Disagreements regarding children often arise, particularly when parents are separating. The best interests of the child(ren) should always be the primary consideration and it is important therefore to aim to resolve disputes without delay and to try to reach agreement through negotiation and mediation. We represent parties in family negotiations and refer clients to professional mediators if appropriate.
If the dispute cannot be resolved amicably we can represent parents, grandparents and children and issue court proceedings to obtain appropriate court orders, for example:
Residence Order – this is a court order settling the arrangements as to the person with whom the child is to live.
Contact Order – this order requires the person with whom the child lives, or is to live, to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the contact order.
Prohibited Steps Order – this order prohibits a parent from taking a particular step or action in relation to the child without the consent of the court.
Specific Issue Order – this is an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her children. The law defines "parental responsibility" as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. That means for example that a mother of a child has rights to determine where the child lives, which school he or she attends and how, when and if they access medical treatment. A parent with parental responsibility can therefore make decisions which affect all aspects of the child’s upbringing.
A father on the other hand only has parental responsibility automatically if he is married to the mother or if he is not married the child was born after 1 December 2003 and he is named on the birth certificate. A father can obtain parental responsibility by various ways and we will be pleased to advise and assist with this.
[Correct as at January 2017]