Custody of children during divorce
For adults, the breakdown of a relationship is extremely stressful and upsetting. It is even more difficult if there are children involved.
The directors at Prince Family Law, having all been through a divorce themselves, do not underestimate what a difficult time this is both for the adults and the children involved in a separation.
Therefore, we seek to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are made which are in the children’s best interests. The law governing the arrangements for your children is the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014. The Courts can make the following Orders:
Parental Responsibility During Separation
Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights and responsibilities that a parent has in relation to their child. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility from the birth of their child. Fathers automatically have parental responsibility if they were married to the mother at the time of the birth or are named on the child’s birth certificate and the child was born after December 2003.
If your child was born before December 2003 and the father is not on the birth certificate then Parental Responsibility can be obtained by agreement with the mother or by Court Order. If your child was born before December 2003 and the father is not on the birth certificate then parental responsibility can be obtained by agreement with the mother or by court order. Whilst parental responsibility does not give the non-residential parent the right to interfere in the day to day life of their child it does give them the authority to be involved in the following decisions:
- Religious beliefs.
- School preference.
- Medical consent.
If you are unsure if you have parental responsibility, you should contact our team of family lawyers in Sheffield and Chesterfield to discuss this further. We can also guide you in making the appropriate application if you do not have automatic parental responsibility
Child Arrangement Order
The arrangements for where your child would live and the time they would spend with the other parent were previously referred to as residence and contact orders. These have now been replaced by a child arrangements order which specifies with whom your child should live and the amount of time they should spend with the non-resident parent. Child arrangements order can specify the following things:
- The times and days that your child will spend with the non-resident parent.
- The amount of time that will be spent with that parent during school holidays and whether that includes travel abroad.
- Any issues regarding arrangements for handovers.
It is important to remember that the Court will only make Child Arrangements Orders when you are not able to agree on arrangements regarding your children. If you are able to agree then the Court will operate what is called the No Order principle.
If you wish to discuss any concerns you have about arrangements already in place or arrangements to be put in place regarding your children please contact our family solicitors who have extensive experience in this field.
Specific Issue Order
Specific issue orders are required where there is a defined issue the court needs to deal with for example which schools your child should attend, whether your child should be allowed to leave the jurisdiction for the purposes of a holiday or to live or which religions your child should participate in. In an increasingly multicultural society, it is becoming more common for Specific Issue Orders to be used where one parent wishes to relocate to another country and the other parent is opposed to that.
At Prince Family Law we understand these are very delicate issues and need handling with a substantial amount of expertise. We can offer guidance on whether an application should be made to the court and how best to present that application.
Prohibited Steps Order
A Prohibited Steps Order is one that forbids one parent from doing something for example:
- Removing a child from the jurisdiction.
- Changing a child’s surname without the consent of the other parent.
- Changing a child’s school without the consent of the other parent.
If you are concerned that any of these situations may apply you should seek immediate advice from our experienced family solicitors regarding the options available to you and the preventative measures that can be put in place.