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Children and the courts - a family law guide to private proceedings

View profile for Charlotte Coyle
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Goodman Derrick provide advice on all private children’s law matters including court applications for child arrangements orders, specific issue and prohibited steps orders, leave to remove applications and international child abduction. Please contact any one of the team for an initial conversation.

What is a child arrangements order?

Child arrangements orders have replaced what were previously known as ‘residence’ or ‘contact’ orders. A child arrangements order will set out where your child or children live and when and how they spend time with each parent.

What is a specific issue order?

These types of orders are used to determine specific issues in your child’s upbringing, for example where they go to school, whether they are or are not brought up in a particular religion, or dietary or health issues.

What is a prohibited steps order?

These orders prohibit a particular course of action in relation to a child. For example, a prohibited steps order might prevent a parent from obstructing a holiday abroad or conversely might prevent a parent from taking a child on holiday abroad.

Who can apply? 

Parents, guardians or anyone with parental responsibility for a child apply can for a child arrangements; specific issue; or prohibited steps order. There are other potential applicants but these are the most common.

Who should be named as the respondent in your application? 

These orders have replaced ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders. A child arrangements order will set out where your child or children live and when and how they spend time with each parent.

Who should be named as the respondent in your application? 

Every person who has parental responsibility for the child should be named as a respondent.

How do you know whether someone has parental responsibility?

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father will have parental responsibility if he is married to the mother.

If the mother and father are unmarried the father will only have parental responsibility if he is named on the child’s birth certificate. This applies from 1 December 2003.

For children born or births registered before 1 December 2003 an unmarried father will only gain parental responsibility through a residence order, parental responsibility agreement or parental responsibility order.

Same-sex parents who are civil partners will both have parental responsibility. Unmarried same-sex parents will need to either enter into a parental responsibility agreement and apply for an order or enter into an agreement or jointly register the birth and enter into a civil partnership.

Other individuals may also have parental responsibility for a child. This includes anyone who is named as a person with whom a child is to live in a child arrangements order.

Goodman Derrick – Family

Our London based Family law team guide our clients through the legal process so as to minimise the financial costs and to achieve the best possible outcome, the group:

  • provides legal advice and support for divorce and separation
  • specialises in the resolution of financial issues arising through a relationship breakdown
  • drafts and negotiates cohabitation agreements and pre and post-nuptial agreements
  • focuses on child arrangements and UK and international surrogacy and parental order applications

Goodman Derrick LLP - A London law firm focused on delivering an exceptional service to ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs.

More information

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.