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We specialise in family law and children law matters. We have a wealth of experience of acting for separated Parents and Grandparents in children cases.
Child Arrangement Orders
If you cannot agree arrangements for your child informally then there are a number of options available such as mediation, arbitration or the court route for a legally binding court order.
It may be you just can`t reach an agreement with your ex Partner, or another family member, and if that is the case then you may need a formal court order for the arrangements for your children under the Children Act 1989.
A legally binding Child Arrangement Order will set out who the child is to live with and what specific direct contact time there should be with both Parents.
There may also be other issues such as indirect contact, supervised or non-supervised contact, holiday time and contact on special occasions which should also be considered upon making an application for a child arrangements order.
If a child arrangements application has to be made via the Courts, and it is not urgent, then the first step is for the Applicant to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with an independent mediator.
This is a legal requirement before Court proceedings are embarked upon and the mediator shall inform the applicant what mediation entails and whether that is something they should consider.
Following the issue of a child arrangements application (via Form C100) the gate keeper Judge and Legal Adviser at the local Family Court centre issuing the application will decide what directions should be made.
CAFCASS are required to provide a safeguarding assessment to the Court and a Social Worker on behalf of CAFCASS shall speak with both the applicant and the respondent and any other person with Parental Responsibility to ascertain their respective positions, views and wishes about the case. They will discuss any possible parenting plan you may have with you and understand what the arrangements have been leading up to this point.
CAFCASS will report on any previous criminal convictions or whether any of the individuals are known to the Local Authority and/or Social Services. This happens prior to the First Hearing Dispute Resolution. (“FHDRA”).
If matters cannot be resolved at the FHDRA then a further hearing called a DRA (Dispute Resolution Hearing ) may be necessary or alternatively the case shall be listed for Final Hearing if no resolution or agreement can be reached by consent.
Statements are then filed in the weeks prior to the Final Hearing and the Court will determine the final outcome and the outcome is then out of the hands of the Parties.
In some more complex cases, Solicitors can be appointed to act on behalf of the child or children. This is rare but can happen and we have been involved in many cases where this has happened due to the complexity and wide range of matters we deal with.
We also have vast experience of enforcing child arrangements order that have been breached. You can also apply to the court to vary a child arrangements order which may now be outdated to your current circumstances. You should always get legal advice from an expert children law Solicitor before making any application to the Court.
We have dealt with a wide range of Child Arrangement cases throughout the County Court through to the High Court and our expert Solicitors can guide you whatever situation you are facing.
Our specialist team deal frequently with a wide variety of children matters ranging from prohibited steps orders to child arrangements orders to specific issue orders. All members of our team can provide you with legal advice no matter whether you have a complicated case or whether you just want to spend more time with your child / children.
Prohibited Steps Orders
A Prohibited Steps Order is an order made by the Court to restrict or limit the scope of a Parents Parental Responsibility over their child / children. Parental Responsibility simply means the decisions that each Parent makes upon behalf of their child each day, such as what School they go to, what Doctors or Dentist they go to, amongst many other decisions.
Obtaining a PSO is not a step to be taken lightly, but sometimes it is necessary to safeguard a child / children in certain circumstances whereby they are at some level of risk or their welfare is in question.
A Parent can apply for a prohibited steps order which could prevent a child from seeing certain persons or staying in a certain location. Such an order could also prevent the abduction or relocation of a child and often this situation may require an ex parte application to be made on an urgent basis, that means without notice to the other Parent.
Sometimes a prohibited steps order may relate to one of the Parents moving the child`s School or relocating them to another part of the Country. Such an application can often be referred to as internal relocation.
This sorts of cases can be very difficult and highly fact specific. Whilst the Court always views the case with a child focused lens, sometimes cases (particularly relocation cases) can be highly sensitive and very difficult to Judge either way.
We would always recommend seeking expert guidance in this field of the law and our expert Solicitors have vast experience throughout the County Court and even the High Court when dealing with prohibited steps orders and specific issue orders.
Specific Issue Orders
Sometimes parents cannot agree on a certain issue and an application needs to be made to the Family Court for the same to be determined. You can make an application for a specific issue order to the Court.
This can be because of where the child will go to School, a relocation of one of the Parents, certain medical treatment or something more minor such as who is to hold a passport or other documentation on behalf of the child.
Our specialist Family Law Solicitors are able to assist you wherever you may be located so please contact us for more information to see how we can assist.