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This article was published on October 14th, 2022
A divorce can be a tough time for both spouses, particularly in situations where the separation is not amicable. However, as well as it being a difficult time for the partners that are separating, it can be equally as tough for any children that are involved. In this blog post, our family law solicitors have outlined the essential things you must consider in a divorce involving children.
Most fathers and all mothers have legal rights and responsibilities in accordance with the law in England and Wales these are known as ‘parental responsibilities’.
Parental responsibility is defined within the Children Act 1989 as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to a child’. In some cases, you may not live with your child but you may still have parental responsibility for the child. However, this does not automatically give you the right to see the child or spend time with the child.
Joint parental responsibility is something that married couples who have children together automatically have. However, in some unique situations, non-parents can apply for parental responsibility, such as a special guardian or a guardian appointed under a parent’s will after their passing, and no one else who holds parental responsibility is still alive.
In a perfect world, parents would come to a mutually agreeable decision regarding the arrangements for the child, however, unfortunately, this isn’t always achievable. Whilst terms such as ‘sole custody’ ‘joint custody’ and parental contact have become common phrases in arguments concerning the children following a divorce, the court, if required to do so, can determine the arrangements for a child via Child Arrangement Orders.
When considering what arrangements should be put in place for the children, the courts will consider several factors to ensure that child’s best interests are taken care of including who the primary carer of the child is and if the child is old enough, they may consider the wishes and feelings of the child in question. However, the choice will not ultimately be made by the child or children in question.
When a Child Arrangement Order is granted, it will cover the key matters, such as who the child lives with, how often and how the child has contact with the other parent, as well as any other disagreements the parents may have, such as which school the child/children attend.
A parent can only change the surname of their child once they are divorced if they receive the written consent of the other parent who shares parental responsibility.
If one parent is refusing to allow the other parent to see their child, then an application to the court can be made by that parent a Contact Order.
As a general rule, the courts consider it in the best interests of a child for them to have regular contact with both of their parents.
Once the court has made a ruling on the rules surrounding the contact between a child and their parents, both parents will be bound to the terms of the order by law and may face a fine or imprisonment if they breach the terms of the order.
We understand that deciding to begin divorce proceedings can be extremely difficult and it has the potential to change the lives of the whole family forever. At Thorneycroft Solicitors our Family Law solicitors are experts in handling all types of divorce matters including matters relating to children and divorce.
We take an empathetic and understanding approach and do all we can to ensure your wishes are met and you get the outcome you seek with minimal disruption to your family life.
If you are thinking about divorce and would like expert advice from family law solicitors who will always put your best interests first, contact our team today by calling 0800 1979 345 for free, or you can complete our online enquiry form by clicking here and a member of our team will contact you at a time that is more suitable for you.