Whenever possible, it is advisable for parents to try and agree on the arrangements for their children between themselves. In English law, when it comes to matters relating to children, the welfare of the child is always considered to be paramount. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, it may be necessary to go to court in order for a judge to decide what is in your children’s best interests.
The decisions about the arrangements for your children are often the most difficult and distressing aspect of dealing with the breakdown of a relationship. Our specialist team of dedicated child and family law solicitors understand the complexity that can arise when children are involved and the emotional distress that this can cause to everyone.
The rights of the father
There is a common perception that in child matters, the court has a tendency to favour the mother. In deciding the case, the court will look at the nature of the relationship that the child has with both parents, and the mother’s case may be strengthened here if she is the main carer.
When you and your co-parent are not married, it is important to establish who holds parental responsibility. If this applies to both parents then you each hold equal parenting rights, therefore if the court is making a decision on the custody of your children, the fact that you are not married will not matter.
No legal right to custody?
If you do not hold parental responsibility, this means that there is no automatic legal right to custody or even contact with your child. If you are concerned that you do not hold parental responsibility, your specialist child law solicitor can advise you on applying for parental responsibility so that you can play a part in the decisions that are being made about your child’s future.
Joint custody of Children
Joint custody means that the children divide their time between both parents. It works well for couples who have experienced a fairly amicable separation and are able to maintain a working relationship in the interests of their children.
It is usually the case that everyone who holds parental responsibility will need to give consent before a child can be taken abroad. Where parents have maintained an amicable separation, this may not be a problem, since they may make reciprocal allowances in order to take the children on foreign holidays.
Court Orders Relating to Children
It is only necessary to apply for a court order if you and your former partner are unable to reach an agreement between yourselves. The most common court orders relating to children are:
- Child Arrangements Order
This sets down all decisions of the court regarding where your child will live, the arrangements for spending time with each parent and the form that contact will take.
- Specific Issue Order
This refers to specific aspects of the upbringing of a child and will reflect the decision of the court relating to matters such as education, medical care including vaccinations and religious participation.
- Prohibited Steps Order
This is used to prevent one of the parents from making important decisions without consulting with the other.
Our solicitors have a broad understanding of the court and can assist you with your case.
If you and your co-parent share parental responsibility for your children, they cannot be taken abroad without your consent. If your former partner has taken your children overseas without your permission, this is classed as child abduction.
Inform the authorities
The first step is to inform the police, who may put in place a Port Alert to stop your ex-partner from leaving the country with your children. If it is too late to prevent them from leaving, our expert child and family lawyers here at Stirling Ackroyd Legal will work with you to protect your children and take action to bring them safely home.
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