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The Court Process

Are you a parent, grandparent or other family member involved in a dispute concerning children? Are you unable to agree on a school or a holiday, or with whom a child should live or spend time? Blacks Solicitors’ expert Family Law team can help guide you through the Court process.

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility is a term which encompasses all the responsibilities parents have for their children. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.

If a child’s parents were married when the child was born, the father will also have parental responsibility.

For all children born after the 1 December 2003 a father who is not married to the child’s mother will acquire parental responsibility if he is named on the child’s birth certificate. If the father is not named on the birth certificate and the parents were unmarried at the time of the child’s birth the father can obtain parental responsibility by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or making an application to Court.

Child Arrangements Orders (CAO)

An application for a CAO can be made when arrangements made informally by parents have broken down. It will set out where a child is to live and outline the arrangements for the child to stay with, or visit, the non-resident parent.

Child Arrangements Contact Orders can also be made in favour of another family member, such as a grandparent.

When considering whether to make a CAO the Court will only make an order if they feel that it will be in the best interests of the child.

Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

A non-resident parent has an obligation to pay child maintenance to the resident parent.

The amount of maintenance the non-resident parent will be expected to pay will depend upon the income of that parent together with the number of overnight stays the children have with them and whether there are any other children in their household. The calculator can be accessed here:

If you are a parent in dispute with the CMS we can help you to navigate the complex CMS Tribunal system.

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents play a vital role in bringing up children. While grandparents don’t have an automatic right to make an Application to Court for contact with their grandchildren, they do have the right to apply to the Court for permission to make an Application. When considering whether or not to grant permission the Court will look at various factors such as the connection and strength of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild.

Parental Agreements

Some separating parents manage to form agreements between themselves and simply want that agreement to be recorded.

We can prepare a contract for you which will outline the arrangements for your children. While not completely binding on either of you, having a written record of the agreed terms can be extremely helpful and offer considerable reassurance.

Prohibited Steps Order

If you have a concern about something that your ex-partner wishes to do for, or with, your child and you want to prevent it from occurring, it may be appropriate to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. Most commonly an application for a Prohibited Steps Order will be to prevent a parent from taking a child out of the country or to prevent a parent from changing a child’s surname.

Relocation of Children

If a parent wishes to relocate outside of England or Wales with their child they will need the express permission of all those who share parental responsibility.

If you wish to move overseas with your child and your ex-partner objects you will need to make an Application to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. Preparing an Application for relocation requires expertise, and it is recommended that you consult with us as to the merits of your case at an early stage.

If your ex-partner is seeking to move overseas with your child, against your wishes, it is imperative that you act quickly to ensure that your child is not abducted.

Specific Issue Order (SIO)

If a dispute has arisen between you and your ex-partner in relation to a particular aspect of your child’s upbringing, the Court can determine that particular dispute by making an SIO. Specific SIOs can relate to any aspect of a child’s upbringing but most commonly will relate to issues such as schooling, changing of name, or attendance at a particular event or holiday.

Special Guardianship Orders (SGO)

An SGO can have the effect of legally recognising the relationship you have with a child you look after as it gives you parental responsibility and enables you to make decisions in relation to their upbringing. An SGO also means that you can exercise your parental responsibility and exclude any other person with responsibility in your decisions (except for another Special Guardian), unless you are trying to change the child’s surname or remove the child from the country for three months or longer.

The purpose of an SGO is to give children a secure environment in which to grow up without cutting their ties with their birth parents. If you would like to play a more active role in decisions relating to a child you care for, Blacks’ Family Law team can help.


For more information about any of the above, or for a no obligation discussion about a dispute concerning children, please email or call Blacks’ Family Law team today on 0113 227 9285.

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