A female family law solicitor

Children and Child Arrangements

Where children are involved in a dispute, we understand they are your priority. Emotions can often run high but our Family Law team specialises in all matters to help bring about a resolution to your situation.

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Our experience

Our lawyers have significant experience in complex and ground-breaking issues. They are approachable and understanding, but also legal experts in their fields.

We can assist with arrangements for children at all levels, from helping formalise agreements negotiated directly between parties, to contested court disputes.

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Types of agreements around children

These agreements record the intention of parents and carers in respect of their children. Sometimes these arrangements are agreed after parties have attended mediation or solicitors’ negotiations. These agreements are not legally binding but can helpfully set boundaries.

Where it is not possible to agree the arrangements for a child, section 8 of the Children Act 1989 sets out the types of orders that a judge can make where it is in the best interest of a child to do so. These orders include:

  1. A child arrangements order: an order regulating arrangements relating to with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact – sometimes referred to as child custody or residence orders – and when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person – also referred to as access or contact orders
  2. A prohibited steps order: an order that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting their parental responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court
  3. A specific issue order: an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which arises regarding the child’s upbringing, such as where a child may go to school.

Parental responsibility is the legal term that describes all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities that, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to their child and property. For example, if you have parental responsibility for a child you can determine where they go to school, and whether they should have medical treatment.

Parental responsibility can be acquired at birth in some instances but there are times when it may need to be retrospectively obtained. We can assist with a parental responsibility agreement, or an application to court for a parental responsibility order.

Where parentage is an issue, an application under the Family Law Act 1996 for a Declaration of Parentage can be made. We have experience in representing parents on both sides of these applications and understand the sensitivity and significance of handling them with the utmost care and efficiency.

Legislation limits the ability to move a child internationally, and specialist applications will need to be made where this is proposed and opposed by the other parent or carer. We regularly represent parents in both internal and international relocation, with a number of notable, successful outcomes

Grandparents do not automatically have a legal right to see their grandchildren. We can assist you in finding ways to resolve these issues, such as mediation and out-of-court dispute resolution. If necessary, we can apply to court on your behalf to obtain the relevant permission to make an application, known as “leave to apply” for a child arrangement order, and can then assist you with the application itself. The welfare of the child will always be the primary concern of the court when determining such issues.

An SGO gives non-parents a more permanent legal status than they would have if they were named in other orders, such as a child arrangements order, as a person with whom the child is to live, but, it does not extinguish the legal relationship between the child and their birth parents as an adoption order would do. SGOs confer parental responsibility on the person who is granted one. An SGO may be suitable for a relative, such as a grandparent, who is caring for a child but the child’s parent(s) still remain part of their life and have parental responsibility.

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Thank you so very much for all your help. It’d been a tough year, but you have both been fab. I really appreciate all you have done for me.

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