Making child arrangements
You can choose how to make arrangements for looking after your children if you separate from your partner.
You and your ex-partner can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree on:
- where the children will live
- when they’ll spend time with each parent
- child maintenance provisions
We can help you prepare and agree a Children Agreement or a Consent Order that can be approved and sealed by the Court.
It is sometimes difficult to communicate when a relationship has broken down so you might not be able to reach an agreement without help. If you cannot agree between you then an application can be made to court for them to decide any matters that you cannot agree.
Before making an application to Court for a Child Arrangement Orders you must show you’ve attended a meeting to see if mediation is right for you. You will not have to have a meeting in certain cases, for example if there’s been domestic abuse or if social services are involved.
Types of Court Order
The type of court order you need depends on what you’ve been unable to agree on. You can apply for more than one court order.
Arrangements for your child
A ‘child arrangements order’ decides:
- where your child lives
- when your child spends time with each parent
- when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example)
- ‘Child arrangements orders’ replace ‘residence orders’ and ‘contact orders’. Parents with these orders do not need to re-apply, although if they are varied they will be referred to by their new headings
Your child’s upbringing
A ‘specific issue order’ is used to look at a specific question about how the child is being brought up, for example:
- what school they go to
- if they should have a religious education
You can also apply for a ‘prohibited steps order’ to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing.
Who can apply
The child’s mother, father or anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a court order. Grandparents can also apply in some circumstances.
What has parental responsibility?
All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent – known as ‘parental responsibility’. If you are a father and you are unsure if you have Parental Responsibility then please ask us and we can advise you whether you have parental responsibility as a right or whether you need to make a separate application to gain parental responsibility.
If you have parental responsibility, your most important roles are to:
- provide a home for the child
- protect and maintain the child
- If you have parental responsibility for a child you don’t live with, you don’t necessarily have a right to contact with them – but the other parent still needs to keep you updated about their well-being and progress.
You’re also responsible for:
- disciplining the child
- choosing and providing for the child’s education
- agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
- naming the child and agreeing to any change of name
- looking after the child’s property
- Parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not.
Please note that we do not deal with Legal Aid matters. Our fees range from £150 plus VAT an hour to £200 plus VAT an hour. You may also need to pay Court fees and pay for the services of a barrister. We have experience of instructing many barristers and will always seek your approval to the barrister who may best suit your need and your budget.
Please contact us to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your issues. We offer a 20 minute consultation for £50 + Vat. This is usually enough time for us to get on overview of your matter and to offer you advice to move forward as well as give you a realistic estimate of our fees. If you do instruct us then the consultation will be free and no charges will be made.
For further information or to discuss your matter please call Satbir Sethi on 020 8646 4885 or email her on Satbir@p-llp.net.