On this page, you will find some of the often asked questions regarding issues involving children when a relationship comes under stress. If you have a query that is not covered below, please do not hesitate to contact us.
My partner and I are separating, what are my rights as a parent?
Rather than considering the 'rights' of parents, family law talks of 'parental responsibility' for a child. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child but parental responsibility is only granted to a father if:
- He is married to the child's mother when the child is born.
- He marries the child's mother.
- His child was born after 1 December 2003 and he is named on the birth certificate when the child's birth is registered.
- His child's birth was registered before 1 December 2003 and he was not named on the birth certificate but the birth is re-registered to include his name with the mother's consent.
- He has a parental responsibility agreement with the mother.
- He has a parental responsibility order from the court.
- He has a residence order from the court
- He becomes the child's guardian.
A person with parental responsibility should be consulted on important day-to-day decisions affecting their child.
Are the rules different for adopted children?
Adopted children are treated in the same way as natural children. However, foster children are not ‘your’ children. Normally any child or children who have been placed in your care (fostered) will be removed if you are going through a separation or divorce, but this would be a matter for the local authority who placed the child with you rather than the courts.
How can I make sure matters are resolved quickly?
Ideally, you and your partner will be able to reach an agreement amongst yourselves. Whatever agreement you reach will be reviewed by the Court as part of your divorce proceedings, if you are going through that process. It will be an unsettling and very stressful time for your children so it is in their best interests that you resolve matters as quickly as possible.
If, as parents, you cannot resolve matters, you may wish to consider mediation. This can be both faster and more cost-effective than going to court, otherwise, it will be necessary to apply to the court for orders covering who a child will live with and what contact rights the other parent will be given.
Can we be given joint custody of our child/children?
Yes. If living part-time with each parent is the best solution for your child/children, the court will almost always approve this.
Can arrangements be altered if circumstances change?
Yes, you can apply to the court. If the court considers that a change is in the child’s/children’s best interests, it can grant an appropriate order.
Do other members of my family have a right to contact with my child living with my ex-partner?
No. However, the court may allow them to apply for a contact order and as long as the court considers this to be in the child’s best interests, the application is likely to succeed.
Can I stop my Ex seeing my child?
It is usually considered to be in the best interests of children to have some contact with their other parent and you shouldn’t allow your own feelings for your ex-partner to influence this. However, if there is a genuine reason why it is not in their best interests to have contact, for example, if you suspect abuse, then you can apply to the court for an order to prevent contact.
What can I do if my Ex will not let me see my children?
If you have not already been granted a contact order you can apply to the court for one. If you have been granted a contact order and your ex continues to stop you seeing a child, you can go back to the court. The court can then take action against your ex for breaching the order.
How do I get help with maintenance payments?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) determines the amount of maintenance the ‘non-resident parent’ must pay to support their children. If for any reason, there is a problem with non-payment then it is up to the CSA to take action to enforce the payment. Where maintenance is paid under a court order you may be able to go to court if your ex fails to pay. Depending on the circumstances, the court can grant an appropriate order: for example, requiring your ex-partner’s employer to pay the child maintenance directly to you.