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Making arrangements for the children – FAQ’s

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Q. I no longer live with my children but I have them to stay overnight twice a week. Am I required to pay child maintenance and how much should I pay?

A. A parent who does not live with their child is required to pay child maintenance to the parent with whom the child lives. Child maintenance is now assessed by the Child Maintenance Service. The amount payable will depend on the gross weekly income of the non-resident parent and may reduce depending on the number of nights per year the children stay with the non-resident parent and also if the non-resident parent has other children living with them. You should check the likely amount of child maintenance to be paid by calling Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988 or using the Child Maintenance Options calculator at: http://www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator/

Q. My ex-partner and I have a son together, Jack, who is now 4 years old. I was not registered as Jack’s father on his birth certificate and I have now been told I do not have parental responsibility for Jack. How can I be given parental responsibility?

A. Parental responsibility means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his/her property. This includes the right to be kept informed about the child by the school and medical professionals, for example.

You can be given parental responsibility if Jack’s mother agrees by you both signing a parental responsibility agreement. If she will not agree, you may need to issue court proceedings for a parental responsibility order in your favour.

Q. My partner and I have recently separated. We have two children together aged 5 and 7. Their mother will only let me see the children once a week for a few hours on a Saturday and is refusing to let the children stay with me overnight. What can I do?

A. You should try to reach an agreement between you as parents about the arrangements for the children. The children’s welfare is paramount and it is important to consider what is in the children’s best interests in light of various factors such as their wishes and feelings, age, understanding and their needs. There is also a presumption that having both parents involved in their upbringing will further the children’s welfare.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you could try mediation or ultimately you may need to issue court proceedings under the Children Act for a child arrangements order setting out when the children are to spend time with you, including regular overnight stays. You should also consider whether you have parental responsibility for the children and if not you can apply to the court for this at the same time.

Q. My ex-wife and I are divorced and have two children together. My ex-wife has told me she wishes to move back to her home country of Australia and take our children with her. I do not think this move is best for the children. What can I do to prevent her leaving?

A. Provided there are no court orders in place, a parent can only remove a child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales if they have the permission of every person with parental responsibility for the child (especially the other parent) or the court’s permission. If they remove the child without this permission, the parent may be committing a criminal offence.

You could issue court proceedings to ask the court for a prohibited steps order to prevent your wife removing the children from England and Wales and you may be advised to seek that she handover the children’s passports. If you become aware of any risk that she may remove the children imminently without your permission, you should contact the Police who may instigate port alert procedures and you should apply urgently to the court without notice for an order preventing her removing the children.

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to children matters, please contact our family law team on 01293 596900 to arrange a fixed fee appointment for £100 plus vat (£120).

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