Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Child custody: When to call in a solicitor

It is always better for the children if both parents discuss arrangements for them in a constructive manner when their own relationship has come to an end. Unfortunately, the ending of a relationship is an emotional and often traumatic experience, and it is often the children that are left picking up the pieces of a relationship breakdown.

During these times, it can be difficult for one or both parties involved to avoid conflict when making arrangements for the children’s current and future care. Sometimes the conflict between the parting parents is so intense that each is willing to see the matter settled in court. This is not always necessary though as solicitors can mediate and identify the most constructive and beneficial arrangement for the children before court proceedings are necessary.

In the case of conflict that cannot be resolved amicably, there are Child Custody Court Orders which each of the parents can appeal to.

Child Custody Court Orders

When parents fail to find a resolution even with the help of family solicitors, there are a number of Court Orders which can determine the future course of action both parents must take with regard to the care of their children. Such Court Orders can determine which parent the child or children will live with, as well as agreeing how much time the child should spend with the non-resident parent.

Additional matters that may require a court order to decide are those concerning the child’s education, their medical requirements and any religious issues. Depending on the particular issue in contention, there are different Court Order options available which a family solicitor will be able to advise upon.

The child custody Court Order options are:

  • Child Arrangement Order
  • Specific Issue Order
  • Prohibited Steps Order
Child Arrangement Order

Previously called the Child Contact and Residence Order, the Child Arrangement Order is primarily concerned with which parent the child or children will be resident with, as well as how much time the non-resident parent will be able to spend with their children. It will also determine exactly when and even where the non-resident parent will be able to spend their time with the children, such as every weekend or every second weekend.

It should be noted that courts usually consider it to be more beneficial to the child or children to have both parents present in their lives in some capacity, though the circumstances of each individual situation will be considered in depth.

A Child Arrangement Order may also determine the surname of the child or children if the parents cannot come to an agreement between themselves.

Specific Issue Order         

This Order relates to matters of parental responsibility. While that may sound like quite a broad term, there are a few specific issues it covers.

Parents may dispute which school the child should attend, or which medical treatments the child needs or the role of religion in their upbringing. Additionally, if the resident parent wishes to move abroad with the child, the court will have to consider all the factors involved before allowing it.

Prohibited Steps Order

The Prohibited Steps Order can prevent one of the parents from allowing their child or children from associating with a particular person deemed to have a negative influence. It is also this court order that can prevent a resident parent from moving the child to another country (rather than making provision for it), or to legally prevent them from forcing certain medical procedures and treatments upon the child.

Article contributed by North Yorkshire Law

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to North Yorkshire Law directly.

Published on 16th May 2018
(Last updated 7th July 2023)