Children & Family Law
The welfare of a child is the primary consideration when a family breaks up and Osprey Solicitors can advise on you about all issues involving Children including Child Arrangement Orders, Parenting Plans, Prohibited Steps Orders, Specific Issues Orders & removal orders.
The Courts encourage parents to try and settle issues concerning their children through mutual agreement. We understand that this isn’t always possible but we will help advise and support you with understanding your rights and options.
Mediation is one option and the Courts expect you to attend a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’ (MIAM) to determine whether mediation is appropriate in your case before issuing any application. In certain circumstances you can be exempted from mediation but we will advise you about this.
Parenting Plans are becoming increasingly popular in families where parents 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 have as much detail as you want 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) with the aim of reaching an agreement that both of you are happy without the need to issue proceedings at Court.
If an application is made to the Court, the following Orders are available:
CHILD ARRANGEMENT ORDERS
This is an order that sets out who a child is to live with and who they should spend time with (previously residence and contact). It is possible for the Order to state that the child will live with both parents in two homes and it will set out the times when they are to live with each parent. A Child Arrangements order can also include provisions for indirect contact, such as by telephone or facetime and can settle any aspects which are in dispute.
PROHIBITED STEPS ORDERS
This order stops (or prevents) a specific action being carried out by a parent. This may include preventing the child being removed from the jurisdiction of England & Wales either permanently or for a holiday if the other parent does not agree, a change of current school or in relation to medical treatment.
SPECIFIC ISSUE ORDERS
This type of order can deal with a whole range of specific issues such as a child’s educational needs, their surname, the choice of faith or religion, or in their needs in relation to medical treatment.
This order can also be used to ensure the other parent returns your children to you if they have been taken away.
Wardship is the name given to Court proceedings when a child is made a ward of Court. In effect, the Court becomes the legal guardian of such a child and it has powers to make certain orders for children who have been taken into care, or are considered to be at risk. The High Court must give their permission for any action that may affect the child.
PERMANENT REMOVAL TO ANOTHER COUNTRY
Where both parents have parental responsibility for a child permission of the other parent is required before a child can be removed from the country either for a short period for a holiday, or on a permanent basis with the intention to relocate. (If a parent has a Child Arrangement Order that states 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).
PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY ORDER
Parental Responsibility is the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities that a parent has in relation to their child. For example, someone with parental responsibility can take part in making decisions about a child such as deciding which school they should attend or consenting to medical treatment.
The following automatically has Parental Responsibility for a child:
- Mother’s automatically have parental responsibility;
- Father’s who are married to the Mother at the time the child is born;
- If the child is born after 1 December 2003, a Father who is not married to the Mother but 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 lives with, 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 but may be able to acquire it. If the Mother does not agree to you having Parental Responsibility voluntarily, Osprey Solicitors 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 Parental Responsibility, such as by marrying the Mother, or adopting the child and we can discuss this with you.