Disputes Over Children

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Call now on the Emsleys Family Law Helpline:
0844 939 0066

What's best for the children

When relationships break down there can be disagreements over where children should live and how, when and where the children should see the other parent.

Our Leeds based Family Law team are committed to helping resolve these disputes in a dignified and civilised way, by agreement if possible. We understand that children need certainty and routine to their arrangements and we do everything we can to help achieve this and put their interests first.

If a dispute does occur that cannot be resolved, it's possible to apply to court for a number of orders depending on the nature of the problem.


How we can help

Our Leeds based Family Law team can advise you on your legal position in relation to your children and the best courses of action to take to ensure that the rights of you and your children are protected.

We strongly believe that most disputes should be resolved by discussion rather than involving children in an emotional tug-of-war. However, if after negotiation no resolution is found, we're experienced in representing parents at all stages of court proceedings.

The law aims to give children the right to know and have a relationship with any people who might be important in their lives. We often advise grandparents and other family members who may have problems seeing their grandchildren, close relatives, or children they are caring for.

Questions & Answers

Q: After a divorce do both parents remain responsible for their children?

A: Yes, both parents retain parental responsibility for the children. The court will not make orders concerning children unless there is a dispute between the parents that cannot be resolved without a court order.

Q: Is the situation the same if the parents have never married?

A: If the parents are not married and a child was born before 1 December 2003, only the mother has parental responsibility for the child. However, fathers can obtain parental responsibility by agreement with the mother or by applying to court for a parental responsibility order.

On 1 December 2003 the law changed and now if a father's name is on the child's birth certificate he will automatically share parental responsibility with the mother as though the parents were married.

The court has the same powers to make orders in relation to children of unmarried parents, as when parents are or have been married.

Q: Do disputes over children always have to end up in court?

A: No, and we always try to resolve matters before they get to that stage. We believe that where possible, disputes over children should be handled by discussion rather than involving the children in an emotional and potentially messy dispute.

If required, we can arrange a referral to mediation for you and in many cases this can avoid the need for court proceedings. However, if negotiations fail to resolve the problem, we're confident and experienced in representing parents at all stages of the court process.

Q: What kind of orders can a court make if there is a dispute in relation to children?

A: The court has the power to make a range of different orders depending on the nature of the problem.

A residence order can be made if parents cannot agree about where a child should live, and a contact order can be made if parents fail to agree how often and for how long a child sees each parent. The court can also make orders if parents cannot agree about a specific issue in relation to children, such as education, medical care, what name a child is known by or whether they should be allowed to move to another country.

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