Children

“I have you to thank for your clarity, competence and awakeness, and your great way of sticking to what's right.”

Ms T, London
Blake Morgan's experienced Family Law Solicitors specialise in representing parents who are in dispute about where their children should live, financial provision for children, as well as adoption law and care proceedings.

Main areas of practice

When parents separate, they often disagree about what should happen to children.  The courts encourage parents to try to agree the arrangements between them.  Failing this, it is only when parents can't agree what should happen that the courts have wide-ranging powers to intervene in the best interests of the children.

Our Family Law team is well equipped to deal with the following issues:

  • Parental responsibility - anyone with "parental responsibility" for a child can take decisions concerning that child.  Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. Our solicitors can advise both Mothers and Fathers concerning their rights.
  • Residence Order - a Residence Order determines which person a child shall live with.  Shared Residence Orders are possible in some cases.
  • Contact Order - a Contact Order requires the person with whom the child lives to allow the child to visit or stay with a person named in the order or for that person and child otherwise to have contact with each other. Contact Orders can contain conditions and limitations.
  • Specific Issue Order - a Specific Issue Order is an order determining a specific question in relation to the upbringing of a child or any aspect of parental responsibility e.g. it can determine which school a child should attend, what religion a child should be brought up in, whether a child should undergo an operation or change his/her name or other major issues concerning a child’s life.
  • Prohibited Steps Order - this is an order that prevents someone from doing something which they could normally do within the exercise of their parental responsibility e.g. they can be prohibited from allowing a child contact with a particular person, or from visiting a child at school, or from removing the child from the jurisdiction (temporarily or permanently)
  • Guardianship - the Court can appoint a guardian for a child if there is no parent with parental responsibility for him, or someone with a Residence Order in respect of a child has died.  An appointment of a guardian can be made under a Will but this only takes effect on the death of the last person with parental responsibility for the child or the person with a Residence Order.
  • Emergency issues - it is possible to issue applications to the Court without notifying the other party in urgent cases, e.g. in case involving child abduction.
  • Financial provision for children - where unmarried parents separate, an application can be made for a Financial Order under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 for a lump sum and/or a property adjustment order for the benefit of the child. We can also assist with child maintenance claims and disputes (see below).
  • Adoption - private adoption includes the situation where a child is adopted by a step-parent or a family member; inter country adoption of a non related child and adoption on a private basis. Our experience includes advising in cases involving inter country adoptions which can often be highly complex.  It is vitally important that specialist advice is obtained in such cases.
  • Care proceedings - we have extensive experience in representing parents and grandparents of children who have been taken into care by the local authority.  Specialist advice is an absolute must in this often fraught area of legal practice.
  • Domestic violence - taking emergency steps to prevent physical harm to a family member.  The Court has wide-ranging powers to make non-molestation and occupation orders to protect against physical harm and harassment.  We are in a position to deal with these very sensitive matters on your behalf and seek injunctive relief, often at very short notice.

For further details please visit our Children's Law Guide, which gives details into the Court's role and the range of Orders they can give.

Child maintenance

In principle, the primary career of a child is entitled to receive child support from the other parent.  This can be agreed between the parents, or if they cannot agree either can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (The CSA now only deals with existing cases) for a child maintenance assessment.  The Child Maintenance Service has jurisdiction to make an assessment (that can only be varied by agreement between the parties or a Court Order) which is binding on the absent parent and can be enforced. 

Over recent years there have been introduced tough new powers, which can be used against parents whom they consider are attempting to dodge their financial responsibilities towards their children, including powers to freeze the sale or transfer of assets by offending parents, and lump sum deduction orders which force banks to hand over money held in the accounts of offending parents.

The regulations governing the Child Maintenance Service are technical and complex.  Expert advice is advisable if you are involved with the service or dealing with an appeal against their assessment or enforcement of the same. We can offer tailored specialist advice assisted by expert barristers in his area of law. Fixed free agreements are available. Please contact us to discuss.

International maintenance issues

On 20 December 2012 new rules came in to force that have a far-reaching impact on the way maintenance disputes with international dimensions are dealt with and enforced.

The new rules (and forms prepared by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Convention) provide global uniformity for establishing and enforcing maintenance payments.

For further information or to talk to someone about children issues, please call a Family Law team member.

Related expertise

Main contacts

Related Knowledge & Resources

Oxford solicitor nominated for family law award

Press Release

Oxford solicitor Catherine Morgan has been recognised for outstanding work and her involvement in the local family law community with a nomination for a national award.

New Safeguarding Children and Young People Guidance

News

The Charity Commission has published updated guidance on Safeguarding Children and Young Persons.

Child Support Agency changes

News

We highlight new rules which change the way that Child Maintenance is calculated.

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In England and Wales, an employer must check a potential employee's criminal records if they apply for certain jobs or voluntary positions. This is carried out through the Disclosure and Barring Service (previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau)

Decisions regarding medical treatment of a child

The recent Junior Doctors strikes made me consider the legal problems that can arise for medical professionals when it comes to deciding what medical treatment a child should receive and the balancing act that doctors sometimes have to play.

Why does a father need parental responsibility?

A father with parental authority has legal authority to make decisions about important aspects of a child's life.

Resources for children and young people

Our Family mediation team have complied a helpful list of resources that can help children and young people going through separation and divorce in the family.

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We discuss the benefits of dealing with Children's Act disputes at mediation.

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We highlight that funding cuts could silence the voices of some of our most vulnerable children in our family courts.