Dealing with Children Disputes

In many cases, the proposed arrangements for children following divorce or relationship breakdown are agreed by the parties involved. The Court won’t interfere with the arrangements for the children unless there is a dispute.

At Napthens we have specialist lawyers who are members of the Law Society’s Children Panel.

Disputes lead to mediation first

There is now an obligation to refer a disputed issue concerning the children to mediation before issuing Court proceedings.

If Court proceedings are issued, the Court will still urge the parties to work cooperatively in exercising parental responsibilities and will adopt a conciliatory approach, referring the case back to mediation if appropriate.

Parental responsibility

The mother of a child has parental responsibility whether or not she is married. Married fathers have parental responsibility for their children, if they were married at the time of birth. They will still have parental responsibility if they divorce.

An unmarried father will have parental responsibility automatically if he was named on a child’s birth certificate registered after the 1 December 2003.

A father without parental responsibility can acquire it either by the signing and registration of a Parental Responsibility Agreement or by obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court.

Court Orders in relation to children

Where agreement can’t be reached in relation to children, applications to the Court can be made.

The Court has power to make a range of Orders. The main ones relating to children are:

  • Child Arrangements Order
  • Prohibited Steps Order
  • Specific Issue Order

Children and Family Courts Advisory Service

If Court proceedings are issued in relation to children, the Court may involve the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service (CAFCASS).

CAFCASS provides a safeguarding report to the Court before the first hearing. A CAFCASS Officer will be present at the first hearing; they can be asked by the Court to prepare a report as to the child’s wishes and feelings, or indeed a fuller welfare investigation about the child’s circumstances.

How much do disputes over children cost?

Why choose Napthens?

  • Highly experienced specialist lawyers
  • Approachable and empathetic
  • Clear, straightforward advice
  • Expertise in advising on complex financial matters
  • Offices in Lancashire, Cumbria, Southport and Merseyside