Family Law & Children – FAQs

Rebecca Higgins Blog

Please see below a number of questions that we get asked regularly, in relation to children matters during divorce and separation.

What are the routes I can take to try and agree contact with my ex-partner?

Following separation, parents should try and agree child arrangements as this is a benefit to both parties and the child. If parents are finding it difficult to have these conversations or come to an agreement, they can consider using the following routes:

  • Mediation.
  • Negotiations through solicitors.
  • Court proceeding.

For further information, please click here.

What is a ‘no order’ principle?

In respect of children issues, the Courts follow this principle. This means that unless they think a Court order is essential in your case, they will not make one. There is an expectation that, where possible, parents should be able to work together to come to an agreement regarding the contact arrangements for their children.

Do I have Parental Responsibility and what does it mean?

Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility (PR) for their child. Fathers automatically acquire PR upon marriage to the Mother. If a child was born prior to 1.12.2003 and the parents are not married, the Father does not have PR. If born after that date, the Father can have PR, but only if they are listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate. If you do not have PR we can discuss with you routes to acquire it.

PR is about having responsibility for your child. All parties with PR should be involved in important life decisions, but it does not mean that the day to day decisions of the parent with care of the child should be interfered with by the other parent.

Can I change my child’s name?

To change your child’s surname you need the written agreement of every party with parental responsibility (usually the other parent). You will not be able to change your child’s surname without their agreement, unless you have a Court Order confirming that you can.

Can I solely choose which school my child goes to?

No. If the other parent has parental responsibility, both parents must be in agreement about which school the child should attend. If an agreement cannot be reached between you, either parent can make an application for the Court to decide – this should be a last resort.

Can I stop contact?

Even where a party has Parental Responsibility, there is no automatic right to them having contact with a child. This does not mean that contact should or can be stopped. Contact should only be stopped where there are serious welfare concerns and you seek advice from social services or solicitors. Any decision to stop contact must weigh up the risk of harm to the child should contact take place and the risk of harm to the child if they do not spend time with their other parent.

Any decision to stop contact must be child focused and not due to any personal reasons/issues between you and the other parent.

Our Solicitors at Barnes Clark Family Law can assist with any issues regarding private children matters. They can provide specialist advice and guidance to assist with your matter and will try and help you come to a resolution in a cost effective and amicable way.

To book a free half an hour consultation with us, please call 01274 861096 / 01423 637272 or email enquiries@barnesclarkfamily.law