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Children and Childcare Arrangements Solicitors in London

It is only normal for separation, divorce or the breakdown of any relationship to cause distress for any children involved.  At OTS Solicitors, our family law team have years of experience helping parents work out the best arrangements for their children.  We help parents come together to reach an agreement that will withstand changing circumstances (such as one parent meeting a new partner), and the vicissitudes of everyday life.

To speak to our top family law solicitors based in London, please contact us on 0203 959 9123, or contact us through our online enquiry form.

For more on how our Family team can help you, visit our dedicated Family Law site.

At OTS Solicitors, our family law team possess a wealth of experience advising and representing clients in disputes over childcare arrangements.  We provide caring, practical advice in a friendly, sensitive manner.  Our primary aim is to look after your best interests and those of your children.

Our head of Childcare Department is Behzad Sharmin. She works very closely with Resolution, an organization whose members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems.

Our team of child care Solicitors will advise you on any of the following child care Arrangement matters, but not limited to:

  • Contact rights for fathers
  • Contact rights for mothers
  • Taking child away/abroad without permission
  • Reasons to stop father/mother seeing child
  • Child arrangement order not working
  • Parenting plan
  • Parenting agreement
  • Parental responsibility
  • Parental responsibility order
  • Stop parent taking the child abroad
  • Specific issue order
  • Prohibited steps order
  • Change of surname
  • How to change a child's surname
  • Cafcass report
  • Cafcass
  • S7 report
  • Penal notice
  • Step-parents’ rights
  • Children Act matter
  • S8 order
  • Child residence order
  • Live with order
  • Spend time with order
  • Child relocation
  • Right to see child
  • Enforcement of child arrangements order
  • Enforcing child contact order
  • Special guardianship order
  • Welfare checklist
  • Not paying child maintenance
  • MIAM
  • Children mediation meeting
  • FHDRA
  • Fact finding hearing
  • Child abduction
  • Shared care order
  • Child access
  • Ex-partner denies access
  • Mother/Father denies access
  • Child custody forms
  • Child legal problems
  • Child legal advice
  • How can I stop contact
  • Taking child on holiday
  • Parent refusing to give child’s passport
  • Do I have to go to mediation

The Law Around Arrangements for Children After a divorce

When the court is considering any matters concerning the upbringing of a child, the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration.

When filing for divorce, a Statement of Arrangements must also be submitted to the court. This outlines the care arrangements you and your partner have agreed to for your children.  Knowing that amicably agreed childcare arrangements are more likely to stick and thus provide stability for the children, the judiciary will only get involved in sorting out child arrangements as a last resort.

Our experienced family law team can assist you to work out a childcare agreement with your partner.  We have a wealth of experience in this area of family law, and a high success rate of negotiating arrangements amicably and quickly.

Disputes Surrounding child care Arrangements

If you cannot agree with your estranged spouse on arrangements for your children, you will come under the Child Arrangements Programme.  This programme, introduced in 2014, removes the terms ‘custody’ and ‘access’ and replaces them with a ‘child arrangement order.'  It is designed to assist families to reach safe and child-focused agreements for their child, where possible outside the court setting.  If parents/families are unable to reach an agreement, and a court application is made, the Child Arrangement Programme encourages swift resolution of the dispute through the Court.

The Role of Mediation in a child care Arrangement Dispute

If you are unable to agree on living arrangements for your children, the court will ask you both to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to see if mediation proceedings will help you reach an agreement.

There are situations where couples are exempt from attending a MIAM, for example, if there is a history of violence and/or abuse in the relationship.

During mediation, it is important for the welfare of your children to work with the Mediator to decide:

  • where will the children primarily reside?
  • how, when and where the parent with whom the children will not primarily reside, will see them
  • how they will be supported financially
  • where they will spend school holidays
  • who will pay for school fees (if applicable)

Mediation has proven to be an effective process, allowing many couples to work out arrangements for their children between themselves, without the stress and expense of having to go to court.

Our experienced family law solicitors can support you through the MIAM and/or mediation process, or advise you as to whether an exemption to a MIAM applies to your situation.

