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There are some common misconceptions and questions around Private Family Law and children law proceedings. In this series, we cover a range of topics, breaking down the myths and explaining how it works.

The Private Family Court can be a complex environment. There are many processes to understand and issues that can arise. This series covers the common themes, misconceptions, assumptions and queries I’ve noticed in my thirty years advising and representing families and children. This article provides an overview of each.

Children Law Proceedings & Private Family Law Series – common questions and misconceptions

#1 – What are Private Law Proceedings?

This is one of the most common questions we get.

In this article, I cover the three main types of proceedings that relate to children: financial, public law, and private law.

You can read the article here.

#2 – How do Courts make their decisions?

There are a variety of sources that lawyers and Courts consider when approaching children’s proceedings. This article looks at each of those elements.

You can read the article here.

#3 – Which Courts deal with children law proceedings?

Prior to 2013, when the Family Court was created, children proceedings were dealt with in individual court centres. Now they are held in local family court centres, which has simplified the process. But where do you go if parents live in different areas of the country? Is there a preference for which Court you should apply to?

This article offers advice on applying and finding the right family court centre for you.

You can read the article here.

#4 – Child custody and access myths

We’re often asked about “child custody” and “access”, but these terms haven’t actually existed since the introduction of the Children Act in 1989. We now have “Parental Responsibility” instead. This article looks at the out-dated terms.

You can read the article here.

#5 – What is the Children Act 1989?

When the Children Act 1989 was introduced it changed children proceedings. This article covers what the Act is, how it changed the law at the time, and how it’s been changed since.

You can read the article here.

#6 – Do I need to apply to the Court for an Order to see my children?

Following the introduction of the Children Act 1989, the Court only makes Orders in relation to children when absolutely necessary. This article looks at the situations in which the Court would get involved and how someone can apply for an Order.

It also provides advice for separated parents who wish to document an agreement but don’t wish to put their family through a lengthy, formal Court process.

You can read the article here.

#7 – Is there a set level of contact?

What factors determine a parent’s level of contact with their children? Does one parent have a greater level of parental responsibility than the other? What about contact arrangements for special days, events and holidays? This article answers those key questions.

It also looks at how arrangements can be changed as the family’s needs change.

You can read the article here.

#8 – Do I have to provide contact between my children and ex partner?

In situations where one parent’s ability to look after the children is in question or there is a significant dispute between parents, one parent may wish to limit the contact given between the children and their former partner. This article looks at the rules around providing contact and how to manage concerns if you have them.

You can read the article here.

#9 – Introducing new partners to your children

There aren’t any legal regulations over when to introduce new partners to your children but it’s wise to approach this sensitively, as it can often be a very difficult and emotive time for the family.

This article offers advice on agreeing arrangements over how to introduce new partners and identifies some areas of genuine concern to be aware of.

You can read the article here.

#10 – Taking children on holiday within the UK

We’re often asked if parents need consent to take their children on holiday within the UK. In short, the general answer is no, but there are a number of specific issues that need to be considered. And if you’re intending on taking them out of school to attend the holiday, then consent is almost certainly required.

In this article we share advice on what you need to consider when taking children on holiday within the UK and the actions you need to take in certain situations.

You can read the article here.

#11 – Taking children on holiday abroad

If you’re planning on taking your child abroad, you will need consent from the other parent. It’s not always necessary for this agreement to be recorded in writing, but there are some key exceptions (where if you don’t have it, your holiday could be stopped at the border of the country you are visiting, as some check for papers).

This article explains what you need to do in order to take your children on holiday abroad and looks at what happens when a parent refuses to provide that consent.

There are some quite serious consequences if children are taken abroad without consent – as this can be viewed as abduction – so it’s important to know what to do.

You can read the article here.

#12 – Advice for splitting school holidays and special days

When it comes to school holidays, religious days, bank holidays, teacher training days and birthdays, there are a variety of ways that these can be split between parents. This article looks at some of the options and our advice for arrangements.

You can read the article here.

#13 – How to split Christmas between separated parents

Christmas (and other important culture and religious holidays) are often a source of great stress and contention between separated parents – but they don’t have to be.

This article looks at the different arrangements we’ve seen to work.

You can read the article here.

#14 – What if your child is ill on a contact weekend?

If your child is unwell, should they still go to the other parent, or should they stay where they are? It depends. How ill are they? Do they have a health condition? Do you have a Court Order? If you do, does it cover sickness or injury?

This article looks at the different scenarios and offers advice for each.

You can read the article here.

#15 – Do I have to provide school updates to the other parent?

If you are the main care giving parent, are you responsible for updating the other parent and sharing reports on how the children are doing at school? The short answer is usually no. This article explains why.

