Children’s Law

A Child Arrangements Order
A ‘child arrangements order’ decides:

  • where your child lives
  • when your child spends time with each parent
  • when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example)

‘Child arrangements orders’ replace ‘residence orders’ and ‘contact orders’. Parents with these orders don’t need to re-apply.

Who Can Apply?
Any parent or guardian of the children can apply.
People who meet any of the following criteria also have the automatic right to apply for contact with the children.

  • any party to a marriage where the children were a part of their family
  • if they lived with the children for at least three years within the last five years, and their application to the Court is made within 3 months of the children no longer living with them
  • if there is a Child Arrangements Order in force, and they have the consent of the person with whom the children legally reside
  • if the children are in Local Authority care and they have the consent of the Local Authority
  • if they have the consent of each person who holds Parental Responsibility for the children

Anyone else who wants to seek a child arrangements order can only do so if they apply to the court for permission first.

A child arrangements order always considers the child’s best interests over everything else. The entire purpose of the order is to ensure that the child’s welfare is the first and foremost consideration. In making a decision, the court will consider a number of different factors:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child.
  • The child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs.
  • Whether the child has suffered any kind of abuse or neglect, or is in danger of doing so.
  • The ability of the child’s parents or guardians to meet the child’s needs.
  • The effects on the child of any changes in circumstances as a result of the order.
  • What changes the court has the power to make.

Mediation is an inexpensive way to find solutions outside the court system and it is particularly suitable to resolve issues about children. This is why it is compulsory for anyone who wants to make an application to the court for a child arrangements order to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) first (with some exceptions). Our support page has a wealth of resources for parents to help them to parent together successfully, nurturing their child.

How Long Does A Child Arrangement Order Last?
Until the child is 16, or 18 in exceptional circumstances and where stated in the court order. If you move back in with your ex-partner, the order will cease after a period of 6 months of your living together.

Our family lawyers always try to reduce animosity to avoid distress to you and negative effects to your child the negative effects as far as possible, caused by relationship breakdown. Unfortunately matters involving the living and contact arrangements for the children cannot always be agreed and assistance is required by the Courts.

We deal with a whole range of children’s issues:

Special Guardianship
Order of the court granting rights to a non-parent and authorising them to care for a child without severing legal ties with the birth family

Adoption
A court order is required to legally adopt a child. We can assist with domestic adoption cases, where couples may want to adopt a child in England and Wales. Alternatively, International adoption and adopting a child from another country. We can also assist with the immigration application.

Child Abduction
Reuniting parents with children who have been removed. We can also represent the parent who has removed the children.

Relocation
This is when one parent is planning to relocate a child within the courts’ jurisdiction of England and Wales (internal relocation) or abroad (international relocation). We can advise and represent you whether you are the parent wanting to relocate your family or the parent hoping to prevent the relocation.

Prohibited steps and parental rights and responsibilities
A person with parental responsibility over a child has the right to make independent
decisions about certain matters in relation to their child(ren). These include:

  • Schooling
  • Medical Treatment
  • Religion
  • Place of residence

Where two or more people share parental responsibility and one disagrees with the decision of the other, they can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order restricting the other person’s ability to exercise their parental responsibility rights. If granted, such an Order will result in the party being unable to independently remove the child from
the country or even the area where they currently live, or can prevent the child from being sent to a school which the applying person believes would not be in their best interests of attending.

Apply for a prohibited steps order
Any person who has parental responsibility can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. This includes a parent, guardian, or other person who has been granted a residence order in relation to the child(ren) in question.

This Order will also help you if your partner is thinking of taking the children to live abroad.

You can apply for a "Search and Find Order" to bring the children home. The court can order a police officer or court official to enter and search premises where a child might be found and use such force as is necessary to get them back.

How to apply for a prohibited steps order
An application is made to your local family Court using the relevant form and it may help the judge to understand your position if you were to include a brief ‘Position Statement’ setting out the reasons why you are seeking a Prohibited Steps Order and why you feel that such an Order would be in the child(ren)’s best interests. The brief statement is not essential for your application.
In addition to the above, there will also be a Court fee for the application.

Adding a parent’s name to the child’s birth certificate
We can assist in making an application to the court to add your name to your child’s birth certificate.

Change of name for the child
We can prepare change of name deed for your child.

We offer meeting at your convenience, or take instructions remotely by telephone or Skype. Many of our clients reside abroad, and therefore meetings are held through our video conference or Skype. We also accept international call via Vibre and WhatsApp.

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