Child Arrangement Orders
Wherever children are involved in a break up, their interests must come first. At KBL we understand the huge emotional strain facing parents over child arrangements. We offer a sympathetic handling of each individual case, always aiming that children suffer minimally from their parents’ separation.
Ordinarily where parents agree a court will not become involved. The only time a court does become involved is:
- Where there are welfare issues
- Where there is a dispute between the parents
Common orders are:
- Parental Responsibility
- Specific Issue Orders
- Prohibited Steps Orders
- Child Arrangement Orders - this details who a child will live with and who they spend time with.
How do I arrange contact with my children?
The situation may be different depending whether you are married or just living with your partner. Parents who are married automatically have parental responsibility. Parents who are not married do not. The mother has parental responsibility. The father does not unless he has acquired it by either:
(a) Applying to the court
(b) By lodging a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the court
(c) By being named as the father on the birth certificate after 1 December 2003.
Parental responsibility is described as “all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
There is no exhaustive list of rights and responsibilities but is commonly taken to include:
- Care and control of the child when that child is with you
- Secular Education
- Religious Upbringing
- Medical Treatment
- Childs Surname
- Removal out of the Jurisdiction
- Where the child lives
- Child Arrangement Order
- Specific Issue Orders
- Prohibited Steps Order
- Maintenance for Children
Conclusion - If there is a dispute the recommended course of action is to see whether it can be dealt with through mediation. An application to the court will give a final result but the process can be lengthy and expensive and the outcome convenient to neither party. Agree if possible.
7 things you should know about Children Law
1. Parents do not have rights over children, it is children who have rights to see their parents. Parents have responsibilities. The legislation relevant to matters concerning children is the Children & Families Act 2014.
2. There are a number of orders that a court can make if children proceedings are issued. To do so a parent with parental responsibility needs to make an application to the court using form C100 for one of a number of orders, these include:
(a) Child arrangements order which details with whom the child will live and how/when they spend time with their parents.
(b) Specific issue order, looks at a specific question about how the children are brought up, for example the school they should go to.
(c) Prohibited steps order, this is used in relation to a specific issue for example, non-removal from a region.
3. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate. You can obtain parental responsibility by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from December 2003), getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or getting a parental responsibility order from a court.
4. CAFCASS are the advisory body to the court in all children proceedings. They work with children and their families and then advise the court on what they consider to be in the best interest of each individual child.
5. Children proceedings are expensive and more often than not, cause undue stress to the child or children concerned and destroy any relationship between the parents that is required for future co-parenting. Regardless of any order from the court, what is required is for the parents to co-operate and communicate as any order of the court is only as good as the people implementing it. Children’s needs grow and change as they do and you do not want to go back to court every time there is a problem.
6. Currently mediation has to be entered into before children proceedings can be issued at court.
7. The primary interest for the court is the best interests of the children. The court will listen to the advice of CAFCASS and, if possible, the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child depending on age and understanding. For example, a child of 12 is likely to meet with CAFCASS and be asked their feelings about residence or contact proposals but a child of 5 is too young to be involved in any such proceedings.