When faced with the breakdown of your relationship, your main concern is naturally going to be your children’s welfare. A relationship break-up is a challenging time for all, especially a child, and we understand that the decisions you may have to make about the children will be the most difficult.
At hpjv solicitors, we never forget that our clients’ children are their priority and that their emotional and physical wellbeing is essential. That is why we will aim to provide legal advice that enables you to protect your child’s security and future. We recognise that everyone’s situation is different and that the legal advice and practical steps required differ from case to case. However, in certain circumstances the need to involve the Family Court is unavoidable and may be the best or only option for you and your family.
Book a free first consultation for advice about arrangements for children
If you are going through a relationship breakdown and need to make vital decisions about matters like:
- Where your children will live
- How much time they will spend with each parent
- Where they will spend holidays such as Christmas
- How they will be brought up, for example, where they will go to school
- Child maintenance Payments
We can provide practical advice and professional support.
For new clients, we are happy to offer a free initial 30-minute consultation either by telephone or at our offices where we can talk you through our services and how we can help.
How our child law solicitors can help
Our family lawyers have decades of experience providing guidance and support to individuals across Newport, South Wales.
We will provide a full explanation in plain English of the process you will need to go through to resolve your case so you can make informed decisions and are not left feeling uncertain about your legal rights and responsibilities for you and your children.
We are members of the Law Society Family Law Advanced and Children Law Accreditation schemes for our skills and expertise. Amongst our talented team, Jayne Chandler is a member of the Family Panel and Family Law Advanced Panel and Julianne Hamling is a member of the Law Society Child Care Panel.
Children-related court applications we can help with
Our child law solicitors have extensive expertise across all types of Family Court proceedings. The most common court orders granted in cases regarding private children matters and following the breakdown of a relationship are:
- Child Arrangement Orders are granted by the Family Court when making decisions about matters like:
- Who the children are to live with
- How much time they should spend with either parent
- Whether they should stay overnight with the other parent, go on holidays, share their time at Christmas and other celebrations
- Specific Issue Orders are granted by the Court if there are specific matters surrounding a child’s upbringing that cannot be dealt with by agreement between their parents. This could include what school a child should attend.
- Prohibited Steps Orders prevent one parent from acting in a particular way regarding their child and would be recommended if one parent threatened to take a child out of the country without the other’s consent.
These are just some examples of when a court order may be required. We appreciate that everyone’s situation is very different and would recommend that you obtain legal advice tailored to you and your children’s specific needs.
Should you have any questions that relate to private children matters concerning your family, whether it be your children, step children, or grandchildren then please contact a member of our family team.
Child Arrangement Order FAQs
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility relates to the legal rights, duties, powers and authority a parent has regarding the upbringing of their child. Parents who have parental responsibility are obliged to agree on important issues surrounding their child’s lives and upbringing where possible.
When matters cannot be agreed between parents, then the Family Court can be invited by either parent to assist in making decisions on behalf of the parents.
How does the Court make a decision about where my children should live?
If the parents cannot make a decision about where their children will live, the Family Court can make a decision on their behalf. However, they will only do so after considering all the issues and evidence in your case.
In law, the Court must put the child’s welfare first and can only make a decision that is deemed in their best interests. To come to a decision, the Court will use what is known as the “welfare checklist”.
The Court may refuse to make an order if it is in not in the child’s best interests to do so. This is known as the No Order principle as the Courts would prefer parents to reach their own decisions regarding their children without the need for a formal Court order to be in place.
My ex-partner is stopping me from seeing my child, what can I do?
We would advise that you do not delay in taking steps to resume contact with your child as this could have a negative effect on your case. The passage of time can seem much longer to a child, so any delay in you seeing them could be detrimental.
We would advise that any attempt to reinstate contact be achieved through negotiation with your ex-partner via your solicitor and the mediation process. If that proves unsuccessful then an application to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order (Contact order) should be pursued.
The Court can assist in making arrangements to re-establish your relationship as soon as possible, if it is deemed in your child’s best interests to do so.
We have a Contact Order in place, but my ex-partner will not adhere to the order granted, what can I do?
If the Court has granted a Child Arrangement Order or Contact Order allowing you contact with your child, and you are being refused access to your child, this could be deemed in breach of the Order. If that is the case, we advise that you apply to the Family Court to enforce the terms. If you are successful, your ex-partner could face a fine or other penalty.
We would advise you to seek legal advice from one of our family lawyers if you are concerned that an Order is not being complied with. A specialist family lawyer can consider the terms of the Contact Order in full detail and provide accurate advice based on your individual circumstances and advise on what steps you should take.
How much child maintenance should my ex-partner be paying me for our children?
Child maintenance is not a matter which the Family Court can decide upon save in limited circumstances. You and your ex-partner should therefore try to agree a reasonable amount for the children. If an agreement cannot be reached or should a parent refuse to pay, then we advise that you make an application to the Child Maintenance Service who will assess your ex-partner’s liability to pay. An amount can be deducted from their earnings following assessment.
We would advise you to look at the HMRC website Child Maintenance calculator.
Do I have to pay court fees to get a Child Arrangement Order?
You will have to pay court fees unless you are eligible for fee remission (money off your fees). To be eligible, you must be on a low income and/or on certain benefits.
Do I have to go to mediation before applying for a Child Arrangement Order?
You are not required to attend mediation, which is a voluntary process, but you will have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM) other than in certain circumstances.
The purpose of the MIAM is to see whether mediation could help you resolve your matter without going to court. Court proceedings can be lengthy, expensive and stressful, particularly for children. Therefore, if you and your ex-partner think you may be able to sort out your issues between yourselves, mediation could help you.
What is Cafcass and why are they involved in my case?
Cafcass is an organisation which helps and represents children in Family Court cases. Their purpose is to ensure your child’s voice is being heard throughout the proceedings so that the judge can make a decision in their best interests.
Cafcass are not social services and in private child arrangement proceedings, their goal is to help you and your ex-partner achieve a safe outcome for your family, not to interfere in how you look after your children.
For more information about what Cafcass do in child arrangement cases, please visit their Divorce and Separation page.
Book a free first consultation for advice about arrangements for children
We offer a free first consultation on all family matters. We also offer fixed fees for your legal costs to make sure that you have clarity on how much your matter will cost, removing any unnecessary worry of escalating legal costs.