Call +44(0)161 941 4000
Call +44(0)161 941 4000
Our experienced team of family law solicitors are experts in dealing with matters concerning children. We understand that what is right for one family, may not be right for another.
Our experienced solicitors can assist you in negotiating child arrangements best suited to your personal circumstances. Seeking legal advice at an early stage can minimise the risk of formal court proceedings which can cause delay and create more animosity.
Mediation is often the first step to consider before exploring Court Orders. This is where a professional mediator will meet with both parties and try to arrive at a mutual agreement without the need for further court proceedings.
However, court proceedings may be the only viable step to take where parties cannot come to an agreement. Our friendly and experienced family law solicitors can advise and represent you during this process.
We deal with people in all situations, including:
We understand that not seeing your child every day is one of the hardest things about separation.
As members of Resolution, the family team at Myerson are committed to following a non-confrontational approach to resolving family issues. The Code of Practice promotes a constructive approach to resolving family issues in a manner that considers the needs of the whole family and the best interest of the children.
Our child law solicitors can support and advise you as to your practical and legal options, tailored to your circumstances, as we know that every family is different.
Our experienced team can assist you in negotiating child arrangements best suited to your personal circumstances. However, court proceedings may be the only viable step to take and we can advise and represent you during this process.
If you would like to talk to us, in confidence, about how we can help, please call us on 0161 941 4000, or contact us online.
A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) decides the arrangements for with whom a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with.
If you are unable to reach an agreement about the arrangements for your child, then you may wish to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.
This type of order is made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
Child Arrangement Orders are sometimes required following a divorce or separation if parents are unable to agree on the arrangements for the children.
The court may make an order to confirm where a child lives or to confirm contact arrangements. The court may order the following:
The arrangements for children are not considered as part of an application for a divorce. A Child Arrangement Order is separate from an application for divorce.
It is important that you receive advice from a family law specialist to help you fill out necessary forms and respond to court letters. Your family solicitor can also advise on the likely outcome of your application for a Child Arrangement Order.
A Child Arrangement Order can be applied for without permission from the court if you fit certain criteria. To apply for a Child Arrangement Order you must fit one of the conditions below:
If you do not meet the conditions above but would still like to apply for a Child Arrangement Order, it is possible to obtain permission from the courts. For example, grandparents or aunties/uncles may need to obtain permission if they do not meet the requirements above.
A Specific Issue Order (SIO) is an order that determines a specific dispute that has arisen or may arise in connection with exercising parental responsibility for a child. This type of order is made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
It can be used to resolve issues about a child’s upbringing such as where a child should go to school, whether they should have a particular form of medical treatment and whether a child can relocate to a different area.
A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is a court order which prevents either parent from taking certain steps when exercising their parental responsibility for a child without the court’s permission. This type of order is usually made to prevent a person from taking steps such as changing a child's school, changing a child's name, and relocating a child to another part of the country or abroad.
In specific circumstances, it can be possible to make urgent applications to the court and without notice being provided to the other party.
Parents, step-parents with parental responsibility, special guardians and anyone who is named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom the child is to live may apply to the court for a Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order without requiring the court's permission to do so.
The welfare of the child is of paramount importance to the court. In exercising its discretion, the court will have regard to:
When anyone makes an application to the court in respect of children the Children & Family Court Advisory & Support Service (Cafcass) will be involved at an early stage. Cafcass work with children and young people in Family Court cases to make sure that the voices of children are heard, and decisions are made in their best interest. The court may appoint a Cafcass officer to prepare a full report making recommendations for the child concerned.
Parental responsibility is defined in law by the Children Act 1989 as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
People with parental responsibility are entitled to have a say in major decisions about a child such as:
A child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility. You will have parental responsibility if one of the following scenarios applies:
Separated parents can both still have parental responsibility even though they are no longer together. If you have parental responsibility, it might not mean you automatically have the right to spend time with your children.
Both parents should be involved and agree on important decisions about the child’s life. If there are any disputes, you can apply for a Specific Order Issue.