Our Approach to Child Arrangement Matters

We fully believe that in cases of separation and divorce, the child’s welfare is paramount.  By dealing with cases sensitively and firmly, we have proven time and time again that our family law team can bring estranged couples together in an amicable way to work out the best arrangements for their children.

Our Family Solicitors strive to, where possible, negotiate arrangements that not only meet the needs of the children but also provide both parents with the means to adjust to their new situation, without undue disturbance.  Normally we succeed in achieving this through negotiation and/or mediation.  But sometimes parties cannot or should not (due to factors such as domestic violence) reach agreement through these methods, and litigation is inevitable.

If this is the case, we can represent you on an application for a Child Arrangements Order, which is made by the court.  A Child Arrangement Order may include restrictions on your child being removed from the UK if you are concerned that your partner may try and abduct them.   If there has been a history of violence and/or abuse in the relationship, the Child Arrangement Order may make provisions for any contact to be made under the supervision of a third party.

We will ensure both you and your children’s voices are heard by the judge and that proceedings are run in a calm, respectful manner.

Parents trust us to assist them with working out arrangements for the care and comfort of their children; a responsibility we take very seriously.  By approaching each case in a bespoke manner, we ensure every family who comes to us feels fully supported throughout the process.

International Adoption

At OTS Solicitors, our family law team have years of experience in inter-country adoption.  We help prospective parents navigate the often-complex laws around adopting a child from overseas.  We are an award-winning law firm and are highly-ranked in the Legal 500. Please check our Subsections below for further details on international adoption or to speak to our top family law solicitors based in London, please contact us on 0207 936 9960, or contact us through our online enquiry form.

When a relationship breaks down, advice from a top London children law solicitor can help with:

  • Agreeing an amicable parenting arrangement;

  • Advice during the family mediation process to understand your children law rights and options and to get the best out of mediation sessions;

  • If you cannot agree on a parenting plan, representation in court proceedings for custody, access, residence and contact orders (known as child arrangement orders). These orders set out how much time each parent should spend with the children, and sort out holiday access and contact;

  • Resolving particular areas of parenting that you cannot agree on, such as whether a child should be privately educated or should move abroad to live with one parent.

To speak to a member of the London based OTS Solicitors children law team about custody, access and child arrangements orders please call us on 0203 959 9123 for an initial discussion about how we can help you or contact us through our online enquiry form.

Behzad Sharmin has a lot of experience in helping parents resolve children law issues with pragmatic advice. Whatever your children law concern, Behzad and the children law team at OTS Solicitors will work with you to help resolve the parenting arrangements.

Do you have to go to court to get a child arrangements order?

Most separated parents assume that they need to go to court to get a custody, access or contact order. That is not the case.

An experienced children law solicitor can help parents reach an agreement over the parenting arrangements for their children. The agreement can be incorporated into a parenting plan.

If you cannot agree on which parent the children should live with, whether there is an equal shared care arrangement or about contact, then parents can see a mediator. A family mediator is impartial and helps parents resolve disputes. If you can reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will prepare a ‘memorandum of understanding’ to record the childcare arrangements.

A mediator cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, it is sensible to get legal advice from the best London children law solicitors on your children law court options so that you know your rights and feel comfortable resolving the childcare arrangements through mediation.

If parents cannot agree on the parenting arrangements for their children, either parent can apply for a child arrangements order. If court proceedings are necessary OTS Solicitors will help and support you through the court application for a child arrangements order.

What is a child arrangements order?

Most parents have heard about custody, access, residence and contact orders.  You still hear these phrases used a lot but if a parent makes an application to court the judge will make a child arrangements order. It is the same type of children law order as the old style custody and access orders.

A child arrangements order settles how a child’s time should be shared between separated parents. The children court order can specify the times of the contact visits and will say if the contact is staying or overnight contact.

How long does a child arrangements order last?

A child arrangements order will last, unless varied by a new court order, until the child is sixteen. In exceptional circumstances, the court can make an order for longer, for example if there are immigration considerations.

Should a child live with their mother or father?

