Angela Moores
Formerly of Jarvis Family Law, Harrogate
Family & Divorce Solicitors Harrogate,Oldham,Ashton under Lyne,Stockport Menu

Children FAQ

Angela Moores is a specialist in dealing with issues relating to children following a separation or divorce. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about children. Please Contact us for specific information about your situation.

Please click on a link below to jump to the answer to the questions.

Do we still have to deal with issues of custody and access if we separate?

No, the introduction of the Children Act 1989 in early 1990’s did away with these concepts. The court now operates a non intervention principle. If the parents are agreed on all issues then the court will not interfere by making unnecessary orders.

If however, there are disputes relating to the children such as to residence (where a child is to live), contact (how much time is to be spent with the other parent), or on a Free consultationspecific issue (such as holidays, medical treatment or education) the court will make an appropriate order. In some situations they can make prohibitive orders to prevent a parent acting in a certain manner (such as removing a child form the county). Since April 2014 'contact' and 'residence' are now referred to as 'living arrangements'.

In making an order the court will have regard to various factors set out in a checklist called the Welfare Checklist. This includes such issues as physical, emotional and educational needs of the child, likely effect on the child of any change, age, sex, background of the child, any harm he has or is at risk of suffering, and the ascertainable wishes of the child. However the paramount consideration in all cases will be the welfare of the child.

Back to top of Children FAQ

What if I am not married to the child’s Mother will it make any difference to my rights?

Both married parents will retain parental responsibility for their children following a divorce.
Parental responsibility is identified as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority
which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.

However in some cases where the parents are not married the Father may not have parental
responsibility for a child. This can be obtained however by either having a formal written agreement with the Mother or by court order. It is advisable to obtain parental responsibility in all cases.

Generally a Father who is not married to the child’s Mother will have parental responsibility if he is registered on the child’s birth certificate as the Father, However if the child was born before 1 December 2003 this may not be the case and legal advice should be obtained.

For more information please see our pages on Parental Responsibility and Unmarried Father's Rights.

Back to top of Children FAQ

I would like to take my child to live abroad will that be okay?

In order to remove a child permanently from the court’s jurisdiction, being England and Wales, (NOTE not Scotland or Ireland), the parent intending to removeexpert divorce advice must have the consent of the other parent with parental responsibility to do so (it is advisable to have such consent in writing).

If a parent is met with a request to consent to removal from the parent with care, it is best to clarify matters as to address, contact telephone number, education arrangements, and contact provisions before providing any such consent. In all cases it might be best to obtain legal advice before making any response to this request.

It is an offence to remove a child from the court’s jurisdiction (England and Wales) without the consent of the other parent with parental responsibility. To do so may have serious consequences both in terms of the offence committed and future contact with the child.

If parents cannot agree, the court will determine the issue after careful consideration of all factors.

Back to top of Children FAQ

Who is the Cafcass Officer and what is his/her role?

If an application relating to a child is made to the court, the court may order that the Cafcass service prepare a report on the issues in the application and that report will generally contain a recommended way forward. That report will be prepared after having met with the parents and the child(ren) and with regard to the welfare checklist set out at question 1 above. The Cafcass Officer is effectively the eyes and ears of the court and his/her recommendation is very important as the court is bound to follow it in the absence of cogent reasons not to do so.

Back to top of Children FAQ

How can we decide what level of maintenance I should pay for my child?

It is always best to try to agree the level of child maintenance if at all possible. That agreement may be based loosely around the provisions in place for the Child Support Agency (CSA). In the absence of agreement the only remedy is to make application to the Agency for an assessment. The court has no right to become involved in disputes over child maintenance.

If agreement is reached within a financial settlement on divorce as to nationwide divorce advicethe level of child maintenance, the agreement can be recorded in the consent order. However such an agreement is only legally binding for 12 months from the date of the court order. Either parent can then change their minds and make application to the Agency. It is to be hoped that both parents would stand by the agreement reached but that cannot be enforced.

For more information please see our page on Financial maintenance for children.

Back to top of Children FAQ

What is family mediation all about and is it suitable to resolve my issues relating to my children and/or our finances?

For those parents who are able to communicate (and sometimes for contact usthose who are not) mediation is an effective way forward when disputes arise in relation to children. It is always best for issues relating to children to be resolved direct between the parents and mediation can provide a sensible and safe forum for that to happen. It is also a cost effective way to resolve disputes. Both parties attending mediation are entitled, and encouraged, to take legal advice beforehand so that they are aware of the legal position. It is not for the mediators to provide legal advice (not all mediators are legally qualified).

Back to top of Children FAQ