90 seconds with Caroline Mills on… Children: Life after the break up

Separating can be difficult for everyone, and things can get more complicated when children are involved. Do you know what your rights are when it comes to looking after children post-break up?

children

Image source: Flickr – Seema Krishnakumar

Will I still have my say on big decisions?

Yes, there is a presumption of continued parental involvement, unless such involvement would be harmful to a child.

If you have Parental Responsibility (PR) for your child, which mothers automatically do and most fathers do (and if they don’t, it is usually straight forward to obtain), then you will be entitled to have your say on key parental decisions such as medical treatment and schooling. Day to day decisions are left to the parent who has the care of the child.

What if we disagree on schools?

If you cannot agree about which school your child should attend then you may need legal assistance to resolve your differences. Mediation (a form of dispute resolution in which an impartial mediator will meet with both parents in a confidential setting) can be a good forum for discussing issues relating to your children. It is also possible that solicitors could assist with negotiations. As a last resort, you can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order regarding the schooling and a Judge would ultimately decide.

It is important that you seek to consider each other’s views together with the wishes and feelings of your child and the schools / other professionals.

What about school holidays?

Unless there is a Child Arrangements Order in place, parents are free to agree suitable arrangements for a child to see both parents during school holidays. Often (depending on the age of the child) a child will spend longer periods e.g. 1 or 2 weeks with each parent during the holidays to accommodate trips away from home. Holidays should be agreed between the parents and details of where the child will be staying, and with whom, together with contact details should be provided. Some parents pre-arrange times when a child will call the other parent during longer periods away.

Again, if holiday time cannot be agreed, parents will have to seek assistance in one of the ways described above.

If you have any queries about issues relating to your children following separation, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your matter further.