It is a sad reality of life that not all relationships last forever. Whenever a relationship breaks down, there are bound to be difficulties and most parents' first concern is in relation to the children. It is unrealistic to expect children not to be affected by separation. It is therefore important to keep this in mind when considering how to proceed.

Upon separation, most parents are able to reach an agreement in relation to where the child is to live and what contact the other parent should have. If there is a dispute and this cannot be resolved between the parties or through mediation, then it is open to either parent, as a last resort, to make an application to the Court for a child arrangement order (formerly residence and contact).

Parental Responsibility (PR) is all the rights, duties and responsibilities that go with being a parent. The mother automatically has PR, the father has PR if married to the mother or if the child was born after 1st December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate. A father or step parent can also obtain PR by agreement or through the courts.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act came into force in 2009 and recognise same sex couples as legal parents of children. This means that a partner can be registered on the birth certificate alongside the mother. The rules differ depending on whether or not the same sex couple are married or in a civil partnership. This is a complex area and one of which many solicitors have little or no knowledge. Suzanne is a specialist in this area of law working closely with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester.

We can also advise on Donor Agreements and Parental Responsibility for same sex couples, whether this is by a parental responsibility agreement or court order.

With our vast experience in this area of law, we can help you deal with such issues and advise on the procedure and the appropriateness of any agreement or proposal. Suzanne is an Advanced Member of the Law Society Family Panel in the area of Child Law (private).

We are happy to meet to discuss your requirements and advise on costs, which can include fixed fee arrangements.