Our experienced and specialist family solicitors can help you in resolving disputes as to the arrangements for your children following family breakdown.
We try to encourage agreement as soon as possible in order to avoid distress to the carers and to the children, although we also ensure that our client’s arguments and concerns are put forward and addressed.
The general principle behind the court’s approach is to investigate what is in the child’s best interests and how this can be met. Many carers can agree arrangements but others may benefit from attending mediation or negotiating through solicitors. In some cases, an application to the court may be appropriate.
Before making an application to court, carers are required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM). This is a meeting at which the parties will be provided with information about mediation, as well as ways in which the dispute can be resolved without the intervention of the court. MIAMs are carried out by authorised family mediators.
If there are issues that do fall to be determined by the court, there are a number of orders that can be made:
- Child Arrangements Order (these orders replace the old Residence and Contact Orders from 22 April 2014). They decide who the child is to live with and/or with whom the child will spend time with and when;
- Prohibited Steps Order (an order preventing something such as removing the child from the country);
- Specific Issue Order (such as what school the child should attend).
Another important area of law regarding children is that of ‘parental responsibility’. Parental responsibility is defined as the rights, duties and responsibilities associated with parenthood. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility as do fathers who were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth and fathers who are named on the child’s birth certificate (if the child was born after 1 December 2003). A father can otherwise obtain parental responsibility either by formal agreement with the mother or by order of the court.
Many of our solicitors are members of the Law Society Children Panel and are specialists in the law relating to children. We also have a number of solicitors who have gained Accreditation with Resolution.