You can read the article here.

#16 – What to do if parents don’t agree on giving consent at school

There are certain activities, trips and lessons in school that require parental consent. What happens if one parent refuses to provide consent to the activity or lesson? This article covers a few example scenarios and what to do if you’re in that situation.

You can read the article here.

#17 – What age must children of different sex have separate bedrooms?

Legally, there is no specific age when related children of different sex must have separate bedrooms, but it is a common question and misconception. This article looks at the key things that Courts consider when reviewing shared care and sleeping arrangements for children.

You can read the article here.

#18 – Do you need consent to move abroad with your child?

Do separated parents need consent from the other parent if they want to move abroad with their child or children? The simple answer is almost invariably, “yes”.

You can read the article here.

#19 – Do you need permission to move your child within England and Wales?

Do you need consent from the other parent to move your child within England and Wales? In short, no – but it’s not always that simple.

You can read the article here.

#20 – Who can I bring my children into contact with?

Who are you allowed to bring your children into contact with and what happens if you want to restrict them from spending time with certain people?

You can read the article here.

#21 – Do you need consent to use a babysitter or to allow your child to attend a sleepover?

Are separated parents required to gain consent from the other to use babysitters or arrange sleepovers for their children? Legally, no. But if it becomes a regular occurrence when a parent is unavailable, it may be appropriate to reconsider the contact arrangement.

You can read the article here.

#22 – What happens when children’s clubs and activities attendance conflicts with contact agreements?

These days there are a plethora of children’s clubs and activities which are arranged by parents. They may inadvertently clash with the continuation of a contact relationship with the other parent though. In this situation, what happens?

You can read the article here.

#23 – Arrangements For Parental Attendance At Child Appointments

It is appropriate and indeed necessary for there to be parental attendance at child appointments, and in most children’s lives there are a number of appointments which arise relating to the child’s care, educational performance or medical situation. If parental cooperation is difficult, what happens?

You can read the article here.

#24 – What happens when parents have opposing views on medical treatment for their children?

The issue of vaccines and other forms of medical treatment can, on occasion, cause significant differences between parents. If there are disputes between parents, what happens?

You can read the article here.

#25 – What happens when parents hold very different religious views upon separation?

The subject of religion can be a very difficult and complex area to negotiate in circumstances where parents may hold very different religious views upon separation.

You can read the article here.

#26 – Children’s belongings – arrangements for handover

What belongings need to be provided at handovers for provision of contact and upon return of child to a primary carer?

You can read the article here.

#27 – Grandparents & wider family rights

In general terms, where parents separate there is an understood acceptance that children benefit from relations with wider family connections.

You can read the article here.

#28 – Children Act – parental responsibility

The concept of parental responsibility came into law in 1989 with the enactment of the Children Act. How is parental responsibility defined? And what is the current situation with the Children Act?

You can read the article here.

#29 – Step-parents’ rights following separation

With a significant rise in the number of blended families what rights, if any, a step-parent has with regards to children upon separation.

You can read the article here.

#30 – When can my child decide on contact?

When can my child decide on contact? The strict answer is on the child’s 16th birthday. However, it is not always that straightforward.

You can read the article here.

#31 – What is a Parental Responsibility Agreement?

A Parental responsibility agreement is defined as follows “The legal rights and duties in respect of a child and his or her property”.

You can read the article here.

#32 – Parental Responsibility – Step-parents

I am often asked whether step-parents hold parental responsibility for children. The short answer is no. There are, however, a number of ways within which a step-parent can secure parental responsibility.

You can read the article here.

#33 – Parental responsibility – Devolvement

Devolvement of parental responsibility will take place nearly every day, like when parents send their children to school or into other care.

You can read the article here.

#34 – Separating parents – do I need a court order?

The Children’s Act 1989 identifies that if parents are in agreement there should not be a Court Order, but when might you turn to the Court?

You can read the article here.

#35 – Parenting Plan – what is it?

A parenting plan is a joint agreed document which sets out expectations and agreements in regards to child care following separation.

You can read the article here.

#36 – Family mediation – what is it and is it a requirement?

When parents are unable to reach agreement between themselves it is possible for them to make a referral for formal mediation.

You can read the article here.

#37 – Children Act applications – what should be included?

When arrangements for the children cannot be agreed between the parents then ultimately the final course of action will be to instigate a court application.

You can read the article here.

#38 – Which forms are used to make a court application?

At the time of writing this, in order to make a private law Children Act application, the three primary forms which you will need to give consideration to using for your court application are known as the C100, C2 and C1A.

You can read the article here.


We will continue to add more articles as this series continues.

If you have any questions about any of the topics raised or children law proceedings in general, please get in touch and our Family team would be happy to assist you.