One of the issues that OnlyDads deal with is this question of what you need to do when a child moves home, from one parent to another. I know from my own experience that at such times, dealing with the necessary administration is so often, the last thing on your mind. But as we read here not doing so can result in financial hardship and even more angst.
If a child moves home, from a mother to father, or to another carer, there are administrative things you need to think about sooner rather than later.
This is a very brief guide to the most important of those things:
School (or nursery) – assuming the child is remaining at the same school you need to let the school know the child’s new address and any change in arrangements of who will be dropping off and picking up from school. Consider too if there needs to be a change in wrap-around care because the new carer has different work patterns. Remember to think about payment of school fees / after school clubs / lunches.
If the child needs to change schools think about the best time of year to undertake that change and research local schools in your area and go and speak to them.
If the child is not yet school age think about nursery provision – from the age of three upwards some nursery provision is funded. The best place to look is your local authority’s web page as they should provide a list of local nurseries, their Ofsted reports, and other registered child care providers.
GP, dentist, optician etc – again, if the child remains with the same medical practitioners you need to tell them their new address and inform them of the change of carer. If they need to change find out about local provision through the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk
Consider too any specialists your child may be seeing and make sure you know when their appointments are. If in doubt your GP should know if they referred the child to the hospital or other specialist.
Friends, clubs etc – moving house can be a difficult time for any child so don’t forget that they may wish to continue to see the same friends and go to the same clubs. Find out what they do on a regular basis and decide if it is practical to continue.
Contact with other significant adults – you may have some reservations about the child seeing their other parent, or grandparents, but you need to think about ways in which that can continue safely. The Courts recognise that every child has a right to contact with their parents as long as it is safe and there are ways of supporting and supervising contact to ensure it benefits the child. If in doubt speak to a local solicitor.
Benefits – you need to contact the benefits agency and begin the process of changing who the child benefit is paid to and checking what other benefits you may be entitled to.
One difficulty is that the benefits agency may require proof of the change of home so how do you prove it? By doing the things listed here – any of the agencies listed will be able to confirm in writing when you informed them of the child’s move – which is why it is one reason it is so important to deal with these things quickly
Child maintenance – were you paying or receiving child maintenance? Perhaps this needs to change or you need to make a claim. You can contact the CSA or speak to a local solicitor.
Legal responsibilities – you need to consider the legal effect of this move. Do you have Parental Responsibility for the child because if you don’t there are restrictions as to what decisions you can contribute to automatically? The most important one is medical treatment as only an adult with Parental Responsibility can consent to or refuse medical treatment for a child. Parental Responsibility can be obtained through an agreement or a court order. If in doubt speak to a local solicitor.
If the previous carer had a court order such as a residence order, special guardianship order or care order, you need to take legal advice in relation to the move.
Who to contact for advice? Family lawyers can apply to join an organisation called Resolution and by doing so they commit to promoting a non-confrontational approach to family problems focussed on the best interests of the child. You can find a local member on their website: www.resolution.org.uk
Partner & Head of Family Department
Turpin & Miller LLP
Emily had kindly provided us with a good starting point on the essential administration – are there other things that our readers think we need to add? This article will become a standard resource document on our websites, so all additional suggestions will be gratefully received. Thank you!