What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility relates to the legal rights, duties, powers and authority a parent has regarding the upbringing of their child. Parents who have parental responsibility are obliged to agree on important issues surrounding their child’s lives and upbringing where possible. When matters cannot be agreed between parents then the Family Court can be invited by either parent to assist in making decisions on behalf of the parents.
How does the Court make a decision about where my children should live?
The Family Court can ultimately make a decision about the children such as where they should live if this cannot be agreed by the parents. If the Court is asked to make any decision about the children, they will only do so having had the opportunity to consider all relevant issues and all the evidence in your case. In law the Court can only make a decision that is deemed in the child’s best interest as the Family Court must put the child’s welfare first. The Court must also apply the law which is known as the “welfare checklist” before making a decision and granting any orders regarding the children.
The Court may refuse to make an order unless it is in the children’s best interests to do so. This is known as the No Order principle as the Courts would prefer parents to reach their own decisions regarding their children without the need for a formal Court order to be in place.
My ex-girlfriend is stopping me from seeing my daughter what can I do?
We would advise that you do not delay in taking steps to resume contact with your daughter as this could have a negative effect on your case. The passage of time can seem much longer for a child, so any delay in you seeing her could be detrimental.
We would advise that any attempt to reinstate contact be achieved through negotiation with your ex-partner via your solicitor and the Mediation process. If that proves unsuccessful then an application to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order (Contact order) should be pursued. The Court can assist in making arrangements to re-establish your relationship as soon as is possible, if it is deemed in your daughter’s best interests to do so.
We have a Contact order in place, but my ex-wife will not adhere to the order granted?
If the Court has granted a Child Arrangement Order or Contact Order allowing you contact with your child, and you are being refused access to your child, this could be deemed in breach of the Contact Order. If that is the case, we advise that you apply to the Family Court to enforce the terms of the Order. If you are successful, your ex-wife could face a fine or other penalty.
We would advise you to seek legal advice from a Family lawyer if you are concerned that an Order is not being complied with. A specialist family lawyer can consider the terms of the Contact Order in full detail and provide accurate advice based on your individual circumstances and advise on what steps you should take.
How much child maintenance should my ex-partner be paying me for our two children?
Child maintenance is not a matter which the Family Court can decide upon save in limited circumstances which would require further exploration. You and your ex-partner should therefore try to agree a reasonable amount for the children. If an Agreement cannot be reached or should a parent refuse to pay, then we advise that you make an application to the Child Maintenance Service who will assess your ex-partner’s liability to pay. An amount can be deducted from their earnings following assessment.
We would advise you to look at the HMRC website Child Maintenance calculator.