Private Children matters

There are few things in life as important as our children and it is therefore not surprising that these types of family problems are often the most emotionally charged and heavily contested. Unfortunately, it is also well documented that protracted disputes involving children can be very damaging to their long-term development and wellbeing, which is why we will act quickly to resolve your matter. 

As one of Staffordshire’s leading children law solicitors we have an experienced and accredited member of the Law Society’s Child Panel ready to help you. This accreditation is only available to solicitors who have shown to the satisfaction of the Law Society, that they have and will maintain a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice in the area of children law. 

We are also consulted on issues regarding private law adoption and, although this is now uncommon, can advise you in this area.

Private Child Law Disputes

Private child law disputes are usually the result of a family breakdown when the parents disagree about who the child, or children, should live with and have contact with or otherwise spend time with. While many people are able to sort out the arrangements for their children without the involvement of family solicitors or the Courts, families are increasingly complicated and international, and parents are not always able to resolve disputes about these issues. 

Our expert children law solicitors can provide you with sound legal advice and practical guidance based on our many years of involvement in all types of children law matters. We will always try to negotiate a settlement that has your child’s best interests at heart thus avoiding the financial and emotional expense that comes with family court proceedings. Where this is not possible, and negotiations have failed, we will take your matter to Court and actively pursue the right court order for you and your child. The Court can make a range of orders to resolve disputes regarding child arrangements, parental responsibility, special guardianships, financial arrangements for children and surrogacy and adoption. 

The Best Interests of the Child

There is a presumption in law that wherever possible it is in the best interest of a child to be brought up with the active involvement of both parents and both sides of the family. There will however be some more complex situations where it is not in the child’s best interest and in these circumstances Staffordshire Family Law Solicitors will seek the best level of protection for you and your child. 

Child Arrangements Orders

The most common types of children law disputes are those relating to the arrangements for your child – where they should live and when they should spend time with the other parent or family.

These used to be called Residence Orders and Contact Orders although both terms have now been replaced by a single Child Arrangement Order. A Child Arrangement Order sets out how and where a child will share his or her time with both parents and other family members. 

Other orders available are used to allow or prohibit specific things that will affect your child, for example, like moving out of the area or country, changing a child’s surname and other matters affecting your child’s health, religious beliefs and education. Sometimes an order will give directions that contact is to be supervised by a third person, or that contact is to take place in a specific location. 

Child Arrangement Orders are not only made in respect of parents. They can also be used for arrangements between siblings and wider family members. 

Failure to comply with an order may result in the Court making other enforcement orders which can include an order for unpaid work.

Parental Responsibility Orders

Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. 

The birth mother of a child will always have parental responsibility unless it is extinguished by the making of an adoption order to another person. Where the child’s father and mother are married to each other at the time of the birth, they both have parental responsibility for the child. Where the child’s mother and father are not married to each other at the time of the birth the general rule is that the mother has sole parental responsibility for the child. 

An unmarried father will have parental responsibility for a child born after 1 December 2003 only if he is named on the birth certificate and Register. A father can obtain parental responsibility by asking the Court to make the relevant order.

Parental responsibility is a key issue for unmarried parents where the father is not named on the birth certificate. We can assist with a Parental Responsibility Agreement or application to Court and, in the case of a step parent, a Step Parental Responsibility Agreement.

Legal Aid Funding

Legal Aid funding may be available for any application to Court. This is subject to strict evidential requirements and means testing, however if you believe that you are a victim of domestic abuse or social services are involved with the child subject to the application, this may be available to assist with your costs. Our expert solicitors will let you know if your case qualifies and will always ensure that an application is made to the Legal Aid Agency in such cases.

If you need assistance, contact one of our solicitors at [email protected] or call 01785 336617 for expert legal advice.