Child Contact, Non-Molestation Order and Care Proceedings


The lawyers at Larkin Cassidy Solicitors have spent many years assisting clients to pursue applications in respect of children and have extensive experience in representing parties who need the assistance of the Court with a view to securing a protective order or to regulate who is entitled to live in the home.

Changing a Child's Name

If you are seeking to change, amend or alter a child’s fore or surname on the birth certificate Larkin Cassidy Solicitors can advise you on the process and what is achievable.

BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRATION (NI) ORDER 1976 www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1976/1041/contents

  • The 1976 Order governs the process of:
  • Re-registration of birth
  • Forename change where a child is under two years of age
  • Recorded change of name and/or Surname
  • Another useful link when considering a name change is: nidirect.gov.uk/gro
Family Law Adoption

If you are considering a private adoption, for example if you are a step parent, Sinead Larkin can guide you through the process which while relatively straight forward can be a lengthy process involving a number of different parties including input from the local Trust and the Guardian Ad Litem Agency.

ADOPTION (NI) ORDER 1987 www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1987/2203/contents

Other useful links when considering a private adoption are:

Child Custody

If you have separated from your spouse or partner, if you are a grandparent or if you have a “significant relationship” with a child and you are not being permitted to see that child then you may be entitled to apply for an Order in respect of the child. Below is a brief review of the legislation to assist you.

THE CHILDREN (NI) ORDER 1995 www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1995/755

The Children (NI) Order 1995 is the central piece of legislation which, in the absence of agreement between the parties, regulated the rights of the child to have contact with the non resident parent (for parent read step parent or any person having Parental Responsibility for that child) or other significant adult. The Children (NI) Order can assist in the determination of where & with whom the child will reside pursuant to a Residence Order application.

  • Residence Order
  • Contact Order

In addition to addressing issues of Contact and Residence the Children Order also provides for the following private law applications to Family Proceedings Court closest to where the child resides or is habitually resident:

  • Specific Issue Order
  • Prohibited Steps Order
  • Parental Responsibility Order
  • Shared Residence Order

 Specific Issue Order
If a matter arises in respect of a child upon which the parents of that child can not agree, for example changing the child’s name, the school which the child will attend etc. the parties may bring an application before the Court to have the specific issue determined.

Prohibited Steps Order
If a parent anticipates or is aware of an act in respect of a child which the parent does not consent to for example the removal of the child from the jurisdiction the parent may issue an application to prohibit any step being taken in respect of that child which would alter the rights of the child or the person taking the application, until the Court can determine the issue.

 Parental Responsibility Order
When a child is born Parental Responsibility automatically vests in the Mother of that child. If you are a married father then you too will automatically acquire Parental Responsibility for your child. If you are an unmarried father and your name has been registered on the child’s Birth Certificate then you will have Parental Responsibility for your child. If your name is not on the Child’s Birth Certificate and you are not married you will have to apply to Court for a Parental Responsibility Order. A civil partner is a step parent and therefore entitled to acquire parental responsibility for his/her partner’s child.

Shared Residence Order
This type of Order can be applied for in a variety of circumstances, most notably where there is a high level of agreement between the parents of the child as to the arrangements for that child. A person who has been granted a Residence or Shared Residence Order will acquire Parental Responsibility for the subject child if s/he does not already have Parental Responsibility for the child.

The Children (NI) Order 1995 also governs Public Law cases as applicable to children. Such applications relate to children at risk from various forms of physical or emotional abuse or neglect and involve the Local Authority/Trust taking an application for one of two main Orders:

  • Care Order
  • Supervision Order

This element of the Children Order applies to children living in any circumstances which are deemed to place the child at risk from a variety of harms. Legal advice is always recommended should the Trust become involved with any child living within your household.

Child Abduction from Northern Ireland and The Hague Convention on Child Abduction

www.hcch.net

If your partner or spouse is not from this jurisdiction and if you are concerned that you child may be unlawfully removed from this jurisdiction or unlawfully retained in another jurisdiction without your consent you should consult Sinead Larkin who has extensive experience in securing the return of children to this jurisdiction and in preventing children from being removed from this jurisdiction.

There are a number of issues to be considered in cases where a child has been abducted from this jurisdiction and such cases are often complex and require expert advice and assistance to secure resolution. If you find yourself facing this issue you should contact a Family Law Solicitor at Larkin Cassidy Solicitors immediately.

Domestic Violence

Sinead Larkin has for many years worked with Women’s Aid NI in providing assistance to women and children in crisis. If you feel you are at risk you should always seek advice from an experienced Family Law Solicitor such as Larkin Cassidy Solicitors who will be able to liaise with services such as Women’s Aid who can provide you with additional support and counselling services to put you and your family on the road to recovery.

You can contact Women’s Aid via their website: www.belfastwomensaid.org.uk

If you have been threatened, harassed or intimidated you may be entitled to various protective Orders of the Court to assist you in protecting yourself or children who live you. Below is a brief review of the legislation to assist you.

THE FAMILY HOMES AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (NI) ORDER 1998 www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1998/1071

The Family Homes and Domestic Violence (NI) Order 1998 regulates the occupation of the Family Home and also provides protection to those who are the subject of Domestic Violence within various relationships, those relationships being specified in the legislation.

The two main Orders which the Court can grant pursuant to this Order are:

  • Non Molestation Order
  • Occupation Order

Non Molestation Order
This Order, when granted, prevents the person against whom it is granted from threatening harassing or intimidating, or having a third party do so on his/her behalf, the person in whose favour the Order has been made. If this Order is breached the person in whose favour the Order has been made has the right to report the matter to the PSNI and the Respondent will be arrested.

 Occupation Order
This Order, when granted, regulates who can reside in the family home. The Court may upon application, direct that one person be removed from the family home and be prohibited from re-entering the family home so as to provide the person remaining in the family home with peaceful use and enjoyment of the property. The basis for exclusion from the family home would be so that the occupant is protected from the person excluded. It would be normal in such cases to also seek the protection of a Non Molestation Order.

The Family Homes and Domestic Violence Order provides protections to the applicant provided they meet the criteria set out in the Order. If you have been the subject of domestic abuse you should contact Larkin Cassidy Solicitors for expert legal advice.

You should note that even if you do not meet the criteria to apply for a Non Molestation Order that you may be entitled to seek the protection of the Court pursuant to the Harassment (NI) Order 1997. If you have been the subject of two of more incidences of physical or verbal abuse or harassment you can seek an Injunction from the County Court which will provide you with protection.

Should you require confidential advice or assistance on any of the matters set out above or any other area of Family Law please contact:

Sinéad Larkin or Aoife Clayton
Family Law Department
Larkin Cassidy Solicitors
2 Carlisle Circus
Belfast
BT14 6AT

Tel: 028 90 992454
Fax: 028 90 992455
Email: sinead@larkincassidy.com

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