Children’s law solicitors

Our children’s law solicitors understand that after a separation or divorce couples with children often find it hard to come to suitable and agreeable arrangements for the care and financial needs of their children. We work very hard to ensure that our clients are fully informed as to the most cost effective and suitable route to resolution of the situation. We are aware that there’s often sensitive and personal matters that need to be taken into account and emotions are often running very high on the part of both parents.

Our team are here to work with you and either your ex-partner directly or through their solicitors to make your child arrangements official and securing your rights as a parent. There are a number of ways in which this can be done and we understand that it is not always possible to agree the way forward and court intervention may be required.

Get in touch

How can we help?

It is always the courts priority that the children’s needs and welfare are at the forefront of any outcome, this must be borne in mind when trying to deal with any situation involving children. It is often personally disappointing for one parent or the other and can be difficult for them to accept the outcome of the court. Children often becoming a bargaining tool and the courts are very keen to ensure this does not become the case, their concern relates solely to the children’s safety, financial needs, education and residency.

Parental responsibility

It is important to understand from the outset the starting position in law when it comes to parental responsibility. If there is a dispute relating to the care of children resulting from a separation or divorce then it is always important to take legal advice and our specialist solicitors are always on hand to assist. Call us on 0203 9252 301 to discuss your personal situation to see how we can assist.

The legal starting point in relation to parental responsibility is that where a couple is married both parties have parental responsibility for their children. However, in an unmarried couple unless there is a parental responsibility agreement in place the mother has automatic rights.

An unmarried father can obtain parental rights through either a parental responsibility agreement entered into with the mother of their child or if the child was born after December 2003 we can assist in obtaining an order from the court if they are named on the birth certificate.

Parental responsibility is not linked in any way to the custody or living arrangements of children and does not mean that a parent without day to day custody of the children has any say on how the children are looked after or their financial needs. Parental responsibility only deals with aspects such as making decisions about allowing the children to go abroad or their education and medical needs.

If you do not have automatic parental responsibility there are a number of ways in which you are able to obtain the same. These can include:

Adoption

Court Order

Parental Responsibility Agreement

The law always encourages both parents to consider the best interests of their children and work together to find a solution that puts their children’s needs first.

We can help you

Parental responsibility agreements

A parental responsibility agreement can be entered into at any time from the birth of a child whether the parents are living together as a couple, are co-parenting in separate households, or where parents are separated or divorced.

We can draft a parental responsibility agreement for you at a fixed cost of £249.00 plus VAT and a £215.00 Court Fee.

Included within this fixed fee we will:

Advise you on the law around parental responsibility and your personal circumstances

Negotiate with your partner any unresolved matters in order for the agreement to be reached. (up to 1 hr)

Complete the required application for the parental responsibility agreement.

Legal advice on how to execute the document

Filing the same with the court and anyone else involved including the other parent.

Additional negotiations may be required that are not covered within the fixed fee quoted above. Our hourly rate will be reduced to £185.00 plus VAT in these circumstances.

David Durkin-Finch

Senior partner

Jacqueline Tanner

Head of litigation

Agreement by consent (consent orders)

Often whilst it is possible to agree the majority of arrangements between each other there remain certain aspects that either cause tension between ex-partners or continue to be heavily contested by one or the other. We can work hard to understand the concerns of you and your ex to work with them or their legal advisers to come to an amicable solution and a formal agreement. Once this is done the appropriate consent order can be drafted and executed.

The agreement and consent order will deal with all aspects of the children’s care and financial needs including child maintenance payments where the paying parents earnings exceed the £2000 per week child maintenance service’s limit (formally the Child Support Agency/CSA) or if maintenance can be agreed there is the possibility of not involving the CMS and the agreement can be ratified by the court within the consent order.

The existence of a consent order does not always mean that matters run smoothly between parents and it could be necessary to revisit the same due to significant changes in circumstances of one party or the other for example financial circumstances change. Where there are disputes or changes in circumstances it is important to have the ability to revisit the consent order and seek an order of the court or an agreement with the other parent to vary the order.

Wherever possible we always try to work matters out amicably between parents as to do so only assists the smooth transition for not only the children but you as parents too.

Living arrangements

The living arrangements of children often take priority at the outset of any separation or divorce between two parents. Unfortunately however this is just one of the complex matters that will need resolving and the living arrangements of a child or children is often the part of a larger agreement or court order relating to all other aspects of the children’s needs.

We work with all of our clients to obtain the best outcome possible, within the law, regarding living and visiting rights of our clients.

For more information on how we can help with living arrangements as part of a wider agreement or court order please contact one of our specialist family solicitors on 0203 9252 301.

We can help you

Child custody

Our specialists know that when it comes to dealing with child custody issues it is sometimes not always possible to see an end to a problem. However we work efficiently and very hard to ensure that all matters are resolved as cost effectively and quickly as possible.

Where at all possible it is always best to try and negotiate a final agreement in relation to child custody and other matters so as to avoid the need to go to Court. However there are often circumstances where this is not possible.

Overall responsibility

One parent will be given overall responsibility of the children and they will live with that parent on a full time basis with contact being set on certain days or at certain times. When considering where the children live the courts will have to consider a number of situations including for example which parent has more time to allow them to spend quality time with them and look after the children. They will also take into account the living arrangements and the convenience for the children, for example distances from schooling or day care.

Child Arrangement Orders

Over a long period of time these orders have often changed names and have formerly been known as child contact and residency orders. Now called a child arrangement order they cover the same aspects as before just under a different name.

A child arrangement order sets out the following:

Where a child lives and with which parent

Contact with the non-resident parent including when and how they spend time with their children or are able to make contact with their children, for example regular telephone calls at set times

It is always the courts intention and starting point when making an order relating to a child’s living and welfare that both parents are involved where possible.

Specific Issue Orders & Prohibitive Steps Orders

A specific issues order is an order made by the court to deal with a certain circumstance that arises or cannot be resolved. These include things like taking a child or children abroad, changing their names etc. A specific issue order will deal with matters which one parent or the other must do. On the converse there is also an order called a prohibitive steps order which stops one parent from doing something.

The types of orders given in this category can relate to almost anything in relation to Parental Responsibility matters and if there is a specific concern you have in relation to your ex-partners actions then please contact us to discuss matters further on 0203 9252 301.

Some examples of Orders in these categories can be:

Matters relating to a child’s education both in general schooling and religion, however court’s will generally allow children to decide their own beliefs in relation to religion.

Whether a parent can or a child should change their name.

Where one parent wishes to take a child or children abroad.

Where the parent with residence wishes to move location outside of a reasonable distance for the other to continue contact.

David Durkin-Finch

Senior partner

Jacqueline Tanner

Head of litigation