Children and divorce

Our aim is to help families reach an agreement on matters relating to their children. However, where an agreement cannot be reached, either directly or at mediation, we are able to advise you on your options and guide you through the court process.

Areas we advise on include:

  • Child Arrangements Orders to determine where and with whom your child shall live and when your child spends time with the other parent.
  • Obtaining parental responsibility for fathers or step-parents either by entering into a parental responsibility agreement or obtaining a parental responsibility order.
  • Obtaining a specific issue order where parents cannot decide on important matters in relation to a child’s upbringing such as education and schooling, religious upbringing, medical treatment, holidays abroad and change of name.
  • Where there are concerns that a parent is taking steps that may not be in the child’s best interests such as planning to relocate abroad or in the UK, change of name, a course of medical treatment we can assist with obtaining a prohibited steps order to prevent the parent from making such decisions without the courts permission.
  • Relocating abroad with your child or relocating within the UK. If a parent is planning to move abroad with their child and the other parent does not consent they must make an application to the court for permission to remove the child permanently from the jurisdiction.
  • Rights for grandparents and Special Guardianship Orders.

You will have parental responsibility for your child if you were married to the mother at the time the child was born or named on the child’s birth certificate after 1 December 2003. If you are not married or your child was born prior to 1 December 2003 you can acquire parental responsibility by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or re-registering the child’s birth. If the mother does not agree, you should apply to the court for a parental responsibility order.

If you cannot agree on arrangements directly, you can attend mediation to try and reach an agreement with the assistance of a neutral third party.  If mediation is not successful, or is not suitable in your case, you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order to deal with where your child shall live and when they spend time with each parent. There is a requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) at a local mediation service prior to starting court proceedings. Please contact us for further information on the court process.

If you are able to agree on child arrangements, you will not need the courts to become involved. You can set out the terms of the agreement in a parenting plan or parental agreement if you would like a record. If you would like the agreement to be made legally binding, we can assist you in preparing a consent order and lodging it at court to be approved.

If you have legal parental responsibility for your child, your ex-partner cannot take your child to live abroad without your consent or a court order.  If you do not consent, your ex-partner will need to make an application to the court for permission to remove your child permanently from the jurisdiction. If you have concerns that your ex-partner will take the children abroad without your consent, we can assist with you with making an application to the court for a prohibited steps order. If you find yourself in this situation it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible.

You may be liable to pay child maintenance to the parent who has day-to-day care of your child. You can either agree the amount directly or contact the Child Maintenance Service to carry out a calculation. You can also look at the online calculator. Child maintenance is payable in respect of a child under 16 or between 16 and 20 if they are in full-time non-advanced education. The amount payable will depend on the paying party’s gross annual income, capped at £156,000 per annum, the number of children and the number of overnight stays with the paying party.

If you require advice in relation to divorce or a family law matter, please get in touch.