At Stalwart Solicitors we understand how difficult disputes about children can be. We will give practical advice helping you to resolve the situation, whether you are mother, father, primary carer or grandparents. We are experienced in every stage of the process; from initial negotiations and meetings through to the preparation of Court proceedings, obtaining expert evidence and preparing for final hearings.
In cases involving children, Court action should be used as a last resort and the welfare of the children will remain the paramount consideration.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined by the Children Act 1989 as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’.
This gives parents with PR the responsibility for making important decisions regarding a child’s education, health, and religion as well as day-to-day decisions for example social activities. An unmarried father will automatically acquire PR if named on the child’s birth certificate after 1st December 2003. If not, PR can be acquired by a formal written agreement with the mother or by Court Order.
Here are some answers to questions you may have:
What if we want to come to an agreement?
Where there are issues to resolve regarding children it is always best to deal with things by agreement where possible. This can be done through negotiation between the parties, solicitors negotiations or mediation. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution which is a completely voluntary process involving the parties attending meetings to resolve issues involving the children . Other issues arising out of a separation such as property and finance can also be dealt with. Mediation is not legally binding.
A written agreement or Order avoids uncertainty and confusion. A good tool to use is a Parenting Plan template to help you discuss and agree where your children will live, spend time with either parent, their education, communication, your child’s wishes and feelings and all parenting issues. Or you may prefer to apply for a Child Arrangements Order by Consent. The Court may have some queries on your Consent Order, particularly if one parent has no Solicitor.
What if we can’t agree?
If you and your partner are unable to agree the arrangements for the children save in specific circumstances, you have to first consider mediation or attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can make an application to the Court. The Court will make an Order deciding what is in the best interests of your children.
Here are some of the Orders you can apply for:
a) Child Arrangements Order – This is a Court Order that can set out where the children shall live and time spent with the non resident parent.
b) Specific Issue Order – This is a Court Order that can be applied for to determine any issue that is disputed between the parties. This could include change of a child’s surname or relocation within or outside the UK.
c) Prohibited Steps Order – Is an Order granted by the Court which prevents either parent with parental responsibility (PR) from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent with PR. We can assist with on notice and emergency applications if you believe the children are at imminent risk of removal from your care and control.
How much will it cost?
Stalwart Solicitors charges at the hourly rate of £250 and disbursements for all work in relation to children matters. Please see our pricing page for further information on our fees.