Legal advice from expert Childcare Solicitors

All cases concerning your children are dealt with under the Children Act 1989 by an expert Childcare Solicitor. Whether you are married or not the principles are the same with some minor differences. The general principles are as follows.

Parental Responsibility

Under the Children Act the following parents automatically have Parental Responsibility for their children

  1. All Mothers
  2. Natural Fathers who are married to the Mother of the child
  3. People who have parental responsibility because of a court order
  4. Natural Father's who have parental responsibility through a written agreement
  5. If a Father is unmarried he will get parental responsibility by including his name on the birth certificate, provided the child was born after December 1st 2003
  6. By entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the Mother using a simple court form which is free
  7. By making an application to court under the Children Act
  8. By marrying the Mother of the child
  9. By being appointed as a guardian by will or by the court

Parental Responsibility is a legal phrase used to describe the legal responsibility an individual has for a child. This responsibility covers the rights, duties, powers and authority you have for a child and their property. Parental responsibility really covers the everyday important aspects of bringing up a child and the decisions that need to be made. Things which require parental responsibility are choice of schools, medical treatment, managing a child's assets and preventing removal of the child abroad. These are some examples but there are more. If you need more clarification about parental responsibility, contact a Childcare Solicitor today.

Available Court Orders Concerning Children

From April 2014 parents or others with disagreements about the arrangements for children are required to attend a mediation information meeting (MIAM) before applying to court. The intention is to try and encourage people to resolve the dispute outside the court if possible. Only if mediation is not possible or suitable should an application to court be made.

Where an agreement cannot be reached then it is possible to apply to court for one of the following orders:

Child Arrangement Order - This is an order which will decide with whom a child lives, spends time or otherwise has contact and when those arrangements take place. For instance, the court can state that a child lives with each parent for separate/specific periods of time or that the child lives with one parent and has contact with the other according to a set timetable. Spending time with a person can include face to face visits, including overnight and holidays, as well as communication by telephone, text, email and video calls., What is appropriate will depend on the circumstances of the family and the welfare of the child.

If a Child Arrangements Order states that the children 'lives with' one or more persons that that part of the order will allow that carer:

  • To take the child out of England and Wales for up to one month without requiring the permission of any other person with parental responsibility. This is intended to cover short holidays. In practice the other parent/person is going to need to know what is going on as the holiday will affect the arrangements for the child to spend time with him or her.
  • To appoint a guardian for the child that takes effect on their death granting parental responsibility to the appointed guardian to be shared with any surviving parent/ person with parental responsibility. The intention being that the child will live with the appointed guardian, although the surviving parent or other person with parental responsibility can dispute the arrangements and seek to change them.

A Prohibited Steps Order prohibits somebody from doing something. There are many things that this order can cover and some common examples would include preventing the removal of a child from school, removal of a child from the care and control of somebody, the child being taken to a pub or even preventing somebody from having any contact with the child. This list is not exhaustive and there will be other situations that can be covered by this order.

A Specific Issue Order says what must be done by somebody. There are lots of things covered by this and common examples include returning a child that has been retained after contact, ordering a child to see a doctor, what school a child should attend and what faith a child should be brought up following. There are many more examples but the best way of considering these orders is to think of them as a way of having a specific point of disagreement settled by the court.

These orders can last for a short time while the court considers what is best for the child. However, often these orders will last until a child reaches the age of sixteen

When the court makes an order concerning a child, the court must give written reasons and to help them they must refer to what is called a welfare checklist. Sometimes it helps the court to appoint a Children and Family reporter to assist with this process. The Children and Family Reporter is an officer of the court. This person works for CAFCASS which is the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service. In order to prepare their report for the court the Children and Family Reporter will interview the parties and sometimes the children. This report then helps the Judge to reach a decision and can be very persuasive.

Note: This information is a brief overview of the Children Act and how it might be able to help you. If you think you need further advice or might need to make an application to court you should make an appointment to see one of our Childcare Solicitors who will be able to help you.

To speak to expert Childcare Solicitors in Bradford about any aspect of childcare law call Williscroft today, on 01274 305380 or email us.

To speak to expert Childcare Solicitors in Keighley contact 01535 600973 or email us.

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