Family Law FAQs

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  • What is 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 and his or her property. The following list sets out a number of the key roles involved when a person has parental responsibility for a child:
    Providing a home and maintaining and caring for the child
    Deciding on a name and religion for the child
    Providing for the child’s education
    Agreeing to

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  • When Can a Child’s Surname Be Changed?

    A child’s name can only be changed on their birth certificate in order to correct a spelling mistake. The child can however be re-registered for two reasons:

    1.)    In order to record the natural father’s details if they were left out at the time of first registering the child, or
    2.)    If the parents of the child were unmarried at the time of birth and subsequently get married, the birth can be re-registered to reflect this.

    In both these

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  • What is a Contact Order?

    A Contact Order is one of a range of orders available to the Family Courts under Article 8 of the Children (NI) Order 1995.

    If a child lives with one parent, a contact order may be necessary to allow the child to visit, stay with, or contact the other parent. This will be necessary if there is a disagreement between the parents about who the child should have contact with.

    The child can make an application for a contact

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  • What is a Residence Order?

    If parents cannot agree who their child should live with, they can apply to a court for a residence order. A residence order is an order settling the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom a child is to live.

    The child can make an application for a residence order, but only in exceptional circumstances and if he proves that he has sufficient understanding.

    The following people may also make an application for a residence order:

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  • When can a child be taken into care by a local HSC Trust?

    A child can be taken into care by the local Health and Social Care Trust if a court makes a Care Order. These orders allow the HSC Trust to intervene in family life where a child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering significant harm. This harm must be attributable to an unreasonable level of care or to the child being beyond parental control.

    A Care Order places the child in the care of the HSC Trust and

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  • At what age can a child be left at home alone?

    There is no minimum age at which children in the United Kingdom can be left at home alone. The NSPCC have recommended that children around the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time. They also suggest that children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight. Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

    While there is no legal minimum age for leaving

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  • What age should a babysitter be?

    In Northern Ireland there is no minimum age for babysitting. The NSPCC however recommends that parents should try to find a babysitter who is 16 or over. If a child comes to any harm while someone below the age of 16 is looking after him, the parents of the child may be held responsible. Parents should be sure that the babysitter they are relying on is mature enough to look after their child, even if they are 16 or

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