Children Law Solicitors

Children are the innocent parties when parents separate and it is so important that their best interests are at the heart of any decisions made should this happen. It can be extremely difficult to view your individual situations in an objective and non-judgemental light, which is where enlisting the help of a trained child law solicitor can be invaluable.

Financial arrangements and custodial logistics in the aftermath of divorce or civil partnership dissolution will have to be decided upon as calmly and efficiently as possible, so the option to embark on a session of family mediation instead of going straight through the courts may well be beneficial where appropriate. Please note: in any cases involving domestic violence or abuse, mediation will not be considered.   

For immediate, expert child law advice in Maidstone and the surrounding area, please call us now on 01622 673081 or request a call back using our quick contact form.

Our team of experienced local child law solicitors in Maidstone can help with:

  • Your rights to see your child
  • Obtaining a parental responsibility order entitling you to be involved in decisions affecting their life
  • Your options when one parent proposes to live abroad
  • Child arrangements for unmarried couples
  • Protecting your children from domestic violence or abuse
  • Assessing your personal and financial circumstances to give you an idea of the types of order a court might make
  • Exploring options for a negotiated agreement
  • Applying for a Child Arrangements Order if a negotiated agreement is not possible
  • Enforcing the terms of a Child Arrangements Order which has been breached

Our child law specialists can also help grandparents who wish to secure the right to see their grandchildren and offer advice and support to families whose children have been taken into local authority care or put up for adoption.

Advising Families Throughout Maidstone, Kent and Beyond

We have offices in MaidstoneGravesendTonbridgeChatham and Tenterden where we can meet you to discuss your requirements.

We can also offer meetings by video conference for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad.  In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.

Why Choose Our Child Law Solicitors in Maidstone?

An Empathetic, Practical Approach to Child Law Services

Our child law solicitors will:

  • Listen to you and ask the right questions to understand your situation and concerns
  • Offer clear, expert advice so you know your rights and options
  • Guide you towards making the best choices for your children
  • Provide close, personal support during what can be a difficult time

A Highly Qualified Team of Child Law Experts

Our specialist team is led by Avril Croud, a dedicated family lawyer with over 30 years’ experience helping families find their way through parental disputes and other issues.

Our team of divorce solicitors and family law specialists also includes:

Deborah is a member of Resolution, a family law network dedicated to helping families find constructive out-of-court settlements to a wide range of problems.

Independently Recognised Expertise

Our family law solicitors have received the Law Society’s Family Law Accreditation and Children Law Accreditation, providing assurance of the high quality of our expertise and service.

Fixed Cost Initial Appointment / Legal Aid

We offer an  initial 30 minute appointment to discuss your requirements from £115 plus VAT. Legal aid may be available in certain cases and is normally always available for defending care proceedings and taking steps to protect against domestic violence or child abuse

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Law

How do you agree arrangements for children after divorce or separation?

During a separation with children, it is always a critical task to work out where your children will live, what contact they will have with each parent and other aspects of their upbringing. This is normally achieved through constructive negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, but in some cases, this may not be possible or appropriate.

What happens if we can’t reach an agreement on child arrangements?

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement on arrangements for children, then you may need to apply to a court for a Child Arrangements Order for issues such as where children will live and child contact.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is a type of court order that specifies how key aspects of a child’s upbringing should be handled. It will commonly state where the child will live and any contact arrangements for a non-resident parent. However, Child Arrangements Orders can also cover other matters, e.g. contact with extended family members, such as grandparents.

A Child Arrangements Order can be supplemented with other court orders where necessary. Specific Issue Orders can be used to resolve disputes over single issues, such as where a child will go to school or their religious upbringing. Prohibited Steps Orders can be used to prevent someone with parental responsibility from taking a specific action, such as taking a child abroad without permission.

If you need to apply for any type of court order with respect to your child or children, our child law solicitors will be happy to advise and guide you every step of the way.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal principle that refers to the rights and responsibilities a parent has towards their children. This includes the responsibility to provide for a child financially and emotionally, as well as the right to be involved in decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as their education and medical care.

Exactly who has parental responsibility will depend on the circumstances. Birth mothers will always automatically have parental responsibility, unless this has been removed by a court order such as an adoption order. If parents are married when a child is born or they adopted the child together, then both will have parental responsibility, even if they later divorce.

