Any legal issue involving your children can be confusing, worrying and highly stressful, but with the right legal advice and support, many of these problems can be swiftly resolved in a way that protects your family and your children’s wellbeing.
Bird & Co’s children law solicitors have been supporting individuals and families with a wide range of child law issues for decades. We provide a friendly, compassionate but highly practical approach, offering reassurance that we can find the right solution for your unique situation.
We will try to keep matters out of court where possible, focusing on non-confrontational dispute resolution to find an amicable solution to your legal issues. However, where we believe court action is the most appropriate option, we have the experience and skills to ensure your case is presented in the strongest way and that no angle is left unconsidered.
Our child law team have a strong focus on good communication, so we will ensure you are given the time to clearly explain your situation and what you need to happen. We will then discuss your options with you in plain English so you can make an informed decision about how to move forward.
No matter your situation or the difficulties you and your family are facing, we will take every possible action to safeguard your children and defend your rights as a parent.
Speak to one of our child law solicitors today by calling 01476 404 113 or use the contact form on the right and we will get back to you promptly.
Our children law services
Our children law solicitors, based in Grantham, Lincoln and Newark, work with individuals and families across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the rest of the UK on a wide range of child law issues.
When you get divorced or separate from a partner with whom you have children, deciding where they will live and what contact the non-resident parent will have with them is crucial. In most cases, our child law solicitors can help you make these arrangements voluntarily with your former partner, which is almost always in your and your children’s best interests.
Where an agreement cannot be reaches voluntarily, or where there are issues such as domestic abuse that make a voluntarily agreement unsuitable, we can support you with court action to secure a Child Arrangement Order to resolve these issues.
Disputes over children
If you and your former partner have a dispute over your children, for example, if your partner is failing to stick to the agreed child arrangements or the term of a Child Arrangement Order, we can help find a fast, effective solution.
Wherever appropriate, we will aim to resolve the issue through mediation or other non-confrontational methods, but where required we can take legal action to resolve the matter, such as enforcing the terms of a court order.
Prohibited Steps Orders
This is a court order that can be granted to either parent of a child preventing the other parent from taking certain actions, most commonly related to taking the child or children outside of the country. Prohibited Steps Orders are often used where a parent is concerned that their former partner may attempt to leave the country with their children without permission and potentially with no intention of returning.
We can help you apply for a Prohibited Steps Order if you have concerns about your partner’s intentions with regards to your children, helping to protect your children’s welfare and your right to a relationship with them.
Specific Issue Orders (SIO)
These are court orders that can be used to give directions for the purposes of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.
A SIO can be used to determine questions about a child's upbringing, e.g. whether the child should go to a state school or be educated privately, or in relation to medical treatment including immunisation.
Parental responsibility is all rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. This means you have the right to be involved in decisions over a child’s upbringing and wellbeing, such as where they go to school and what medical treatment they have.
While a child’s birth mother will automatically have parental responsibility (save where the child has been adopted) whether the birth father or other carer of the child has parental responsibility will depend on the circumstances.
We can help you establish whether you have parental responsibility or apply for parental responsibility, either with the agreement of those who already have it, or via a Parental Responsibility Order from a court. This ensures your rights as a parent will be recognised.
If Social Services have taken your children into care or have suggested this may be a possibility, it is essential to get specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our care proceedings solicitors have extensive experience in this often complicated and sensitive area of child law and can provide clear, practical advice to help resolve the situation as quickly as possible and give you the best chance of keeping your family together.
Fixed fee child law solicitors
Some of our child law services can be offered on a fixed fee basis while other may be provided on the basis of an agreed hourly rate. This way, you will have complete transparency over the costs involved.
Please contact us for a quote for any legal matter relating to children law.
Common questions about child law
Who has Parental Responsibility for a child?
Unless a child has been given up for adoption, the birth mother will always automatically have parental responsibility.
