FAQs About Child & Family Law

Discover answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding Child & Family Law


What is 'parental responsibility'?

'Parental responsibility' is all of the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent has in relation to their child by law.

Who has parental responsibility for a child?

If a child's mother and father are married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, both parents have parental responsibility.

Where a child's father and mother are not married to each other at the time of the child's birth, the mother automatically has parental responsibility; the father only has parental authority if he is named on the birth certificate (if the child was born after 1st December 2003). A father can also acquire parental responsibility by agreement or by seeking a court order.

What orders can a court make in relation to children?

  1. Child Arrangements Orders: the court can make orders dealing with the arrangements as to who a child should live with, spend time with or have contact with.
  2. Prohibited Steps Orders: the court can also prevent a person from taking certain steps concerning a child for example, taking a child abroad.
  3. Specific Issue Orders: the court can determine a specific question that has arisen where the people with parental responsibility for a child cannot agree for example, where parents cannot agree what school the child should attend or perhaps give permission to take the children on holiday abroad if one parent objects.

What is a MIAM?

A MIAM is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.  For most applications relating to children (unless certain exemptions apply) before an application can be made to court it is mandatory to first attend a MIAM.  This is to consider if the dispute can be resolved without attending court.

If the case proceeds to court, there is usually an initial hearing at which point it is sometimes possible to reach an agreement. If an agreement is not reached, then the court gives directions for evidence to be filed.   The case will then be listed for a hearing to determine the application.

Head of Family Law, Sarah Finnis is a qualified specialist Family Lawyer with specialism in financial remedies and children law.


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