At Broadway Solicitors we recognise that when children are involved in the breakdown of a relationship, it can be especially emotional for all involved. We can help steer and support you through the difficult process of determining what current and future arrangements should be made for the child whether this is done by assisting you in reaching an agreement with your former spouse or partner, guiding you through the mediation process or representing you in court.. Whatever path you choose to take, it is important to remember that the court will want to ensure that the child is safeguarded and is not exposed to adult conflict and will always treat the best interests of the child as its paramount consideration.
Aspects that we regularly advise on include:
Child Arrangements Order
A child arrangements order sets out in as much or as little detail as is necessary the living and visiting arrangements for a child. The order may specify who the child lives with and who the child visits, including days, times and locations for the same or that a child is to only have indirect contact with a parent through cards, letters and/or small gifts.
There is a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to have some form of contact/relationship with both parents and that both parents should be involved in the child’s upbringing. This presumption does not mean that the terms of the parental involvement should be the same or even that the child should spend time with both parents if this is not in the child’s best interests. The court may, at its discretion, make an order that there be no contact.
Prohibited Steps Order
A prohibited steps order is where the court prevents a certain action. A prohibited steps order may be necessary where there is a fear that the non-resident parent will remove or attempt to remove the child from the care of the resident parent and/or from England and Wales without the consent of the resident parent or the permission of the court.
Specific Issue Order
When an issue arises concerning a child which the parents cannot agree upon, for example, regarding where a child is to be educated, what religion the child is to be brought up in, whether the child is to follow a certain type of diet, what name a child is to have, or whether a child is to receive a certain type of medical treatment then an application can be made to the court to determine the issue.
When relationships between parents breaks down and the parents are from different towns, cities or countries one parent may wish to return with the child to their place of origin for support and comfort. If the non-resident parent does not consent to the relocation, then the resident parent/primary carer will need to make an application to the court for permission to relocate with the child
If the resident parent/primary carer removes the child from England and Wales without consent of the other parent or a court order and remains outside the country for more than 28 days, this will amount to child abduction (and may be a criminal offence) and proceedings may be brought for the return of the child. The non-resident parent will need to take action as soon as the child is not returned (or it becomes evident that the intention is to remain elsewhere with the child). Broadway solicitors can advise and represent you at Court with this.
Parental responsibility is defined as “All the rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of the child has in relation to a child and his property”. When a decision has to be taken about the upbringing of a child everyone with parental responsibility should have a say.
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for the child. If you are the father of a child and you were not married to the mother when the child was born and you are not named on the child’s birth certificate, you do not automatically have parental responsibility. You will need to enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or seek a court order. You will also need to do this if you have a child and are in a same-sex relationship.
If the child was born on or after the 1st December 2003 and an unmarried father is named on the birth certificate, he will automatically have parental responsibility for the child.
Wardship and Inherent Jurisdiction
Most issues regarding the care of and protection of a child can be resolved under the Children Act; however, where this is not the case, the High Court can exercise its ‘inherent jurisdiction’ to make a wide range of orders for protection of a child, including making the child a ‘ward’ of the court, which will give the court parental responsibility of the child. The use of wardship and inherent jurisdiction generally arises in child abduction proceedings.