Overview of our Children Law Services
Our guiding principle is that whatever else may be at stake, the interests of your children must come first, and we pride ourselves in putting children at the forefront of our minds at all times.
It is all too easy for children to become unwilling pawns in a warring relationship or for their feelings to be suppressed or ignored. The days of “custody” and “access” battles should be numbered. We will do everything we can to reduce the impact of separation on your children and, where necessary, we can help you find additional help from organisations that specialise in supporting families through troubled times.
Our primary focus will always be to encourage you to reach a negotiated resolution, either through direct agreement, Mediation or the Collaborative process, our child law team has considerable experience in securing Orders within the Court process to include complex areas such as children’s relocation.
Orders which the Court can make
- Child Arrangements Order – Child arrangements orders replaced residence and contact orders and before that custody orders. The new order sets out who a child should live, spend time or otherwise have contact with. Such contact may take place as direct contact, overnight staying contact, supervised contact and indirect contact through letters or cards. In rare circumstances where the best interests of the child dictate, the Court can order that there is no contact.
- Prohibitive Steps Order – preventing a parent from doing something e.g. removing a child from the UK or preventing a change of name.
- Specific Issue Order – to deal with issues such as schooling, surname, or one off issues such as medical treatment, consent for holidays etc.
- Parental Responsibility – giving a person status to decide on matters such as school, consent for medical treatment.
- Financial Orders – maintenance, lump sum and property for the child’s benefit.
How do I resolve childcare arrangements?
Direct Agreement – we will attempt to help you reach agreement directly with your partner through our initial advice and perhaps a referral to someone such as a Family Consultant.
Mediation – Mediation provides a forum for couples to meet with a trained mediator to try to resolve issues in dispute between them. It is designed to encourage co-operation and prevent conflicts from intensifying. Mediators are neutral and are trained to facilitate discussions and offer information to the parties to ensure that everyone’s viewpoint is heard and dealt with fairly.
Collaborative Law – The process involves a series of joint meetings involving the couple and their collaboratively trained lawyers. An Agreement is signed confirming the mutual intention of reaching a fair and equitable settlement and, not to go to Court other than by agreement. The process is future focussed and ideally suited to discussing childcare arrangements.
Court Proceedings – there are occasions when parties cannot reach agreement on their own or through dispute resolution, and there is no alternative but to have childcare arrangements determined by the Court. At Court there will be an opportunity for both parents to discuss their differences with a Child Reporter (Cafcass Officer). The Cafcass Officer’s task is to establish the wishes of the child and to make recommendations as to what orders the Court should make having regard to what is in the best interest of the child.