When two parents no longer cohabit, or if they have never lived together, it is important that there is an agreement on where their child or children will live, and how often the non-resident parent will have access to them.
Contact between a child and an adult can come in many different forms including:
- Direct face to face contact
- Indirect contact (letter writing or sending cards)
- Supervised contact (this can be at a contact centre)
- Overnight contact
- Contact via electronic means (Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime and email)
It is often difficult to come to an arrangement that satisfies both parents, especially when this involves parents having extended periods of time without contact with their children.
If you are struggling to come to a suitable arrangement regarding your child, the first step is to try mediation. We can advise on this process, letting you know what to expect and helping prepare you for your Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). If mediation is not suitable for you, it may be appropriate to seek a Child Arrangement Order at Court. The Child Arrangement Order will regulate the contact arrangements for the child.
These orders determine when and for how long a child resides with each parent, taking into account the child’s wishes, welfare, and their emotional and educational needs, as well as the suitability of each parent for meeting those needs. Should you be considering this option, it is important to seek advice from a qualified and accredited Solicitor to ensure you are fully aware of your rights and legal options.
Specific Issue Orders
Specific Issue Orders are another type of order that can be sought from Court, to resolve a specific question or scenario. A Specific Issue Order can address sensitive topics like whether a child should have a religious or non-religious education, whether they should have a particular medical treatment, or whether they should change their name.
Prohibited Steps Order
Similar to a Specific Issue Order, a Prohibited Steps Order prevents a parent from taking an action that the Court deems to be detrimental to the child’s welfare. This can range from taking the child to live permanently abroad to preventing an individual from having contact with the child.
Special Guardianship Orders
A Special Guardianship Order is put in place when a child cannot live with their birth parents. It appoints an individual as a “special guardian” to the child, conferring parental responsibility on them and giving them many rights to make decisions on the child’s behalf while giving the child security and stability.
Parents and special guardians have what is called “parental responsibility” – the right to decide certain decisions on behalf of a child. When more than one person has parental responsibility for a child (for example, their two parents), these individuals must agree on the decisions made for that child. Decisions can include where a child lives, how they are educated and whether they can leave the country. If the parents cannot agree and mediation does not work, these decisions can ultimately be decided by the Court.
What We Can Offer You
If you require legal advice or assistance in relation to any of the areas mentioned above, our experienced Family Law team will be happy to assist you. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and can provide you bespoke legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
Our Past Cases
Below are some examples of children advice cases that our Family Law team have conducted in the past:
- Represented a mother in relation to an application heard in the High Court for permission to move abroad with children to the United States, with the father opposing the move.
- Represented an applicant father in relation to an application for a Child Arrangements Order to enable his children to spend time with him when the mother had refused all contact and made allegations that the father had abused the children; this included fact finding and obtaining an order re-establishing contact.