If you and your partner legally adopted your child/children together whilst you were in a civil partnership then you will have parental responsibility for them. This means that you have rights and duties to look after them, for example in relation to healthcare, education and welfare. These rights don’t automatically end when your civil partnership breaks down – you and your former partner will need to come up with an arrangement that meets the needs of your child. Having parental responsibility also means that you have the right to be involved in important decisions about your child, even if you are not their main carer after the dissolution of your civil partnership is finalised.
It is in the best interests of your child/children for you and your former partner to reach an agreement in relation to their future care arrangements which can also include other importance decisions such as where they will attend school.
If you have an amicable relationship with your former partner you may be able to decide between you what arrangements best meet the needs of your child/children. We can assist you with any negotiations with your former partner to achieve the right solution for you.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may wish to try mediation, which can assist in resolving any disputes in an amicable manner. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a trained mediator assists in discussions between you and your former partner to help you to reach a solution, without the stress and cost of going to court.
If you are still unable to reach agreement, you can ask the court to make important decisions on your behalf.
- There are several types of order that the court can make, including a:
Child Arrangements Order – these determine where your child should live, how much time the child should spend with each parent and the format that this contact may take (e.g. at home, in the community, at a contact centre);
- Specific Issue Order – these are put in place if there is a specific decision that you and your former partner can’t agree on e.g. whether your child should have a particular medical treatment;
- Prohibited Steps Order – this can prevent a parent from taking a particular action in relation to the child without consent e.g. taking them abroad without consulting the other parent.
The court will take into consideration a number of factors in reaching their decision, including the child’s age, their wishes and feelings and their educational and health needs. The older the child is, the more weight will be given to their feelings by the court. They may be spoken to by an independent expert who will help to ensure that their views are heard.
In the event that you require any advice or assistance in relation to child arrangements following separation with your partner, we have a number of specialist family lawyers who can help. Please contact our experienced solicitors on 0808 252 5231 to discuss next steps.