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Children law - child arrangements orders & disputes

Stephensons has one of the largest teams of experienced children law and care solicitors in the UK. Our solicitors are accredited by the Law Society and Resolution as specialising in providing advice and representation in disputes concerning children as well as having many years of experience in this area of work. Speak to our children law experts on 01616 966 229.

We are highly rated in both of the leading legal directories, namely The Legal 500 and Chambers UK.

We provide advice and representation to all members of the family on a full range of issues relating to children. Disputes concerning children can present parents, family members and courts with some of the most challenging decisions of all. The Children Act 1989 is the main legislation which provides the law. Our experienced team of solicitors can help anyone who finds themselves in conflict about children. In situations where there are serious concerns about child’s immediate safety and welfare, we are able to act urgently to provide them with protection through court orders.

Our experience

Our children lawyers also deal with some of the most challenging cases involving social services intervention to removal of children; cases including allegations of brain injury, shaken baby syndrome, sexual abuse, Munchausen’s syndrome, fabricated illness, the murder of the parent by another, allegations that a parent is involved in terrorism (including ISIS) or that a parent is involved in organised crime or criminal gangs.

Areas of specialism

  • Child Arrangements Order - who a child lives with and how much time they spend with the other parent including the type of contact
  • Preventing a parent from doing something - prohibited steps order
  • Requiring someone to do something - specific issue order
  • Legal rights and restricting those rights - parental responsibility
  • Children’s name - change of name
  • Children moving abroad or to another area of the country - international or national relocation
  • Child care proceedings
  • Social services intervention

Children law FAQs

Do I need a solicitor?

It is always best if the parents can agree between themselves. However, a good solicitor will be able to give you impartial advice about where a child should live, visiting arrangements and communication between parents. One of our specialists will be able to tell you where you stand and help you to work out your options. We also have a network of contacts including mediators, counsellors and other health experts who can help you and your children.

Can I avoid going to court?

Yes. Courts work on a principle of non-intervention and only get directly involved where there are clear child protection issues where the parents are unable to agree on any important aspect of their child's upbringing. Our approach is to try to reach an agreement with the minimum of fuss. We regard court proceedings as the last option.

Will it get nasty?

We have a number of members of the specialist Solicitors Regulation Authority's Children Panel Accreditation Scheme. Several of our solicitors are also accredited resolution members. Where necessary we take a robust approach to our client cases. However, we believe in and practice a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law, we find that a creative and constructive approach produces excellent results for our clients.

What can the court do?

The courts paramount concern is the welfare of the child. The court can decide who a child lives with and how others are allowed to have contact with the child. The court can make orders prohibiting certain actions in relation to a child and the court can make an order dealing with a specific issue, relating, for example, to a child's health or education.

What if I can't afford legal fees?

In certain cases relating to children, for example, where there is social services intervention, parents are entitled to free legal aid. In order cases where you are struggling to afford your legal fees we have good connections with financial institutions and independent financial advisers who may be able to assist with funding arrangements.

When is legal aid available in children disputes?

Legal aid is still available, if you are eligible where you have evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse. There is a very specific list of what counts as domestic abuse or child abuse on the government website: What counts as evidence

How to get evidence

Legal aid is not available to help you obtain the evidence itself. If you think you may still be eligible for legal aid, you can contact a solicitor for advice. Alternatively, you can download and print sample letters for domestic abuse or sample letters for child abuse.

This helps you get the proof you need, depending on whether:

  • You have been a victim of domestic abuse or violence
  • Your children have been victims of domestic abuse or violence

You can give the letter to the person you are asking to provide evidence. They should be able to fill in the details for you.  You should then take this evidence to a solicitor who may be able to apply for legal aid for you to be advised or represented at court.

Legal aid is also available for cases involving international and domestic child abduction - including to secure an order to prevent the unlawful removal of a child from the UK or to secure the return of a child unlawfully removed within the jurisdiction.

Eligibility for legal aid in family proceedings

The Legal Aid Agency will take into account your eligibility for funding based on your means and the strength of your case. You can check your eligibility for legal aid in terms of your means by using the eligibility calculator.

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