"Professional service accompanied by a sensitive, individual approach, anything I didn't understand was explained in a non-patronizing way." ---"Thank you for your fantastic expertise and professionalism. Not only have you seen me through a really tough period in my life and made sure I got the best out of the situation, but you have been most empathetic of my individual needs and anxieties. I have made it through the rollercoaster ride and come out smiling and stronger than ever, thanks to your support and hard work. Many many thanks!"--- "We very much appreciate all your help in guiding us through this application and for your sensitive and thorough handling of the matter"--- " Matthew Sterling is a credit to the company. At all times he made me feel at ease and listened carefully and most of all gave me the best advice"--- "Many thanks for your help in achieving this divorce. It feels great that this is all over and done with....once again, many thanks"--- " Matthew was very helpful and informative throughout." --- “I do appreciate all your efforts in seeking the best outcome for myself. You have a lovely calm, thorough manner which is very reassuring.”--- "On our initial appointment Matthew was very thorough in noting all my comments."

Our family lawyers provide advice, assistance and representation at court for parents, grandparents and other family members when the arrangements for children are disputed. These are important issues that need to be handled with sensitivity and careful consideration and we will offer objective advice when you need it the most on all issues.

Arrangements for children

The law relating to children is primarily governed by the Children Act 1989. The aim of the Act is to encourage cooperation between parents in respect of the children's needs and welfare and the basic principle is that the children should have a continuing relationship with both parents regardless of whether they live together, unless they are likely to suffer harm.

New Child Arrangement Orders (previously Residence & Contact)

An order regulating arrangements relating to:

  • who a child is to live with, spend time, or otherwise have contact with,
  • when a child is to live, spend time, or otherwise have contact with any person.

Child Arrangement Orders were previously called Residence Orders and Contact Orders, relating to child custody issues and access arrangements.

Prohibited Steps and Specific Issue Orders

A Prohibited Steps Order is an order preventing a parent from doing a specific action concerned with parental responsibility for the child, without the consent of the court e.g. changing a child’s name. A Specific Issue Order is an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen or which may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child e.g. which school should a child attend.

Parental Responsibility

This encompasses all the rights and duties a parent has with regards to a child and includes the ability to make decisions such as where a child should go to school, what form of religious upbringing a child should have and what medical treatment a child should receive. An unmarried father will automatically have parental responsibility if he is named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1st Dec 2003. Otherwise he can obtain parental responsibility by entering into an agreement in the form prescribed by the regulations or by making an application to the Court.

Changing a child’s name

You can change your child’s name by signing a change of name deed provided you have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility.

Special Guardianship and Adoption

A special guardianship order is similar to a child arrangements order that states the person or persons with whom a child lives. However, a special guardianship order gives the special guardian or guardians the ability to exercise their parental responsibility over and above anyone else with parental responsibility, for example the child’s parents.

Child Protection issues and Local Authority involvement

Children’s Services may become involved with a family if they have concerns about the safety of a child. Parents are automatically entitled to legal aid in these circumstances which unfortunately we cannot assist with. However, it is common for other family members to be involved, if for example a child goes to live with a grandparent or aunt/uncle. We can provide advice and representation in these circumstances.

Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is money paid to the parent that the children spend most of the time with, by the other parent. The amount of child maintenance to be paid is based upon the income of the person paying it, the number of children and the amount of time they spend with each parent. You can agree with your ex-partner how much child maintenance should be paid or you can involve the Child Maintenance Service. You can access an online child maintenance calculator by clicking the following link www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator.

Grandparent’s rights

Following a breakdown in a relationship, the wider family can also be affected. It is generally considered that it is in a child’s interest to have a relationship with their grandparents. A grandparent can apply to the court for a child arrangements order, just as a parent can, provided they obtain the court’s permission.

We offer fixed fees for court hearings about these child-related disputes.

For FREE, no obligation initial advice please give Matthew Sterling a call on 01539 720049, or fill in the contact form. We will review your circumstances and help determine the appropriate course of action to swiftly settle any disputes about children with the best possible outcome.


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To arrange a free no obligation initial consultation please call Matthew Sterling on 01539 720049 or complete the form below.

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