Arrangements for Children

Initial Meeting with Child Law Team

Issues involving your children are often the most difficult matters for clients and naturally involve high emotion.  At McAlister Family Law, we are totally objective, professional and focused.  We frequently advise and represent children themselves, as well as parents, grandparents, relatives and guardians.  We are members of Resolution, the Law Society Children Panel and the Association of Lawyers for Children.

At our first appointment, we will encourage, where possible, the opportunity of entering to direct discussions with the other parent.

Building on-going co-operation and communication may initially difficult, but it is vital for a child’s emotional well-being.

Where this is not possible we can arrange mediation, family therapy, counselling or discuss the remedies available to you through the courts.

Parental Responsibility

A parent with parental responsibility is automatically entitled to have input and a say in key decisions in their children’s life.  For example whether they should be medically treated, what their religion will be, or how the child is to be educated.

In a marriage, both the mother and father are considered equally responsible for important decisions relating to their child.  The rules do differ if your child was born to unmarried parents prior to 1 December 2003.  Since this date, a father who is registered on the birth certificate automatically acquires parental responsibility.  If the child is born before December 2003 (or after 2003 and the father is not registered on the birth certificate) it is necessary for there to be a formal agreement with the mother or a court order to acquire parental responsibility.

Shared Parenting agreements

Shared parenting agreements are for separated parents or guardians who have reached an agreement regarding their own arrangements for children and who wish for that agreement in writing. These are for people who do not want or need to involve anyone else, including the court, in their family decisions. 

It is an agreed and signed document which sets our clearly the intentions, agreements and practical day-to-day arrangements for the children.  While a shared care agreement cannot be enforced in the same way as a Court Order, it does provide clear evidence, in writing, of the arrangements made and can help if there are disagreements in the future.

Types of orders in
Children Law

In all applications concerning children, the welfare of a child must be the paramount consideration.  The types of order that can be made include:

Child arrangements order – Where a child should live and with whom.  Also how a child’s time is be divided between both parents.

Specific Issue Order- issues that may arise, such as which school the child is to attend, change of surname, should the child receive certain medical treatment or be raised in a particular religion.

Prohibited steps order – An order preventing a person from taking a particular step in relation to a child, such as removing a child from the other parent or out of the jurisdiction.

What the court will
take into account

In all applications concerning children, the Court treats the children’s best interests as the paramount consideration. In doing so, the Court will consider the following:

  • The children’s wishes and feelings (having regard to their age and understanding)
  • The needs of the child
  • The effect the change of circumstances is likely to have on the child
  • The child’s age, sex, background, and so on
  • Any harm the child may suffer or be at risk of suffering
  • How each parent is capable of meeting the child’s needs

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