Christmas is rapidly approaching, and families across the country are finalising their holiday plans.
For some families, this isn’t always an easy task, particularly when parents have separated or divorced. In these cases, the decision about where a child should spend the festive period can be fraught with disagreement and heartache.
In cases where parents are unable to agree about a child’s living arrangements, or with whom they spend time, it’s sometimes necessary for the Court to get involved. When mediation has proved unsuccessful (and domestic abuse is not an issue), a Child Arrangements Order (previously known as a ‘child residence order’ or ‘child contact order’) will be issued by the Court to clarify a child’s living arrangements.
Unfortunately, however, once these orders are made, they are not always complied with. When this happens, the person failing to comply could be held in contempt of court, which could mean fines, enforcement orders and even imprisonment.
As family structures become increasingly complex, understanding the rights and responsibilities of each person involved in a child’s upbringing can be difficult.
At Howells Solicitors, we have a specialist child care department dedicated to ensuring that each of these individuals receives the advice and support they need to ensure their interests are fairly represented. This week, we take a look at the difference between biological and legal fathers, and highlight the rights and responsibilities of each.
Legal Father Vs Biological Father
The male parent of a child is known as their father. A man can become a father either as a result of impregnating a woman (a biological father) or by gaining
parental responsibility (a legal father). More...
Using legal terms is often unavoidable however to make the processes involved more understandable for our clients, we have compiled a ‘cutting the jargon’ glossary:
Abduction - Child abduction is when a person takes or sends a child out of England or Wales without the permission of those with Parental Responsibility or the permission from the court. If a person has a Residence Order or a Child Arrangements Order for a child they will not be acting unlawfully if the child is taken or sent out of England or Wales for less than four weeks without the appropriate consent.
Accommodated children - Parents may agree to having their child removed or ‘accommodated' by Children's Services under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, while an investigation and assessment is carried out.
Barrister - Barristers are legal professionals who specialize in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings, and giving expert legal opinions. More...
If you are in dispute with your ex-partner/spouse regarding your children, or if you are having problems settling your separation, you may be thinking about issuing Court proceedings.
As of July 2014, before any application can be made to court, you are now required to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The aim of the meeting is to see if mediation could be used to resolve your difficulties, rather than going straight to court. Courts are required to know that mediation has been considered before they are able to proceed with your application.
What is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting?
The MIAM is a meeting between you and a mediator to find out if there are alternative ways to find solutions to your problems. The mediator will explain what your options may be, how mediation will work, the benefits of mediation and the costing involved. The meeting can be between the mediator and just you or with your ex-partner too.
What does a mediator do?
During mediation, a mediator will:
A Cafcass Officer (also known as a Family Court Advisor) is a specialist social worker whose role is (where possible) to help you agree the arrangements for your children, carry out safeguarding enquiries, and, if asked by the judge, to write a more detailed report for the Court about your children’s needs and/or wishes.
When you make an Application to Court for a Child Arrangement Order, The Children and Family Court and Advisory Service (CAFCASS) is sent a copy of your Application. They will then carry out safeguarding enquiries to make sure your child is safe and not at risk of any harm.
A Cafcass Officer will carry out the following enquiries:
1. Check your Application to Court to see if you have ticked any of the boxes to say that you are concerned about the risk of harm to your child or children. Sometimes even if you haven’t ticked any of these boxes, there may be something in your overview that suggests there could be a risk. So, for example, if you mention that your children’s father is about to be released from prison, they will probably look into this further.