Issues relating to arrangements for children can be emotional and stressful especially if parents are no longer in a relationship with each other. We are here to advise and support you and to ensure that you find a solution to issues that relate to your children, as swiftly and painlessly as possible. We have extensive experience acting for parents, step parents and grandparents.

Parental Responsibility (PR)

This is the legal status of parents to make and be involved in important decisions about their child’s life. PR is automatically granted to a Mother. Fathers acquire PR either by being married to the mother or, if unmarried, named on the child’s birth certificate if the child is born after 1st December 2003.

Step parents can acquire PR if certain requirements are met.

Child Arrangements Order (CAO)

These Orders can stipulate where a child lives, with which parent and how much time they spend with the non-resident parent. Historically these have been called “Custody and Access” Orders or “Residence and Contact” Orders.

When parents separate there are many decisions that need to be made. If agreement cannot be reached it is sometimes necessary to make an application to the Court. Such applications can be for a defined schedule of time your child spends with each parent, the travel and handover arrangements, which school your child attends, your child’s surname and where your child should live.

Relocation following Separation

It is not unusual for the parent with primary care to wish to relocate, either to another part of England and Wales or abroad. Moving can impact on the non-resident parent’s time with the child.

It is an offence to remove a child under 16 from the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the consent of each person with PR or a Court Order. The exception being a Special Guardian who can remove the child for up to 3 months without the parents’ consent or Court Order. A parent with a “lives with” Order can remove the child for up to a month, without the other parent’s permission. A non-resident parent must have the consent of the resident parent or an Court Order if he/she wishes to take the child on holiday abroad.

Where parents share PR both parents have a say in decisions about where geographically a child lives. A parent cannot relocate without the consent of everyone with PR or a Court Order.

The factors to be considered will depend on whether the parent’s relocation with the child is internal (within England and Wales) or abroad.

If a parent learns of the other parent’s plan to relocate without consent and without a Court Order, it is possible to apply to the Court for an Order to prevent the remove until the Court fully considers the proposed move. The application would be for a “Prohibited Steps Order”. The application can be dismissed if the parents then agree to the relocation. If the Court considers the relocation to be in the child’s best interests, it can order relocation. A Court can also decide relocation is not in the child’s best interests.


Prior to issuing a Court application a parent is encouraged to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a Mediator. If parents agree to mediate it can avoid the need for Court proceedings. We encourage our clients to consider all options of resolution that may be suitable for them prior to commencing a Court application.

At Parker Bullen all our Family Solicitors have experience in acting for mothers, fathers and Special Guardians in advising on all aspects of the law concerning children matters. They are Resolution Accredited Specialists who promote and encourage effective dispute resolution to conclude matters in a client and child focused way.

We offer a free no obligation initial consultation. Taking legal advice at an early stage can often avoid pitfalls and can enable you resolve matters sooner.

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Your Children & Disputes Team

"I can't thank you enough, I always felt that you had my best interests at the forefront of proceedings"