legal aidChildren Issues

The biggest concern for most families is their children. Below are some FAQs regarding Children when couples separate. Please also refer to the information sheets provided by Resolution

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is automatically granted to mothers and to fathers who are married to or marry the mother of the child. Unmarried fathers and step-fathers can obtain parental responsibility through a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Court Order. For children born after 1st December 2003 unmarried fathers obtain parental responsibility if they are named on the child's birth certificate.

My ex-partner says I won't be able to see my child when we separate, What can I do?

We can help you maintain a relationship with your child(ren) after separation. This may be achieved by direct communication with the other parent or it may, in some cases, involve Court proceedings.

It is essential that the children do not become involved in the adult emotions and distress at the time of separation. They are often very confused and do not understand why they now have to share their time and home.

It is very rare that the Court would support children not seeing both parents and will usually only do so when there is a risk to the child.

My ex-partner says he/she wants custody of our child.  Can I stop him/her?

The terminology of custody, access, residence and contact are now known as "child arrangements" and this term will be used by lawyers and the Courts when determining who a child lives with and, who a child has contact with.

When deciding where a child should reside everyone involved will take account of a number of factors contained within the Children Act including the child's wishes and feelings.  The importance of a child having an ongoing relationship with both parents after separation is also emphasised, provided that it is safe and in the child's best interests. The final decision will be made after deciding what is best for the child.  In most cases the child will stay with the parent with the day-to-day care but sometimes this is not possible and the arrangements made need to be changed.  No-one will make the decision without taking all the facts into account.

If there is a real dispute about where the child should reside then it is more likely than not the assistance of the CAFCASS (Children and Family Courts Advisory Service) will be sought.  The CAFCASS Family Court Advisor will be the eyes and the ears of the Court and any recommendations in their report will be persuasive to the Judge at final hearing.

My child(ren) may be taken into care.  What can I do?

As soon as there are any child protection issues and Social Services are involved in your child's life, it is important to take specialist legal advice from an Accredited Children's Representative. This is an extremely complex area. Please speak to a member of our Department for further information and advice. We have Accredited Children's Representatives in our Department who will be pleased to assist.

Children team members:

Other Related Legal Issues:

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