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This article was published on February 19th, 2020
A divorce is a painful experience for both spouses, particularly where both parties involved are not ending their relationship on amicable terms. However, a divorce involving children can be traumatic for the child and can complicate the process for parents as children are often used as a weapon within divorce proceedings.
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 responsibility’.
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 of a child’.
In some scenarios, you may not live with your child but you may still have parental responsibility for a child. However, this does not automatically give you the right to see the child or spend time with said child.
Couples who are married and have a child together automatically have joint parental responsibility, however in some special circumstances non-parents can apply for parental responsibility including a special guardian or a guardian appointed under a parent’s will following their death, and no one else that holds parental responsibility is still alive.
In a perfect scenario, parents will agree between them on custody and visitation arrangements that involve their children, however, unfortunately, this isn’t always achievable.
While terms such as ‘sole custody’ ‘joint custody’ and parental contact have become with custody battles following a divorce, the court now determines who receives custody of a child via Child Arrangement Orders.
When considering who should receive custody of the children, the courts will take a number of factors into consideration to ensure that child’s best interests are taken care of including who the primary caretaker of the child and if the child is old enough, they may consider the opinion of the child in question, however, the final decision will not lie with said child or children.
When a Child Arrangement Order is granted it will deal with the key aspects including who the child lives with, how and when the child has contact with their parents, as well as any issue that the parents may dispute, such as the school they attend.
Neither parent can take the child out of the country during divorce proceedings unless it is explicitly agreed by both parents who hold ‘parental responsibility’.
If the child is taken out of the country without agreed consent it may be deemed by the courts that the parent is committing an act of child abduction which could result in criminal charges.
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 restricting the access of another parent and refusing to allow them to see their child, then the aggrieved parent may make an application for 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 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.