Making arrangements for your children is often the hardest part of dealing with a divorce or separation. Advice and support from an expert will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you achieve the right result for your family.
Woolsey Morris & Kennedy’s child law team can provide you with the guidance you need to put new arrangements in place for you and your children. We will take the time to get to know you and to understand what is important to you.
We have extensive expertise in dealing with child and family law issues, to include where circumstances are complex or the separation has been particularly difficult.
We will designate you an experienced lawyer who will work on your case throughout your time with us so that they always know exactly what stage the process is at and will be able to keep you updated as to progress. It also means that you will have a single point of contact who will be available to answer any questions you have.
We understand how difficult a separation can be and we will do all we can to support you throughout. Our team are friendly and approachable and will work to make the process of putting child arrangements in place as easy as possible.
We are known for our excellent client care and we have a strong track record of success in obtaining the results that our clients want.
Our child law services
Our family law team are experts in all aspects of family and child law and our services include the following:
- Child arrangements agreements and child arrangements orders
- Prohibited steps orders
- Specific issue orders
- Parental responsibility orders
- Moving abroad with children
- Child care proceedings
- Grandparents’ rights
- Child law advice
Our approach is non-confrontational and we will work with you to try to resolve issues without recourse to the courts. Our family law team are strong negotiators and we have a good track record of putting robust agreements in place for our clients and their children.
If matters do go to court, you can be sure that we will put together a strong case on your behalf and provide you with expert representation. We understand how stressful legal proceedings relating to your children can be and will stay by your side throughout to support and advise you.
Child Law FAQs
Who gets custody of children in a divorce?
The legal position is that children should have a meaningful relationship with both parents unless there is a sound reason not to. The term ‘custody’ is not used anymore and the starting point for the courts is for children to have shared contact with both parents.
The reality is that one parent will usually be the primary caregiver and will have residence, with the child spending set times with the other parent, for example, at weekends.
What is a child arrangements order?
A child arrangements order sets out the agreed details of where a child will live, whom they will live with, how often they will see the other parent and how they will communicate with their parents when they are not together, for example, by telephone or email. It can also include restrictions, such as people with whom the child will not spend time.
Ideally, the details will be agreed amicably between the parents. Having the details put into a document to be sealed by the court means that they will be legally enforceable and this can also help avoid misunderstandings or disputes from arising in the future.
If you cannot agree, then the next step is generally to enter into mediation with a neutral third party who will work to help you reach a compromise.
What happens if we cannot agree on child arrangements?
If mediation fails, then the issue can be put before the court for a decision. The court will look at what it believes to be in the child’s best interests, taking into account:
- The child’s feelings on the subject, depending on their age
- The needs of the child and each parent’s capacity for meeting these needs
- Any risk of harm to the child
- The likely effects of the decision
- Any other relevant factors
The court will draw up a Child Arrangements Order which will be binding upon both parties.
What is parental responsibility?
Parental responsibility is the rights, duties and responsibilities that a parent has in respect of a child and their property. It is automatically given to a birth mother as well as a married father. An unmarried father will usually have parental responsibility if his name is on the birth certificate.
Same sex partners will usually have parental responsibility if they were married to the birth mother at the time of donor insemination or fertility treatment, or if they have adopted the child.
What rights does parental responsibility give?
The rights and responsibilities conferred by parental responsibility include the following:
- To care for the child and provide a home for them
- To decide where the child will live
- To ensure the child receives an education
- To consent to medical treatment
- To name the child
- To take the child out of the country
This means that where both parents have parental responsibility, there is a duty to consult with the other parent before undertaking the above actions, for example, before taking your child abroad, moving them to a different school or consenting to medical treatment.
How can I get parental responsibility?
If you are an unmarried father and the child’s mother consents to you having parental responsibility, it is easy to arrange this by filling in a form and applying to the court.
If she does not consent, then you will need to ask the court for an order, stating why you are applying and any plans you have for the children.
Can I take my children abroad without the other parent’s consent?
If the other parent has parental responsibility and there is no child arrangements order in place, then you cannot take your children abroad without the written consent of the other parent.
What is a specific issue order?
A specific issue order is an order made by the court in respect of a single question or issue relating to a child.
Examples of instances where a specific issue could be applied for include the following:
- Whether a child can have certain medical treatment
- Which school a child should go to
- Which religion, if any, a child should follow
- Whether a child can be taken overseas to live
- Whether a child’s name can be changed
- Whether someone can be stopped from seeing a child
Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a specific issue order as well as a child’s guardian. Other individuals involved in the child’s life can make an application for a specific issue order if the court gives consent.
What is a prohibited steps order?
A prohibited steps order prevents a parent from doing something in relation to the child or from making a specified decision on behalf of the child.
Examples of issues a prohibited steps order can cover include:
- Preventing a child’s name from being changed
- Preventing a parent from taking a child to live overseas or in a different part of the country
- Preventing a child from attending a particular school
- Stopping consent to certain medical treatments
Speak to our child law solicitors in Sidcup, the London Borough of Bexley, Kent
Our service includes:
- free initial 30 minute interview
- advice on residence - where a child should live;
- advice on contact - where, when and how a child should see the parent they are not living with and/or other family members;
- advice on removal of a child from a parent, grandparent or other carer;
- advice on failure to return a child to a resident parent, grandparent or other carer;
- advice child abduction and removing a child from our jurisdiction;
- advice on obtaining Parental Responsibility;
- advice on other difficulties relating to a child;
- advice on negotiation or mediation;
- advice on applications to the Court to resolve the matter;
- assisting through the court process.