Q. My husband and I are divorced. Our son will be going to secondary school next year but we can’t agree where he should go. What can we do?
As a family lawyer I get asked a lot of questions such as can I take my child on holiday, how do I get custody of the children etc. etc. Below are two frequently asked questions. When you have children the issues don’s stop for many years.
A.When parents separate whether they are married or not a number of important and often emotional issues relating to the upbringing of the children can arise such as what school a child should go to, what religion a child should be bought up in or whether a child should be vaccinated. It is of course always best for everyone involved and most particularly the child to try and reach agreement with the other parent on such important issues. However, if you are unable to reach agreement and provided you have parental responsibility for the child concerned you can apply to the court under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for what is known as a Specific Issue Order. This does exactly what it says on the tin – it allows the court to determine a particular issue in relation to the child. For this purpose the child concerned must be under 16.
Q. I have heard the phrase “parental responsibility” but what does it mean and how do I get it?
A. Parental responsibility means the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has for a child and their property. A person who has parental responsibility for a child has the right to make important decisions about that child’s upbringing. Some examples are – whether or not the child receives medical treatment, how and where the child is to be educated, which religion the child should follow and giving authority for the child to leave the country. Any such decisions must be agreed by all those with parental responsibility. This doesn’t however mean that if you have parental responsibility for a child who doesn’t live with you, you have the right to be involved in decisions on a day to day basis. A mother automatically has parental responsibility. A father has it if he was married to the mother or if his name is on the birth certificate (for a child born after 1 December 2003 ) or if not the mother can agree and a parental responsibility agreement can be entered into. The court can grant parental responsibility in certain circumstances.
For specialist advice about your particular circumstances call our local divorce and family lawyer Karen Weiner on 01923 521003 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org