Your children are your priority and throughout your case, we will make them ours too.

We understand that coming to see a solicitor about your children following divorce, separation, or after losing contact with your children for whatever reason can be difficult. Ideally, you would like to come to an arrangement with the other parent which is in the best interests of the children and one which suits you both too. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple!

Parental Responsibility

Fathers will often come to us to ask us where they stand. They are concerned that there is an unwritten rule which states that the children should always live with their mothers when a relationship breaks down. This is simply not the case.

The Children Act 1989 changed the idea that parents have ‘rights’ over their children and shifted the perception more towards parents having ‘responsibilities’ towards their children. Each person with parental responsibility therefore has the responsibility to make decisions in the best interests of the child and having parental responsibility does mean that you should have a say in how those decisions are made.

Mothers have parental responsibility as do fathers who are married to the mother of the child. The situation is not so clear cut for unmarried fathers who can obtain parental responsibility by either:

a) Being registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate with the consent of the child’s mother;

b) By entering into a ‘parental responsibility agreement’ with the mother;

c) By applying to the Court for a ‘Parental Responsibility Order’

d) By being appointed a guardian either by the mother or the Court (although parental responsibility will only be obtained on the death of the mother);

e) By obtaining a Child Arrangements Order from the Court;

f) By marrying the mother.

Child Arrangements Order

Child Arrangements Orders replaced what was ‘contact’ and ‘residence’ and before that ‘custody’ and access’. The change of name came after the Family Law reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014. The changes were designed to promote the idea of equality amongst parents and that the central focus of any dispute concerning a child should be the child itself and not the parents. There had been a received idea that the law was biased towards mothers and that children will automatically live with their mothers following divorce and separation. The creation of Child Arrangements Orders put the child first and aims to encourage the idea of both parents being as equally involved in the upbringing of their children as possible.

Before any application is made to the Court, parties have to attend what is known as a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). This form of mediation is not an attempt to make parents reconcile. Mediation in this sense is focussed towards helping parents think about the issues that have to be resolved and help them to reach a resolution through discussions with the help of an impartial mediator. If this is not possible or if discussions break down then you will naturally want to seek the help of a solicitor to know what to do next.

At Burn & Co Solicitors, whilst keeping in mind all of the practical considerations that are required during a separation or divorce, or trying to agree arrangements for your children, we never lose sight of the fact that your children’s physical and emotional wellbeing comes first.

A Child Arrangements Order can be made in favour of two or more people who do not all live together. The order can specify the periods during which the child is to live in the different households of those people involved in the Order. The Family Court has the discretion to order that a child lives with each parent on alternate weekends or on an alternating schedule. A Child Arrangements Order is therefore a flexible Order which can be tailored to meet the particular needs of the family.

Our family law solicitors are experienced in helping parents and families make arrangements for children following the breakdown of a relationship. We’ll make sure that the views of you and your children are heard.

Of course, children have practical needs as well as emotional ones and it can sometimes be difficult to focus on the best practical solutions when a relationship has broken down. Our Family Law Team will bring clarity to your situation to help you address these practical needs. We’ll clearly explain what arrangements for children need to be considered and help you put things in place to create a more stable and happy future for you and your children.

There are of course other issues relating to your children which you may need to discuss with us, such as:

• Enforcing an Order already in place

• Changing a child’s name;

• Relocation within the UK or outside the UK with your child, or concerns that the other parent plans to do this;

• Concerns that one parent is making important decision to which you do not agree or without your consultation.

This is not an exhaustive list and it may be that you have an issue relating to your child which does not feature here. Our expert lawyers have dealt with a wide range of issues and would be more than happy to discuss whatever problem you are facing with you.

At Burn & Co Solicitors we explain everything in plain English, answering any questions you may have and making the process easy to understand. We also offer free, initial over-the-phone advice and will explain the estimated costs and timescales involved as soon as we can so you always know what to expect.

So for friendly, confidential and expert advice about arrangements for children, contact us today.

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