Do you need advice relating to a specific area of Children Law?

Solicitors Specialising Children Matters

When a relationship breaks down, if arrangements for the children are mutually agreed upon between the parents, then no further action needs to be taken. If the parents cannot, however, agree on the arrangements, they can make an application to the Court to determine who the child(ren) lives with and how much time they spend with the other parent (known as a Child Arrangement Order). The law relating to children can also be used for specific purposes such as the permission to take a child to live in a different country, preventing the other parent from doing something such as relocating with the child (known as a Prohibited Steps Order) and deciding on a specific issue such as where the child should receive their education (known as a Specific Issue Order).

If you’re an unmarried father and your name is not on your child’s birth certificate, or the child was born before 1st December 2003, you do not automatically have the rights and obligations of a parent to make legal decisions for that child. This can, however, be changed in a number of ways, including if you have entered into a formal agreement with the child’s mother granting you those rights (known as Parental Responsibility) or by an Order of the Court granting you those rights. Disagreements in relation to children do not only apply to the parents but can apply to grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members who are being prevented from having a relationship with the child. We’re able to assist in all matters relating to children, including preparing any necessary applications to Court and representing you at any Court hearings.

We have a team of specialist Family and Matrimonial solicitors in Essex, and we have offices across the region and in London. If you require legal advice relating to children matters, please contact BTMK by calling 03300 585 222 or by sending an email to [email protected].

Why Instruct Our Specialist Family and Matrimonial Solicitors?

We provide a full range of child law advice and assistance to all families and individuals who may not be eligible for any form of public funding. We have a team that can act quickly and decisively in this challenging area of the law.

Our highly experienced family and matrimonial solicitors specialise in:

  • The drafting of Child Arrangements Orders, Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders.
  • The contentious (but important) decision of changing children’s surnames.
  • The drafting of parental responsibility agreements and advising parents on their legal rights and the exercising of those responsibilities.

We have specialists who can cover all of the areas above. You may not know which category your particular issue falls into, If so, please feel free to call us, and we’ll help to direct you to the right person. We can also provide services to clients who may be eligible for legal aid. If you believe you may qualify for legal aid, we’ll assess your financial circumstances and let you know quickly if we can assist you with a legal aid application.

children drawing on top of a table


What is a Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship Order is an order that appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s legal “special guardian”. This type of order is used when children are unable to live with their parents. The Special Guardianship is legally binding and gives the applicant(s) responsibility for day-to-day decisions relating to a child’s wellbeing and upbringing by granting the Applicant(s) Parental Responsibility for the child.

Local authorities are involved in the process and will prepare a Report setting out the suitability of the Applicant(s). There are a number of criteria which must be met before an Application can be made and it is therefore crucial that you obtain legal advice.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order can be used to prevent one parent from doing certain things without the other parent’s consent and deals with specific issues that have arisen. This type of legally binding order is commonly used to prevent a parent from taking their child on holiday abroad, relocating their school and to prevent a surname change without the other’s consent.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Having parental responsibility is legally recognised as your rights and responsibilities as a child’s parent. If you have parental responsibility you have the right to be kept informed and consulted with by the other parent about important decisions relating to your children, such as where they should go to school and what medical treatment they should receive. However, parental responsibility does not give either party any automatic rights relating to issues such as living arrangements and parental contact.

Do I have a legal right to see my children?

If your ex-partner refuses to allow contact and mediation has not resolved the issue, then an application can be made to the Court for a Child Arrangement Order to seek contact. The Court will take all circumstances into account with the child’s wellbeing being the paramount consideration.

What’s the difference between mediation and collaborative law? 

Mediation involves settling disputes around contact with your child (or any other dispute in relation to the child) with the help of a non-biased third-party mediator. A mediator will be trained in dispute resolution but, in most cases, won’t be a solicitor and therefore cannot provide you with any child law advice as their role is to be neutral. When you opt for collaborative law, however, you and the other parent will each have a child law solicitor with you to look after your (and your children’s) best interests during the sessions and to advise you accordingly.

What does shared care mean?

Shared care (also referred to as shared parenting and equal parenting) doesn’t mean that a child spends the same amount of time with each of their parents. It’s instead a principle where both parents agree to take an active role in a child’s daily life and upbringing. It’s a presumption in English Law that children should spend a significant amount of time with both their parents providing they’re always in a safe and comfortable environment.

Jaime-Lee Johns

Family & Matrimonial | BTMK Solicitors

Kylie Norris

Family & Matrimonial, Childcare | BTMK Solicitors

Yvonne Hume

Family & Matrimonial, Childcare | BTMK Solicitors

Lee Wilcockson

Family & Matrimonial | BTMK Solicitors

Charlotte Fedarb

Family & Matrimonial, Childcare | BTMK Solicitors

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