Child Law Solicitors

The experts in our Family Law team have a wealth of experience when it comes to children law and are compassionate when dealing with children matters. We know that this is often a complicated time of your life and here at JCP our team who specialise in all aspects relating to children law will do all that we can to help limit the impact it has on you and your children.

When a marriage or a relationship breaks down, one of the key concerns will be what will happen to any children. On many occasions, a verbal agreement between you and your ex-partner may not run as smoothly as you had first hoped or anticipated. Children law matters can be both complex and emotional, with both parents trying to come to an arrangement with as little impact on their children's lives as possible. 

You may find yourself in a position where you are unsure of your legal position regarding children law, whether you are a parent, carer, grandparent or other family member.

At JCP we offer a fixed price initial advice meeting so that you can establish your rights and what action you can take to help resolve the situation. Contact a member of our dedicated family team for more information. Our team are situated across South Wales with offices in Cardiff, Swansea, Caerphilly, Cowbridge, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, Fishguard and St Davids.

 

  • Jill Bulteel
      • 02920 855261
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  • Angela Killa
      • 01267 248893
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  • Rebecca Bates
      • 01792 525 576
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  • Philippa Buckland
      • 01792 525409
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  • Claire Davies
      • 01792 529657
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  • Rachel Powell
      • 01267 248 887
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  • Laurie Taylor
      • 02920 855262
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  • Sharon Jones
      • 01267 248890
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  • Beverley-Anne Owen
      • 01792 525 416
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Mediation

If you are not able to resolve the issues yourselves or through solicitors, mediation is usually the next step. This is a neutral venue where the mediator will assist you in trying to agree future arrangements for your children in an amicable and child centred way.

If you are able to reach an agreement, this can be embodied into an informal agreement or into a court order (or a consent order) should you wish, paying consideration to the relevant children laws.

If you are not able to reach an agreement, then an application to the court may be necessary for the court to determine what is in the best interests of the children and set out defined arrangements in a court order. Applications of this nature should always be considered as a last resort and the court will always encourage parties to try and resolve any issues without recourse to court proceedings. A court order will carry a warning notice and there could be serious consequences if an order is breached, such as a fine, unpaid work and in extreme cases imprisonment. Careful consideration should be paid to what route is taken.

At JCP Solicitors we do not provide a mediation service but can signpost to a number of organisations who can assist.

Applying to Court

Before applying to the court, the court must be satisfied that you have attempted to resolve your issues through mediation. There are however, limited circumstances where mediation is not required.

An application can be made to the court for different types of orders such as:

  • Child Arrangements Orders - this is an order that sets out where a child lives and how much time they spend with their parent/ or in certain circumstances, other family members.
  • Specific Issue Orders – an application of this nature will be made to ask the court to determine a specific issue, one example being which school the child attends if this cannot be agreed between the parents.
  • Prohibited Steps Orders - this is an order preventing a parent from carrying out a certain act such as removing the child from where they live or from a certain school. This type of order will not remove a parent’s parental responsibility, it will simply prohibit a certain action whilst exercising their usual parental responsibility.
  • Special Guardianship Orders - these applications are often made by foster carers or family members caring for children who are not able to live with their parents for various reasons. An order of this nature would set out where the child lives and grant parental responsibility to the carer. This process would involve Social Services advising on the suitability of the person making the application and whether they support it.

Court Fees

Court applications will attract a fee. You may be eligible for a reduction or be exempt from paying the fee depending on your circumstances.

Court Approach

The court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. This means that any decision made by the court will be what they believe is best for the child or children in question. This may not be what the parent/s want, so making an application to the court should always be done when all other avenues have been tried, as the decision regarding the future arrangements could ultimately be taken out the parent’s hands. The court will always seek to promote a healthy relationship between a child and their parents providing it is safe to do so and would be in the child’s best interests.

CAFCASS

CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) are an independent service and may be asked by the court to assist in deciding what the arrangements for the children should be, always taking into account what would be safe and what would be in the child’s best interests. 

Grandparents

Grandparents may also find themselves in a situation where they are prevented from seeing their grandchildren. As a grandparent, you are able to make a referral to a mediator for assistance. If that is not successful you may also be able to make a court application, however, you would need permission of the court before any applications would be considered.

Other issues

Some other issues regarding children can include:-

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who gets custody of a child in divorce?

Parent should always try and discuss their wishes in a child focused way. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the process in terms of mediation/ court applications will need to be followed. The facts surrounding the divorce should not have a bearing on the child arrangements. The court will deal with matters with the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration at all times.

Q2. How do child arrangements orders work?

A child arrangements order can set out with whom the child should live and how often they see the other parent. They can set out specific details such as collections/ return, Christmas/special occasion arrangements and school holidays. Each case will differ depending on the facts.

Q3. How long will a child arrangements order last?

An order will last until the child is 18 years old, unless otherwise specified by the court or further order of the court.

Q4. What rights do grandparents have?

Grandparents do not have the same rights as parents. If they were to make a court application for defined time with their grandchild, they would need permission of the court first and the parents would also have to confirm whether they raise any objections. The court would need to consider their connection with the child and whether the request to see their grandchild would be in any way harmful.

Q5. Can I stop my ex-partner seeing our child?

The court will always seek to promote a healthy and meaningful relationship between a child and a parent. There would need to be compelling circumstances for the court to decide against allowing a parent to see a child, such circumstances would have to be potentially harmful to the child and go against what is best for the child’s welfare.

Q6. Can I change my child’s surname?

A child’s surname can only be changed with the agreement of every person who holds parental responsibility. If this is an issue that cannot be resolved it may require intervention from the court.