The Court has wide powers to make orders in relation to children but the most common when parents separate or divorce are as follows:
A person who has parental responsibility has the right to be involved in major decisions concerning arrangements for a child. A mother automatically has parental responsibility – as does a married father. An unmarried father will have parental responsibility if the registration of the birth took place after 1st December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certiﬁ cate. If not, he can acquire parental responsibility by entering into an agreement with the mother or by order of the court.
A residence order sets out the arrangements as to the person with whom a child will live. It can be shared between two people so the children, in effect, will have more than one place they can call home.
A contact order requires the person with whom a child lives to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order or to have contact in some other form. Contact can be direct (visiting/ staying) or indirect (letters/emails/ presents). Contact with his/her natural parents is regarded as a fundamental right of the child and there have to be strong reasons for a court to refuse contact.