Family Law - Child Care Law
In Family Law, our main focus is to act on behalf of the children and/or parents. Examples of the cases we handle are:
- Care Proceedings
- Child Arrangement Orders
- Children’s Rights
- Disputes between parents
- Domestic Violence/Abuse Problems (Injunctions)
- Human Rights
- Parent’s Rights
- Prohibited Steps Orders
Are you experiencing problems with harassment?
It is possible for you to gain protection from your abuser by making an application for a civil injunction. The two types of injunction we deal with are:
A Non-Molestation Order
The main objective of these orders is to prevent the perpetrator (who must be ‘an associated person’)* from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you in any way.
An Occupation Order
These orders regulate who can reside in the family home and can also limit the perpetrator from entering the surrounding area. These orders are appropriate when you do not feel safe continuing to live with the perpetrator or if you want to return home after having left due to domestic violence/harassment and have the perpetrator excluded.
In order to apply for either of these orders, the perpetrator must be ‘an associated person’ which means:
You are or have been married to each other
You are cohabitants or former cohabitants
You live, or used to live, together in the same household
You are relatives
You are engaged, or used to be engaged, to one another
You have a child together
You are in an “intimate relationship of significant duration”
You are both involved in the same family proceedings (eg, divorce or contact)
Children Law or Child Care Law is very important to us which is why we are also specialists in Education Law.
Child Care Law FAQ’s
If you are seeking legal advice it is usually best to arrange an appointment to see a solicitor / legal adviser so we can discuss matters fully. We will advise you about your position, what steps you might take and your legal costs. We are able to offer home visit appointments in the Birmingham area for those who cannot make it to our office due disability.
Free appointments are only available to those who qualify for Legal Aid. We do not offer a free first appointment to new clients to the firm, but we do provide the first meeting (of up to one hour) at a discounted rate of £120 including VAT. Payment needs to be made before the appointment.
Parental Responsibility means 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.
When a child is born, the mother automatically has parental responsibility. If the parents are married, both parents automatically have parental responsibility. If a child is born to unmarried parents and the birth is registered after 1st December 2003 with both parents’ details, this also gives the father parental responsibility. Otherwise parental responsibility can be obtained by way of a parental responsibility agreement entered into amicably by both parents or a parental responsibility order made by the court.
Formerly known as “access”, contact refers to any communication or meeting between a child and his / her family. This can include contact by letter, phone (“indirect contact”) as well as actual visits (“direct contact”). The family court’s view of contact is that it is the right of a child and is usually in the best interests of a child.
A contact order is an order requiring the person with whom a child resides, or is to reside with, to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order, or for that person and the child otherwise to have contact with each other.
A Child Arrangement Order (formerly known as Residence and Contact Orders) specifies the person with whom a child will live.
When the court makes a Child Arrangement Order in favour of someone who is not the parent or guardian of the child concerned, that person will have parental responsibility for the child while the Child Arrangement Order remains in force.
It is important to obtain legal advice at an early stage so we would recommend that you come in to see one of our childcare solicitors.
Solutions may arise from mediation or a collaborative approach. Alternatively, a strongly worded letter may be sufficient to get the situation resolved. In certain circumstances it is appropriate to bring court proceedings. We regularly make applications for residence, contact, specific issue and prohibited steps orders on behalf of parents.
If all direct contact has stopped, then you should consider maintaining indirect contact until matters are resolved. We would recommend cards, letters and social media. If you have parental responsibility, you are entitled to school reports and medical records about your child so you could find out how s/he is doing by contacting the school/ doctor.
Our legal advisers will outline the various options and the costs involved.
It is important that children are not asked to choose between their parents and they should be safeguarded from exposure to conflict.
However, older children often want a say in the arrangements being made on their behalf. This can either be achieved by parents listening carefully to their children and adapting the arrangements, the children being involved in the mediation process or within the court process. If the Court has to decide what is best for your children, then their wishes and feelings are relevant, dependent upon their age and level of understanding. If necessary, a court can ask a special adviser from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to ascertain the children’s wishes.
Our specialist childcare team will be able to advise you on the best way of dealing with your children’s wishes and feelings.
If you have any concerns about the physical or emotional welfare of your child, contact Children’s Services as soon as possible. If you believe the child’s welfare needs would be best met by you, you should then seek legal advice with a view to making an application to the court for a relevant order.
If Children’s Services wish to speak to you about your child, you should co-operate fully with them. If Children’s Services have received a referral or are concerned about a child’s welfare, they have a duty to investigate the concern.
If the investigation raises no concerns for Children’s Services, that will usually be the end of the matter. Should Children’s Services have concerns about the welfare of your child / children, they may call a “case conference” where you will be invited to attend a meeting with people involved with your family like a teacher, health visitor, midwife or the police to discuss the concerns. You can take someone with you to the meeting and this may be a legal adviser /solicitor.
A decision will be made at the case conference as to whether your child’s name is to be placed on the child protection register. If it is registered, a review conference (usually 3 – 6 months ahead) will be fixed.
Mediation involves the parties talking together with an independent and impartial mediator to try to resolve their differences. The mediator does not give advice nor do they impose decisions – their role is simply to facilitate the parties’ discussion.