The expert lawyers we employ at Higgins Miller have vast experience of dealing with complex issues of family law. This includes helping people to cope with the likes of wills and probate, adoption, divorce and civil partnership and domestic violence. We’re particularly skilled when it comes to dealing with cases involving children, and our child law solicitors combine expertise with empathy to guide clients through the issues which arise when dealing with the law around children.
There are various circumstances under which you might need to call upon the expert advice of our child law solicitors. You may be interested in adopting a child, for example, or having to deal with a social services enquiry into the well-being of one of your own children. On many occasions, our child law solicitors have to deal with making arrangements for the care of a child following the break-up of a relationship. Whether we’re dealing with divorce, the end of a civil partnership or a cohabiting couple splitting up, we realise that the care of any children can be one of the most divisive and emotionally explosive issues, and so our child law solicitors will always work to take the emotion out of the situation and ensure that the child in question is placed at the centre of every decision.
A majority of the cases which our child law solicitors have to deal with centre upon the issue of Parental Responsibility. This is a legal term which was introduced in the Children Act 1989 and it covers the duty of care which a parent has toward a child and the kind of decisions which they will be allowed to have a say in. Mothers and married fathers automatically have parental responsibility unless they are names on the child’s birth certificate and this doesn’t change in the event of a divorce. Unmarried fathers, however, do not automatically have parental responsibility, and nor do step-parents and grandparents.
In simple terms, someone with parental responsibility is responsible for the following:
- Providing a home for the child
- Maintaining and caring for the child
- Providing discipline for the child
- Arranging and providing education
- Agreeing to any medical treatment
- Caring for the child’s property
The duty to care financially for a child doesn’t change even if a parent doesn’t have parental responsibility in legal terms.
The key aspect of parental responsibility which our child law solicitors often have to deal with is the fact that any parent with parental responsibility has to be consulted whenever an important decision about the life of the child in question is being made. Examples of this might include one parent intending to move house so that the children are living far away from the other parent, changing the way in which they are educated or even moving to another country altogether. In cases such as these, if one of the people with parental responsibility doesn’t consent to the change, our child law solicitors will be able to advise as to what the best steps to take are. In the majority of cases our child law solicitors will always try to help both parties reach a compromise, but if this isn’t possible we will help with an application for a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order, which will mean a judge is asked to decide what is best for the child.
Another issue which our child law solicitors often deal with is the care of a child following the end of a relationship. In legal terms, the parents involved need to make an arrangement covering factors such as where the child will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. This can be decided separately from any issues of maintenance, and our child law solicitors will always work with clients to draw up a plan which can be agreed between the parents without having to go to court. In some cases this might mean us acting on a client’s behalf in discussions, or guiding them toward mediation services, and once an arrangement has been drawn up we can work to turn it into a legally binding agreement. Wherever possible, we will try to avoid court appearances, as this means the process takes longer, costs a lot more and is much more stressful.
Other issues which our child law solicitors have the experience and expertise to deal with include guardianship, adoption, fostering and child safety in cases of domestic violence. If you’d like some advice on any aspect of child law or parental responsibility, please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. An initial 20 minute appraisal is provided free of charge, and we offer a first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.