live, the Court should make a Parental Responsibility Order at the same time.
If the above does not apply to you, then you may not have Parental Responsibility. If the Mother does not agree to you having Parental Responsibility, we can help you to make an application to the Court. If the mother does agree, we can help you prepare a Parental Responsibility Agreement. There are various other ways that you can acquire PR, such as by marrying the Mother, or adopting the child and we can discuss with you.
Care Proceedings & Child Care Orders
We also have members of the team who can help you with issues and problems arising from local authority, care proceedings and child care orders.Click here for more information.