Family Law: What you need to know in respect of children

posted: 25th May 2017

Here at PMC Family Law, we deal with all manner of children matters including contact, residence, change of jurisdiction, change of name, surrogacy and adoption etc.

The Children Act 1989 contains the majority of the law in relation to children. Under Section 8 a parent can apply to the court for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined above. Grandparents and close relatives to the child(ren) are also able to apply to the court for permission to make an application in relation to a child.

Before an application can be made to the court, a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) will have to take place. This will enable a mediator to assess your situation and determine whether mediation will be suitable for you. If mediation is not viable, then they will provide you with a signed form which will enable you to make your application to court. There are exemptions to attending a MIAM including where there have been incidences of domestic violence, where there is urgency (such as a party fleeing the country with your child); where the application is in relation to a matter already before the court etc. If you want any advice with regard to whether you are exempt from attending a MIAM and wish to make your application to court, get in contact with one of our family law experts today.

The most common application to court is for a Child Arrangement Order. Previously, this was a Residence Order and Contact Order, but is now combined into a single order which outlines who the child(ren) will have contact with and who they will reside with. The court will consider what you are asking for and list the matter for a First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA). It may be the case that you and the other party agree to matters at this hearing, and a final order can be made outlining contact. However, in the case that you do not agree, then typically the matter will be listed for a further hearing, whereby directions will be ordered such as both parties preparing position statements, outlining their proposals moving forward. You would then proceed to the next hearing and depending on your case and circumstances the matter could conclude. If you need any advice on this then contact our team today.

Another application that can be made to court is for a Prohibited Steps Order. This means that you are asking the court to stop the other party from doing something in relation to this child. For example, you could make an application to the court to stop a person with parental responsibility from moving outside of the jurisdiction such as moving to Spain.

If you have a specific issue that you wish the court to deal with then you could apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order. An example of the same would be if your ex-partner wished to change the child’s school and you wanted them to remain where they were. You could ask the court to make an order setting out the reasons why the child should remain in their current school. Another example could be in relation to the child’s religion.

As well as the above applications, here at PMC Family Law we also deal with matters of parental alienation. This occurs when a child is manipulated psychologically into fearing, disrespecting or showing hostility towards a parent or family member. This generally occurs when parents have separated or are going through the divorce process. If you want more information in regard to this, you can read our blogs which go into detail or alternatively telephone us to arrange an appointment with one of our specialist family solicitors.

In many cases the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) will become involved in children matters. Their role is to look after the children involved in the proceedings. Depending on your case they may simply complete safeguarding checks and provide their proposals to the court and then have no further involvement with the process. They could also become more involved in the case whereby they would undertake a section 7 report which will require them to contact each parent and speak to them in regards to all the issues of the case and speak to the children to obtain their wishes and feelings. In any event, CAFCASS provide the Court with their views and proposals, the court will then take this into consideration, as well as all the evidence provided by each party, to determine the outcome of the case, if the parties cannot agree.

If you are currently going through the court process or believe that this may unfortunately be the last course of action you can take, then do not hesitate to contact us today. Our compassionate and understanding family law solicitors have a wide range of experience in relation to the above. We provide a non-obligatory initial consultation to allow you to process the advice you are given and then proceed when you are ready. You can contact us today by telephone 0151 375 9968 or by email with your enquiry to .

By: Lindsey Potter - Paralegal