Divorce and Children

When considering the consequences of divorce or dissolution for the children involved,  is important to determine whether you have parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child.

Parental responsibility gives the parent the responsibility or taking all the important decisions in the child’s life including education, religion and medical care. It also enables a parent to make day-to-day decisions.

The duties involved in parental responsibility will change from time to time as the child grows older.

If you are married, both you and your spouse will have parental responsibility for any children of the marriage.

Mothers automatically acquire parental responsibility upon the birth of their children. If you are an unmarried father and were registered on the child’s birth certificate after 1 December 2003 then you will have acquired parental responsibility for your child.

If this does not apply to you, you will need legal advice on how to obtain parental responsibility for your child.

It is widely accepted that parents are the best people to decide with whom their children should reside and when they see their non-resident parent. If, however, an agreement cannot be reached, either parent can make an application for residence and contact and other orders pursuant to the Children Act 1989.

Cunningtons’ Family Law department can give you full information and advice in this regard.

Cunningtons LLP: Specialist Family Lawyers

Cunningtons LLP has a specialist Family Law Department based at its offices in Braintree, Wickford and Chelmsford.

Our team of Family Law solicitors has significant expertise in Family Law and Children Law and we are all members of Resolution. In other words, we are experts at what we do, so you can be sure that the advice you receive is accurate and realistic.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are common questions we get asked about family and matrimonial law.

If you cannot find the answer here, please contact us for an answer.


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