If you are looking for help regarding arrangements for your grandchildren our specialist solicitors can help you.
In addition to office meetings, we offer remote meetings by telephone or video conferencing if required.
Relationship breakdowns can be an emotional time for most adults, but even more so for any children of the family. It is essential that any decisions being made by the parents take into consideration the needs of the children as a priority.
If parents are going through a separation it is important for there to be discussion and clear agreement regarding the children. If this cannot be done directly between you and the parents, we are able to assist in negotiations or referrals to an independent mediator to attempt to settle any disputes and reach an amicable agreement that is in the best interests of the children.
If you are a relative, grandparent or stepparent you may also be entitled to seek for arrangements to be put in place for you to see the children if no agreement can be reached with the parents and our expert legal team can assist you with this.
Child Arrangement Orders (Contact and Residence)
A child arrangement order (previously known as a contact order or a residence order) can outline where and with whom children live (residence) as well as when and how often the children can see a parent or relative (contact). Such an order can also outline shared living arrangements so that both parents or another adult has shared care for the children.
Prohibited Steps Order
If there is a major concern regarding the upbringing of a child, or about certain decisions which are being made by a parent which are opposed, an application can be made for a court to issue an order preventing a certain thing from happening.
Such issues would include travel abroad, relocating within the UK, changing a child's name or removal of a child from the care of a person.
Specific Issue Order
If parents or guardians cannot agree on major decisions regarding a child, such as health issues, education choices, religion an application will need to be pursued for a court to make a decision on the dispute.
Again such issues would include relocating abroad or within the UK, major medical treatment, change of a child's name and any other big decision that is likely to impact a child's upbringing.
Travel Abroad & Holidays
A further consideration that needs to be given by separated parents is holidays abroad. Legally, a parent travelling abroad with a child will need to obtain the explicit consent of all holders of parental responsibility, otherwise, a criminal offence for child abduction may be committed. Parents who have a child arrangement order for a child to live with them (or a residence order) are legally allowed to take a child out of the UK for up to one month without the need for consent.
Special Guardianship Orders
In some circumstances the parents of a child may not be able to care for the child or meet their needs. If this is the case, there may be scope for an application for a Special Guardianship Order to be made - such an order allows the court to appoint one or more people as a "special guardian" which provides a child with a secure placement with a grandparent, relative, or third party.
What We Can Do
Given the complexities and sensitive nature of children disputes, it is always essential to seek advice and representation from a qualified and accredited solicitor to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and legal options.
We have extensive experience in dealing with all areas of Children Law. We are members of Resolution and hold Law Society Family Law Advanced Panel Accreditation which demonstrates our knowledge, skill and expertise in this area of law.
Our Past Cases
Below are some children dispute cases we have conducted in the past:
Settling a lengthy and contested divorce and child arrangement order matter for a relative of a prominent British politician
Agreeing to a consent order for a child arrangement order further to a relocation of the mother
Return of a child to a London borough after a mother had fled with no notice to the father and thereafter for residency of the child to change in the father's favour
Obtaining an order for names of children to be changed back to original registration after mother had them formally changed without father's permission
What We Offer You
Out of Hours
Frequently Asked Questions
I am a grandparent. Do I have a right to see my grandchild?
I am having a disagreement with the child's parents about our grandchild. Do I need to apply to the court straight away?
Not at all. There are a lot of methods for dealing with matters outside of court and court proceedings really should be considered a last resort. Each case is different but generally if you and the child's parents may have tried to reach agreement but can’t, then you may need to consider options such as Mediation; Arbitration or Collaborative Law. Each option has its good points and its drawbacks but they are also all a lot quicker than court and may be a better solution for you and your family then court proceedings.
I have concerns about the parents. What can I do?
Good question. When considering these issues, the options vary depending on the concerns. If they are concerns about the parent’s parenting style or general disagreements about how your grandchild should be raised, then when applying to the court you should also complete a supplemental form which will allow you to outline the concerns that you have. This will be considered by the court and Cafcass when they receive the paperwork and allow them to consider how best to allocate and deal with your case. If however the matter is very urgent, such as a credible threat to remove a child from the UK, then you will need to make this clear in the court forms and seek an urgent hearing from the court.
I’ve heard of a Special Guardianship Order. What is that and how do I apply?
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is a court order that gives ‘enhanced’ parental responsibility to someone who is caring for a child who does not otherwise have parental responsibility. It will give you parental responsibility and allow you to make decisions for that child as necessary.
Will I see my grandchildren after the first hearing?
Sadly, not always.
All other methods haven’t been successful, how do I apply to court?
There are two main ways of doing this. One is to head to the Ministry of Justice website and find the C100 form. You can either print this off and complete it or you can fill it in online and then print it. Alternatively, you are also able to apply online and there is a shortened form for this. Please remember however that you whichever method you choose, you will need to satisfy the court that mediation has been attempted and has not been successful; that mediation is not appropriate in the case e.g. due to domestic abuse or that because the matter is urgent, there is insufficient time to attempt mediation.
Court forms can be confusing and overwhelming, and you need to ensure that they are completed with the child's best interests in mind. Therefore obtaining legal advice before you apply to court is always helpful.
We are not in agreement over arrangements for our grandchild, what can I do?
We will offer advice about how you can promote or propose arrangements so that your grandchild can continue to have a relationship with both of you.
If you have concerns about the care of your grandchild having arrangements, then we can discuss and give advice on the options such as supervised or supported arrangements.
Who are CAFCASS and why are they involved in my matter?
Children and Family Court Advisory Support Services (CAFCASS) are allocated to cases involving a children dispute that have reached the court.
Their role is to look after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings. Initially, this will involve undertaking background checks on the person applying to court, as well as the other parties and the children. They will also undertake a telephone interview with the parties before the first hearing in order to prepare a safeguarding letter for the court which will outline recommendations about the application.
After the initial hearing, the court can ask CAFCASS to undertake further detailed assessments to provide a final recommendation that the court can use when making a decision regarding the applicaiton.