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A relationship breakdown is a traumatic experience.  When children are involved, it is important that arrangements are made that are clear and fair.

Where parents are unable to agree arrangements concerning the children, there are a number of ways of resolving the dispute:

  • Direct negotiations
  • Negotiations through solicitors
  • Mediation
  • Court Proceedings

If parents decide to start court proceedings, the court has to consider the criteria under Section 1 of the Children Act 1989. The factors are as follows:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding).
  • Their physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances.
  • Their age, sex and background, and any characteristics of theirs that a court considers relevant.
  • Any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering.
  • How capable each of their parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant is of meeting their needs.
  • The range of powers available to the court under this Act.


What orders can the court make?

Child Arrangements Order

Such an order determines:

  • Day-to-day contact arrangements
  • Who the child lives with
  • How and where contact takes place

Prohibited Steps Order

The court may make orders prohibiting a parent from a specific act, such as removing from a geographical area, from the parent’s care, or from school.

Specific Issue Order

If parents are in dispute over a particular matter such as where a child should go to school, the court can determine the issue.

What is Parental Responsibility?

A mother will automatically acquire parental responsibility of a child, whether she is married or not.  A father automatically acquires parental responsibility provided he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. Further, a father can acquire parental responsibility if he was named on the birth certificate and was present at the time of registration of the birth.

Parental responsibility may be acquired by a step-parent or a second female parent.

How can I get parental responsibility?

If none of the above applies, you may apply to the court for a parental responsibility order if the mother disputes parental responsibility, or through signing a parental responsibility agreement, with the mother’s consent.





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