For unmarried parents, a father will normally have parental responsibility if they jointly registered the birth with the mother. Otherwise, a second parent would usually need to secure a parental responsibility agreement with the birth mother or apply to a court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

What do I do if I wish to relocate with my child?

You do not need permission to relocate with your child within England and Wales if they normally live with you. However, the courts increasingly recognise that moving a long distance away from your child’s other parent can make it harder for them to maintain contact. This means that it is possible that someone else with parental responsibility could oppose the move in court if they believe the move would affect their relationship with their child or children.

If you wish to relocate abroad with your child or children following a separation, you will normally need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility in order to do so. If you cannot secure this permission, you may be able to apply to a court to be granted leave to take your children abroad permanently.

If a court is asked to decide on relocating with children, it will look at factors including:

  • The reason for the move
  • What benefits it offers
  • Any potential negative impact on your children
  • What accommodation will be available at your new location and whether this is suitable for your children’s needs
  • How your children’s educational and other needs would be met in the new location
  • What means would be available to continue contact with the other parent

It is strongly recommended to take expert legal advice from specialist children law solicitors at an early stage if you are considering moving with children or your children’s other parent is intending to do so.

Do I need permission to take my child on holiday?

You do not normally need permission to take your child on holiday within the UK, unless there is a court order in place saying that you cannot do so (known as a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’).

However, if you wish to take your child on holiday abroad, then you do usually need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for the child. The exception to this is if you have a Child Arrangements Order saying the child must live with you, in which case you can take them abroad for up to 28 days without the permission of anyone else with parental responsibility.

It is important to understand that taking a child abroad without permission could be classed as child abduction and this can be considered a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984. You should therefore be sure that you have the right to take your child abroad before doing so and, if permission is needed, it is sensible to get this in writing.

Can I change my child’s surname?

You will normally need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility before changing a child’s surname – this includes adding a second surname to make the child’s surname double-barrelled.

If you cannot secure agreement on changing a child’s surname, then you may be able to apply to a court for a Specific Issue Order to grant the change of name without the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for the child. Our specialist child solicitors can assist with this.

What is a Special Guardianship Order?

If a child cannot live with their birth parents and adoption is not a suitable option, then it may be possible for them to go and live with someone else who will act as their ‘Special Guardian’. This will often be a close relative, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

A Special Guardianship Order is a court order that is used to appoint one or more Special Guardians for a child. Once the Order has been made, the Special Guardians will be responsible for the child’s upbringing until the child turns 18 or the Order is ended (e.g. if the child is able to go back to living with their birth parents).

A key difference between Special Guardianship and adoption is that the link with the child’s birth parents is not legally severed by a Special Guardianship Order and they do not lose parental responsibility. However, the birth parents will not have any right to be involved in normal, day-to-day decisions about the child’s upbringing.

A Special Guardian is responsible for making these day-to-day decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as around their education and medical treatment. These decisions do not need to be discussed or agreed with the child’s birth parents. However, there are some decisions that will need to be agreed with anyone who has parental responsibility for the child, including changing the child’s surname, taking them abroad for more than three months and putting the child up for adoption.

I am a grandparent, do I have any rights?

Grandparents do not have any automatic legal rights with respect to their grandchildren in England or Wales. However, the courts do tend to recognise the important contribution that grandparents can make to a child’s life, so, if you cannot agree contact with your grandchildren amicably with their parents, it may be possible to do so through a court order.

The good news is that, in almost all cases, it is possible to reach an amicable agreement with your grandchildren’s parents to secure contact. Our experts can advise you on the best way to approach this, including non-confrontational dispute resolution methods, such as mediation.

If you do need to go down the route of court proceedings, then the process would involve applying for a Child Arrangements Order. However, it is important to know that grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, so you will first need to apply for permission to make such an application.

Our child law solicitors can advise and support on all aspects of grandparents’ rights, including guiding grandparents through every stage of court proceedings to give the best chance of securing a Child Arrangements Order.

Get in Touch with our Children Law Solicitors in Maidstone, Kent

Call us on 01622 673081 if you need our child law services. Alternatively complete our contact us form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

If you are in a particularly sensitive situation, please let us know when and via which method it is best to contact you.