Divorce and the law
Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage contract and leaves each party free to remarry. When divorce became more generally available after the passing of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, the courts acquired the right to make orders relating to the welfare of any children involved. A conflict may exist between the parents' rights and the children's welfare. Many custodial parents ask the school to change the surname of the child when the mother establishes a new household, but this should not be done merely at the request of the mother. Actual custody, or care and control, is granted under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Unlike custody, access is frequently disputed in court, with the non-custodial parent trying to gain more access. Maintenance is the periodic payments a court order may require the parent who no longer lives with the child to make towards the child's upkeep.