In UK children law there is no legal presumption about whether a child should live with their mother or father after a parental separation or divorce. However, normally when the court is asked to make a child arrangements order, it will decide that children should spent time with both parents. There are always exceptions to this rule, for example, if it would not be in a child’s best interests to see a parent because of domestic violence concerns.

Will the court order equal shared parenting?

Although the court usually says children should spend time with both parents that does not necessarily mean a child should spend an equal amount of time with each parent.

Sometimes an equal shared care parenting arrangement does not meet a child’s needs or is impossible to achieve because of practical considerations such as the distance between homes, a parent’s work schedule or a child’s sporting activities. In other family scenarios, shared care of children can meet a child’s needs.

Can a parent stop contact?

Whether a parent can stop contact without first making a court application depends on whether the court has already made a child arrangements order setting out the contact arrangements for the parent who does not have primary care of the child.

If there is a child arrangements order in place for contact or access you should not stop contact without first getting the best London children law solicitors’ advice. You may be in breach of the child arrangements order if you stop contact without the other parent’s agreement or without first applying to vary or stop the existing child arrangements order.

There are no set rules on when the court will stop contact between a parent and a child. The court has to carefully consider the contact regime that meets the needs of the individual child and make a child arrangements order that is in that child’s best interests.

If there are concerns about a child’s physical safety or emotional welfare then contact can be supervised by relatives or take place at a contact centre. Contact can be maintained by Face-time.

Supporting you 

In addition to support and guidance from the children solicitors at OTS Solicitors we can also help you to consider other sources of support, such as:

  • If a child is struggling to come to terms with separation or divorce or with their parent forming a new relationship, some schools provide a counselling service;
  • Some employers provide counselling services as part of employee benefits. Other employers are sympathetic to employees taking time to adjust to a separation or will agree to flexible working so that a parent can work around contact arrangements;
  • Some parents and children find it helpful to speak to an individual or a family therapist.

The children law team at OTS Solicitors can put you in touch with support at times you may need it, for example, at the time of a separation or the introduction of a new partner.

For a more detailed discussion regarding arrangements for your children, or to book an appointment with a member of our family law team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123.

Your Questions and our answers about Children and Childcare Arrangements

You may be able to apply for an order such as a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order, that can address matters regarding children, including permission to take a child abroad. A Specific Issue Order is used to address a particular issue concerning a child’s upbringing when parents cannot agree, such as whether a child should travel abroad.

However, before applying for such an order, it’s advisable to attempt to reach an agreement with the other parent regarding the proposed travel plans. If an agreement cannot be reached and there are concerns or disagreements about taking the child abroad please contact us regarding the next steps on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

Unless you have a residence order or a child arrangements order in place, you will need the permission of your former wife to take your son abroad on holiday. If your former wife will not agree to your taking your son abroad on holiday, you can make an application to the court for an order giving you permission to take your son abroad on holiday.

We would recommend that you take advice now as it can take a little while to secure a court order to give you permission to take your son abroad on holiday. If your ex-wife will not agree and does not have any valid reason to object to your going on holiday then the court is likely to make an order giving you permission to take your son on holiday after assessing what orders are in your son’s best interests.

The family team at OTS Solicitors can represent you in court proceedings if your ex-wife continues to object to your taking your son abroad on holiday. Please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to discuss how we can help you.

The family team at OTS Solicitors

Thank you for your enquiry. We are sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing in seeing your children as much as you would like after your separation from your former partner.

If you cannot reach an agreement with your former partner over the amount of time the children should spend with you then you could apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This order is the new name for an access order or contact order. A child arrangements order will set out how much time the children should spend with you each week and can cover holiday contact as well.

When the court is deciding on an appropriate child arrangements order and contact the court will take into account the children’s wishes.

In relation to costs, the general rule is that a mother and father will pay their own legal costs of applying for a child arrangements order or responding to an application for a child arrangements order. It is very rare for in a children court case for a judge to order that one parent pays all or a share of the other parent’s legal fees. The conduct of one parent would need to be quite extreme for the court to consider making a costs order.

If you take legal advice, you may be able to agree an increase in contact with your children with your former partner through solicitor negotiations. That would avoid the need for a court application.

