Thinking about the children following relationship breakdowns

It can sometimes be difficult to continue to parent your children together after a relationship breakdown. Continuing in our series of blogs, Linda Hunter, Head of Family Law at Rowlinsons Solicitors, answers some of the most common questions relating to children after separation.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is defined by Section 3(1) of 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 the child and his property’.

Parental Responsibility is the parent’s responsibilities towards their child, such as the responsibility to provide a home, and maintain and protect a child. All those who have Parental Responsibility for a child are able to have a say about certain decisions relating to a child, such as consenting to certain medical treatments, determining the child’s education, choosing, registering or changing a child’s name, determining their religion etc. Parental responsibility does not give a parent automatic rights to have contact with a child, or to know where a child is living.

If you want to know more about Parental Responsibility for a child, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

Can I change my child’s name/surname?

It is possible for a parent of a child who is under 16 years of age to change a child’s name, including their surname, provided that everyone with parental responsibility signs to provide their consent. A change of name deed, or Deed Poll, can be prepared, and everyone with parental responsibility would need to sign to confirm their consent. If a person with parental responsibility does not provide their consent, an application to Court for a specific issue order may be needed.

To speak to someone about changing the name of a child under 16, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

Do I have any rights to see my Grandchildren?

Grandparents don’t have legal rights to see their grandchildren. If there has been a family breakdown, and the grandparents are finding it difficult to see their grandchildren, the first step would be to see whether arrangements can be agreed as a family. Sometimes mediation can be helpful to achieve this.

If an agreement cannot be reached, it might be possible to consider making an application to Court for a child arrangements order. The process for grandparents usually differs from the process parents take, as grandparents have the added step first of requiring leave of the court to apply. If leave, or permission, is granted, the grandparents can then go on to pursue their application for a child arrangements order.

If you want to talk about a Child Arrangements Order, or to consider whether you wish to apply for one, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is a type of Order made by a Court relating to a child. The Order can specify where and with whom a child lives, when they should spend time with each parent, and how the arrangements should work.

It is sometimes possible for other people to apply for Child Arrangements Orders for a child, but anyone other than the child’s parents may need permission from the Court first before they are allowed to make an application.

If you want to talk about a Child Arrangements Order, or to consider whether you wish to apply for one, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order is a type of Order made relating to a child and how the child is being brought up. For example, the Order could relate to what school they go to, decisions about their religion, or what name the child should have.

It is also possible to apply for an Order to prevent certain things from happening, such as to prevent a child being removed from a school, or having their name changed. This is called a Prohibited Steps Order. 

If you want to talk about issues relating to a child, or to consider whether you wish to apply for an Order, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.