Children Law Advice by experienced Southampton Lawyers.
If there are children involved the Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) applies. Under this the Court regards the welfare of the child(ren) to be the first and paramount consideration. However, there is a presumption that there should be no Court Order as to the arrangements regarding the child(ren) unless the circumstances are considered to be exceptional.
In circumstances where the parents are NOT MARRIED, only the mother has automatic Parental Responsibility for the child(ren).
If the parties are married when the child is born or subsequently marry, both parents have automatic Parental Responsibility. The father can also acquire parental responsibility by an agreement with the mother, by a Court Order or if he is registered as the father on the Birth Certificate after December 2003.
Parental Responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child normally has. This includes:
- making decisions over medical treatment
- being involved in the education of the child(ren)
- the other parent becomes the guardian of the child(ren) if you die
- needing to consent to a change of surname
- needing to consent to the other parent taking the child(ren) abroad unless you have a Residence Order or Child Arrangements Order and you are named as the person with whom the child is to live, when you can be abroad for 28 days.
The following factors will be taken into account in any application for Parental Responsibility:
- degree of commitment shown by the father to the child
- degree of attachment between father and child
- reasons for the application
- reasons for the mother objecting.
Only if the question of where the child(ren) is/are to live or when to see the other parent is in dispute will there need to be an application for a Child Arrangements Order.
If there is an application to Court the Judge is then assisted by CAFCASS. For more information see here.