Parents who separate have to consider the arrangements for their children, such as where a child will live, which parent the child will live with, how often the other parent sees the children and financial support. Parents are encouraged by the courts to reach out of court settlements, which in the long run, are far better for the parents and their children. However, there are occasions when parents cannot agree or need assistance to reach an agreement. At AWD Law, we are able to assist parents to reach an out of court settlement either by corresponding with the other party/lawyer, or by providing our mediation services to the parties. If no agreement can be reached and the parties have exhausted all avenues to reach an out of court settlement, then they can make an application under the Children Act 1989 for a Judge to make a decision.
TYPES OF ORDERS WHICH A COURT CAN MAKE:
Parental Responsibility Order
Parental responsibility means the rights and responsibilities given to a parent. However, not all parents automatically acquire parental responsibility. Mothers automatically acquire parental responsibility, however, fathers can only acquire parental responsibility if they fall under the following category:-
- They were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth
- The mother and father were not married but subsequently marry
- The father is not married to the mother, however, the child was born after 1st December 2003 and the father was registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate
- The mother and father have agreed to enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement which has been registered
- By a Court Order granting parental responsibility
- Step parents do not automatically acquire parental responsibly but they can obtain it by the agreement of both biological parents
Parental responsibility is important as it gives a parent the right to make important decisions regarding a child’s welfare, such as choosing schools, authorising medical treatment or deciding which religion a child should be brought up in. If parents are separated and they both have parental responsibility, it means that both parents have the right to be included in important decisions. Parents with parental responsibility are required to obtain consent from the other parent, if for instant, they want to remove the child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales for a holiday or perhaps permanently.
Child Arrangement Orders
Child arrangement orders now replace residence and contact orders. A child arrangement orders means an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the following:-
a) With whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact;
b) When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
Prohibited Steps Orders
Such an order is applied for to prevent a child’s parent from doing a particular act which is not agreed between the parties. For instance, a parent may be planning to take a child abroad without the other parent’s permission.
Specific Issue Order
These types of orders are applied for where there are contentious issues arising in respect of parental rights and responsibilities. Such contentious issues may be regulated by a Specific Issue Order which is brought to resolve issues concerning education, religion, consent for medical procedures or perhaps a resident parent wishing to relocate abroad with the child.
The criteria which a court takes into consideration
The court has wide ranging powers to make orders on behalf of children. When a court makes such decisions, the welfare of the child will be the court’s paramount concern. The court will only make an order if there is a clear dispute between the parties and that it would be in the child’s best interest to do so. The court will also consider a welfare check list and consider factors such as
- The wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of his age and understanding)
- The child’s physical, emotional and education needs
- The likely effect of any change in circumstances to the child
- The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant
- How capable each parent or other relevant person is of meeting the child’s needs
Before filing an application for private law children proceedings, the applicant is required to attend a MIAM meeting (subject to any exemptions). The purpose of a MIAM meeting is to provide information about other processes and ways of trying to resolve a dispute out of court and to also provide other services, advice or support.
For more information on the above, please contact Oi-Yuyn Wong or Helen Clarkson on 01329 232314 or email@example.com
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