When you go through a family breakdown, it is vital that you make good decisions for your children. This may be difficult because you will have your own anxieties about the future.
There’s a lot to think about, and plenty of potential for disagreement about what should happen. Decisions about where your children should live and with whom (disputes about residence), or who they should see, how often and for how long (disputes about contact) can provoke strong feelings. As people become more mobile, there can also be disagreements when one parent wants to move away, either to somewhere else in the UK, or abroad.
Not everyone who may want to make major decisions about a child is legally entitled to do this. Parental responsibility isn’t a parent’s automatic right and so you may need to apply to the court for it. We can guide you through that process. We can also advise you if you are a step-parent or other relative looking to acquire parental responsibility for children you are looking after (see also special guardianship).
If you share parental responsibility with someone else, you can take some decisions alone (though it is usually best to consult with the other parent and try to agree). Some decisions have to be made jointly. This includes any decisions to move abroad, or to change a child’s name. We can advise you about shared parental responsibility and how this works.
If you are involved in a family dispute about a child, we can advise and represent you. We can also help with mediation, collaborative law and other dispute resolution methods that can help you reach good agreements without going to court [link to mediation and collaborative law webpages].
If there are serious allegations of domestic violence or domestic abuse, then this will affect how any disputes about your child are dealt with, and you will need specialist family advice. Our team is well-equipped to help.
There may even be an extreme situation where one parent has abducted a child, and emergency action is needed. We can give immediate advice if child abduction is possible or has already happened.
We can also help if social services become involved.
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