If you do not have Parental Responsibility, there are several ways that you can obtain it. These include:
If an agreement is not possible you can apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order. when considering whether to make the order the court will consider the father's commitment and attachment to the child and whether the reasons for applying are genuine.
Generally, the court will make a parental responsibility order unless the father poses a risk to the child or the mother.
A parent with a Child Arrangements Order confirming that a child lives with them can take the child out of the country for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent.
If one parent wishes to relocate with a child abroad and the parents cannot agree, a court application will be needed. This is known as a leave to remove or relocation application.
If you intend to make a relocation application, it is important that you think through all the practicalities of what life will be like in the new country. A parent who wishes to relocate with their child must put together detailed proposals and the court will want to know your plans including the following:
When the court considers an application to relocate, its primary concern is the welfare of the child and the court will consider a statutory checklist known as the welfare checklist.
The court may ask the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) to speak to the parents and possibly the children (depending on their ages) and make a recommendation to the court.
The court will consider how permission or refusal to relocate will affect the parents and the children. The court will consider the parent's plans and whether the wish to relocate and opposition is genuine.
The court will consider the interests of the parents but if it is not possible to accommodate everyone’s wishes, the best interest of the child will dictate the outcome.
If you wish to relocate within the UK and this is opposed by the other parent, you must apply for a Specific Issue Order for the court to determine whether you can relocate to another part of the country with the children.
The court must apply the same principles to internal relocation cases as to external relocation cases and the welfare of the child will be the courts paramount consideration.
If you disagree with a proposed move, you can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order.
If your former spouse or partner has made an application to relocate with your children to another country or a different part of the UK, you will need to explain to the court why you do not agree.
The court will want to hear about the following:
The family courts recognise the invaluable role that grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives. If you are having problems in seeing your grandchildren, this can be very distressing. Our experienced family solicitors can help you understand what legal rights you have and how you can take steps to see your grandchildren.
Whilst there is a presumption that a child should spend time with a parent, unless there are reasons to the contrary, this same presumption does not apply to grandparents. However, the courts recognise the importance of children having a relationship with extended family members.
As a first step, we would advise that you consider mediation to try and reach an agreement outside of court. Mediation is where an independent mediator will speak to you and other parties involved and try to come to a mutual arrangement where both parties are content.
Mediation is usually the best way to resolve these issues as court proceedings can be costly and quite stressful. Our family team will strive to support you throughout the process and advise you on the right decisions for you and your family.
Where mediation is unsuccessful, an application may be made to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order.
A Child Arrangements Order is an order that regulates the arrangements for a child.
Generally, grandparents do not have an automatic entitlement to apply for a Child Arrangements Order and they must obtain permission from the court before they can apply.
When considering an application for permission the court will consider the following:
If permission is granted you will be able to proceed with your application for a Child Arrangements Order
As for all court applications concerning children, the welfare of the child is of paramount importance.
If you wish to change your child’s name, you will need the written consent of all of those with parental responsibility. This will always include the child’s mother and in most cases, the child’s father.
Parents may wish to change their child’s name due to various reasons.
Provided that all the people who need to give consent have done so, a change of name deed can be prepared. Everyone with parental responsibility for the child needs to sign the deed and their signatures need to be witnessed.
Our family solicitors can assist you with the preparation of a change of name deed.
Our family solicitors can advise on how you can resolve the issue amicably via negotiation or mediation. Mediation involves an independent, trained professional mediator speaking to both parties and attempting to agree on a mutual arrangement.
If an agreement cannot be reached an application can be made for a specific issue order for the court to determine whether a child's name can be changed.
The Family court has no power to make child maintenance orders save in very limited circumstances.
To work out how much child maintenance is payable, you can use the online Child Maintenance Service calculator.
The court has limited powers to make orders for child maintenance. An order for child maintenance can only be made by the court when:
Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.
Jane is a Partner and Head of the Family Law Team
Nichola is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department
Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department
Helen is a Trainee Solicitor in our Family department.
Keep up-to-date with the latest legal news and our expert opinion.