To discuss your situation and your children law options we would need to see you. We can give you expert children law advice and advise you on the best way forward and the cost of applying for a child arrangements order. Please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to discuss how we can help you.

Please note the answer provided above is for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. In order for OTS Solicitors to provide legal advice you would need to instruct OTS Solicitors family law team. If you would like to proceed with legal advice and consult with our family law solicitors please call us on 0203 959 9123.

Thank you for your enquiry.

Although there are no children court orders in place to stop you from taking the children abroad (a prohibited steps order) the law says that if you take the children to Pakistan without the agreement of your former wife or a UK court order giving you permission to take the children abroad on holiday you are “abducting” the children .

You should therefore not take the children out of the UK without first getting the agreement of your former wife in writing to any planned trip or a court order giving you permission to take the children out of the UK for the purposes of a holiday.

It may be the case that your former wife is objecting to the trip for the children to see your parents if the children spent the whole summer in Pakistan last year? If that is the case you could agree that the children spend longer with her during the week or during other shorter school holidays or that the children will go to Pakistan every year but for say three or four weeks or on alternate years for the full summer holiday.

If you cannot resolve matters with your former wife then you will need advice on starting children court proceedings for an order to let you take the children to Pakistan. When deciding whether to make an order the court will look at what it considers to be in the best interests of your children.

You do need family law advice on taking your children abroad on holiday. We would therefore ask you to call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to discuss how we can help you.

Please note the answer provided above is for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. In order for OTS Solicitors to provide legal advice you would need to instruct OTS Solicitors family law team. If you would like to proceed with legal advice and consult with our family law solicitors please call us on 0203 959 9123.

Thank you for your enquiry.

From the information provided, I understand that you have contact social services in regard to the children’s welfare whilst under their father’s care. Following an initial contact, the child services team will allocate a social worker to consider your report and provide a report with recommendations. If you feel that it is not safe for the children’s father to continue contact, you can apply to the Family Court for a formal Child Arrangements Order which sets out the level of contact the children have with their father. In addition, if you would like to limit his ability to attend the school or your home without prior notice, then you can also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

There are various options available to you in order to challenge the breach of the order. We would need further details with regards to the circumstances to advise you on options available. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

You may be able to request a non-molestation order lasting longer than six months depending on the evidence. We would need further information on the aspects of the custody situation to determine the scope of the order. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

If an individual fails to follow a Child Arrangement Order, they may be in contempt of court, which can result in serious consequences. To discuss your options going forward on how to enforce your CAO, call us on 02039 599123 or contact us here.

Thank you for getting in touch with us.
Your enquiry is being reviewed by our team and one of our solicitors will contact you shortly.
In the meantime, you can also call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here

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Your enquiry is being reviewed by our team and one of our solicitors will contact you shortly.

In the meantime, you can also call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.

Essentially no parent can stop the other from seeing their own children unless there are safety concerns, risk of harm to the child or if they are victims of domestic violence (DV) or may be subjected to such. Indeed any assertions from the alleging party will have to ensure there is a determination made by the court or authorities before any ties or contact can be terminated or suspended altogether. In the process of this investigation contact may sometimes be limited or suspended.

If a compromise or agreement cannot be reached between the parties for contact to take place, the parent prevented from seeing or spending time with the children will have to make an application to the court for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO). If discussions with your partner have failed or broken down, and you have exhausted all attempts and avenues to compromise, you may then apply to the court to issue proceedings for a CAO; for contact.

Unless there are exceptional exemptions like DV, the Application would have to attend mediation first to try and resolve issues before they can make an application to the court. The other party is encouraged to attend but if they choose not to, the Applicant may then issue proceedings. This is on the assumption that the Applicant parent concerned has parental responsibility which gives then a bundle of rights to exercise this privilege.

Please make an appointment or feel free to give us a call to chat first on 02039 599 123 and see how our expertise in children matters may assist you further. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for getting in touch with us.

Your enquiry is being reviewed by our team and one of our solicitors will contact you shortly.

In the meantime, you can also call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.

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