Children Law Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions about family law, answered.

What is Family Law?

Family law refers to any law which affects matters relating to children or families. Family law is usually invoked as a result of change of legal status (e.g. marriage, divorce or adoption), where criminal activity is involved (e.g. neglect or abduction), or when parents are unable to agree between themselves regarding contact, responsibility and so on.

If my partner and I separate, does there need to be a formal agreement about our children?

No – the hope is that the two of you can agree arrangements for the children’s care between you, without resorting to family law.

What are the normal arrangements for ‘contact’?

There are no ‘normal’ arrangements. You need to reach an agreement which works for you and, most importantly, your children.  It is common nowadays for children to spend at least some time with each of their parents each week so they have the benefit of both parents having regular involvement in their day to day lives.

Can I stop my ex’s new partner seeing the children?

In the early days of relationship breakdown it may be sensible to wait before introducing children to a new partner. Children need to come to terms with the end of their parents’ relationship and children can sometimes find it difficult when they meet a parent’s new partner.

Whatever you may feel about the new relationship, you should try not to let this affect your decision about the children’s best interests. In the longer term, children should meet their parents’ partners and should feel that the other parent supports this.

I have concerns about my ex-partner caring for my children, what can I do?

Try to discuss your concerns with your ex-partner. If your concerns are more serious and you are worried that your children could come to some harm, you should consider taking legal advice.

I do not know my ex-partner’s new address – can I stop the children staying with him?

You are entitled to know the address at which your children are staying. The same applies to holiday arrangements. Both parents should provide details of addresses and contact numbers so they know where their children are. You both need to apply some common sense. You don’t need to tell your ex-partner your every move but do provide them with the information that you would expect to receive.

Does the court favour mothers in contact disputes?

No. Both parents are equally important in their children’s lives. If one parent has historically been a child’s main carer, this is a factor to consider. In cases involving babies and very young children, it may be more likely that – at least in the short term – they spend the majority of their time in their mother’s care.

When should I talk to my ex-partner about the children?

Try not to have difficult conversations in front of the children as it can be very upsetting for them to see their parents disagreeing. Try and focus on what is best for your children rather than thinking about what your ex-partner wants or does not want.