Child arrangements – your questions answered
This guide covers the most frequently asked questions we receive from parents and other family members in relation to child issues. We understand the importance of ensuring matters involving children are resolved quickly and with the child’s best interests in mind.
I want to see my children, what are my rights?
We understand that time spent away from your child is painful. In all such matters the law puts the best interests of the child first. Therefore, contact with mum or dad is seen as a right of the child, rather than a right of the parent. We can advise on the best course of action to take, and ensure that any proposed arrangement demonstrates that the child’s welfare has been considered first and foremost.
Do I have to go to court to secure the right to see my child?
There is a presumption that the court should not get involved. You are the parents and best placed to decide what is best for your child. The court will only intervene if there is a dispute. To avoid costly court proceedings you may like to consider a mediation service which we can refer you to. In fact, the court will require the parties to have sought advice on mediation unless there are good reasons not to so do.
I want a say in my child’s upbringing, what are my rights?
Parental responsibility gives you the right to be involved in all major decisions in your child’s life, such as their religion, medical treatment and education. If you and your partner were married when the child was born you have parental responsibility rights automatically. If your child was born in other circumstances we can advise you on your entitlements.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
This is what used to be called a Contact or Residence Order, with the court setting out arrangements as to who the child will live with and when, and who the child will spend time with and when.
All court orders relating to children are decided with the child’s best interests in mind. They will look very closely into:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child (considered in light of the child’s age and understanding).
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances.
- The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristic the court considers relevant.
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
- How capable each of the child’s parents is of meeting their needs.
- The court will not make any order unless it is better for the child that there is an order as opposed to no order at all.
Am I able to seek a court order to see my grandchildren?
As a grandparent the law doesn’t say that you have a right to see or visit your grandchildren. You have the right to ask for visitation, and the court will consider the child’s best interests above all, but will also consider your relationship with them and the effect any order will have on the child. We would always recommend court as a last resort and would advise speaking to us about the options available to you.
How much will it cost?
Fees can vary depending on how complex your case is or whether the issue can be resolved without going to court (for example, through mediation). We offer a free 30-minute consultation during which costs and fees will be explained.
Please note that these guides are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. You can contact one of our expert consultant lawyers using the form below.
HEAD OF FAMILY LAW
“All too often when a relationship breaks down there can be an enormous impact on the children. Our advice in such matters is to always focus on what is in your child’s best interests. In what can be a stressful situation, we will help you ensure they are protected and the best outcome achieved, whether through negotiation, mediation or by an application to the court.”