Last Updated on 28.1.21 by Nicola Fraser
When a split is amicable legal advice might not always be a necessity. However, it is always sensible in order to fully understand your rights and responsibilities when relating to child arrangements.
Your rights and responsibilities can very much depend on your relationship with the child. For example, grandparents do not currently have automatic rights to apply to the court in the event of a dispute and will need to seek leave of the court.
A specialist Family Law expert will be able to advise you about whether you should take steps to prohibit a change in your child’s circumstances, urgently or otherwise and how to go about this. Specialist legal advice will enable you to know the law and how the Family Court works. A solicitor can also point you in the direction of, and explain, the other non-court dispute resolution options such as mediation and collaborative law.
What are the changes a parent can make to these arrangements?
Both parents or those with Parental Responsibility need to be satisfied that any proposed change to child arrangements, being housing, schooling, location etc., will be considered in light of the child’s best interests.
It is important to consider whether both parents have the financial resources to implement any proposed plan for the child and it is crucial to assess travel costs if there are plans to relocate for both the child and the other parent for contact visits.
Consider how difficult it would be to maintain a full relationship with your child if they are to relocate and consider the various indirect means of contact with a child such as Skype, FaceTime, instant message, email and telephone.
What rights do other family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents have in terms of access?
Extended family members including aunts, uncles and grandparents etc., can make an application to the court for a child arrangements order (CAO) that specifies the contact to take place between them and the child/children. A CAO is an order that regulates arrangements for a child. This can relate to direct contact between the child, any overnight staying contact, supervised contact, and indirect contact through letters or cards
The first concern of the court when considering an application for contact is the child’s welfare therefore despite relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles not automatically being entitlement to make an application for a CAO some relatives may be entitled to apply to depend on whether they meet the specific criteria contained in the Children Act 1989. The advice of a specialist Family Lawyer ought to be obtained to ascertain whether or not they may be entitled to a child arrangements order.