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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Fathers Legal Rights

    Can my partner prevent me from accessing my children?

    Your partner does not have the legal authority to deny you access to your child unless such access would harm your child’s well-being.

    Prior to obtaining a court order, one parent may try to obstruct the other’s relationship with the child. In such cases, ensuring the welfare of your child should be your primary concern.

    If you and your partner reach an agreement on the time you’ll spend with your child and wish to formalize it legally, obtaining a court order becomes necessary if consensus cannot be reached.

    Opting for an amicable out-of-court agreement is always in the best interest of your child. If reaching such an agreement becomes challenging, Graysons is available to provide assistance. Our skilled family law solicitors are equipped to facilitate various dispute resolution processes.

    When might the court restrict my visitation rights?

    Upon reaching the court, the judge or magistrates will anticipate that you have explored all avenues to reach agreements independently. This includes engaging in mediation, although exceptions exist, such as cases involving domestic violence.

    Access to your child may be legally withheld by court order if concerns regarding safety and welfare arise, such as:

    • Engagement in criminal activities
    • Instances of domestic abuse
    • Misuse of drugs or alcohol
    • Any other inappropriate behavior jeopardizing your child’s safety

    Furthermore, the other parent can contest any court application you submit by providing evidence of the aforementioned issues.

    In certain circumstances, the other parent may apply to the court for an order against you in your absence if they believe your child is in immediate danger. This is termed an emergency ‘without notice’ order.

    If the court grants a ‘without notice’ order, a subsequent hearing will be scheduled shortly afterward, allowing you to defend the allegations and present your perspective.

    Do I possess the 'right' to see my child?

    Access to children is not an inherent ‘right.’ Parental responsibility (PR) grants certain legal rights and obligations, but there is no automatic entitlement to ‘contact.’

    The law prioritises the child’s welfare, determining access based on its potential to enhance the child’s quality of life rather than solely benefiting the parent.

    However, unless safeguarding concerns are evident, the court promotes maintaining a relationship between the child and both parents.

    Time spent with your child will be arranged if it is deemed beneficial to their welfare. In 2014, the government introduced a presumption favoring the continued involvement of both parents in a child’s life for their welfare.

    Hence, unless evidence suggests you pose a risk to your child, you will likely be granted some form of contact. Nonetheless, in cases of domestic violence, the courts consider potential harm to the other party if contact is facilitated.

    The court also evaluates various factors, including commitment, before reaching a decision.

    Can I obtain access to my child without parental responsibility?

    Even without PR and lacking a voluntary out-of-court agreement on access, you can petition the court for a child arrangements order. If the court grants residence of your child to you, PR will be concurrently conferred. Since 2014, if the court orders your child to spend time with you, it will also contemplate granting PR.

    Even if an out-of-court agreement exists, pursuing PR through either a parental responsibility agreement or court application is advisable.

    If the court approves access, how is it organised?

    Access arrangements are formalised through a court order, known as a ‘child arrangements order.’ This document outlines specific details of the agreement, which may include:

    • Encouragement of the relationship between the child and the other parent
    • Agreements regarding refraining from speaking negatively about each other
    • Specific instructions on handover logistics

    These details are tailored to individual situations and the child’s requirements.

    What recourse do I have if access is denied?

    If access is denied under an informal agreement or in the absence of one, several steps can be taken, including:

    • Attempting resolution through dialogue
    • Seeking legal counsel to draft a formal proposal
    • Engaging a family mediator for dispute resolution
    • Applying to court for a child arrangements order

    If a legally binding agreement is breached, options include direct communication, solicitor intervention, or seeking court enforcement.

    How can access rights be negotiated between parties?

    Upon separation or divorce, prioritizing the child’s welfare is crucial when negotiating future arrangements. Factors to consider include:

    • Historical caregiving roles
    • Child’s age and preferences
    • Living and work arrangements of both parents
    • Financial considerations
    • Swift resolution to minimize uncertainty for the child

    If agreements are reached and co-parenting continues smoothly, a parenting plan can formalize arrangements without court involvement.

    What if access arrangements cannot be agreed upon?

    Seeking solicitor advice early in the process can provide insights into legal considerations and potential solutions. Mediation offers an alternative route, while court proceedings may be necessary if mediation fails or in emergency cases.

    How does the court determine the extent of my access?

    The court’s paramount consideration is your child’s welfare. This is determined by various criteria, including:

    • The child’s wishes and understanding, taking into account their age
    • Their physical, emotional, and educational needs
    • Potential impacts of changes in circumstances
    • Relevant demographic factors such as age, sex, and background
    • Past harm or risk of harm to the child
    • The parents’ capacity to meet the child’s needs

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