A child’s biological father will have parental responsibility if he was married to the birth mother when the child was born. If he was not married to the mother, but was named on the birth certificate, he will also have parental responsibility (for children born after 1st December 2003 in England and Wales).
Any man who was married to the child’s mother at the time the child was born will normally have parental responsibility, even if he is not the child’s biological father.
Parental responsibility will be automatically granted to a father (or anyone else) who does not have it if they are granted a Child Arrangements Order specifying that the child or children should live with them.
A step-parent will have parental responsibility only if a parental responsibility agreement has been made with those who already have parental responsibility or if a Parental Responsibility Order has been granted.
When a child is formally adopted (i.e. an Adoption Order is made), parental responsibility will be removed form anyone who previously held it, including the birth mother. The adoptive parents will then have sole parental responsibility.
Anyone acting as the primary carer of a child can also be granted parental responsibility via a Special Guardianship Order. This does not take away parental responsibility from anyone who already holds it, however, the person granted the Special Guardianship Order will only be required to consult anyone else with parental responsibility under exceptional circumstances, such as giving the child up for adoption or granting parental responsibility to someone else.
When can your children be taken into care?
Your local council may start care proceedings if they are concerned your child may be suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. This will often be because a concern has been raised by a third party, such as a doctor or teacher.
While the reasons a child can be taken into care vary, in general the principle is that child is not considered to be receiving the sort of care that a parent would be expected to provide.
How long do care proceedings take?
It can take up to 26 weeks for a court to make a decision about whether a child should be taken into care. In some more complicated cases, it can take even longer. During this period, social workers and other professionals will investigate the child’s situation and what can be done to keep them safe.
It is essential that you use this time to build your own case, with the help of specialist child law solicitors, so you have the best chance of keeping your family together.
How Interim Care Orders work
At the outset of care proceedings, the council can request that the child be temporarily placed into care using an Interim Care Order (ICO). An ICO may be used where social services have reason to believe your child has been seriously harmed or is likely to be seriously harmed if they stay in your care.
When an ICO is granted, social services will then share parental responsibility with you. This means they will have the power to decide where your child will live, whether you agree or not.
A court can also make an ‘exclusion requirement’ alongside an ICO to force someone to leave a child’s home where they believe that person is a danger to the child.
Social services are required to discuss the care plan for your child with you and your child (if possible). If you object to the care plan and feel someone in your family could look after your child while awaiting a final hearing to decide your child’s future, you should inform social services, your solicitor and the court so this can be taken into consideration.
An ICO can last until the cessation of proceedings or until a further order is made.
How long do Care Orders last?
A full Care Order is not given for a set period, so will normally only end under one of the following conditions:
- The child turns 18.
- The court discharges the order.
- The court makes a Child Arrangements Order “Living With” or Special Guardianship Order
- The court makes a Supervision Order
- The court makes an Adoption Order
Our expertise in children law
Bird & Co’s family law team has decades of experience in all areas of the law relating to children, meaning that whatever issue you are facing, we have likely dealt with it before on numerous occasions and can offer tried and tested legal solutions.
Our specialist child law solicitors know how sensitive these types of legal issues can be, so will listen carefully and compassionately to your situation, then explain your options to you in plain English. We can also put you in contact with other key organisation where relevant to ensure your and your children’s wellbeing is protected.
Our family law team includes leading specialist child law solicitor Estelle Conron, an accredited specialist with the Law Society’s Children Panel. Estelle has more than 20 years experience as a solicitor, including particular expertise in care proceedings involving Social Services.
Bird & Co has achieved the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation for our excellent legal and professional standards and we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Contact our child law solicitors today
Speak to one of our children law solicitors in Lincoln, Grantham or Newark today by calling 01476 404 113 or use the contact form at the top of the page to ask a question.
We are also very pleased to offer both private family law and publicly funded (legal aid) services from all of our offices, as well as from Grantham and Stamford Citizens Advice Bureau on alternate Wednesdays.