The family court always prefers parents to resolve any disagreements over childcare between themselves – but sometimes this is not possible.
The court will always decide on childcare matters putting the welfare of the child first, rather than parental wishes – but in cases where parents are in dispute over their children following separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, one or both parents can apply to the family court for a range of children court orders to resolve matters.
From 2014, Child Arrangement Orders replaced Residence Orders and child Contact Orders. Parents or others with Parental Responsibility – such as grandparents or guardians – can apply for a Child Arrangement Order to resolve disputes over where a child should live.
A Child Arrangement Order could also apply to issues involving a child being removed from the UK to travel or live abroad – as well as establishing how contact with a child can be arranged, such as visits, birthday cards or correspondence.
Specific Issue Orders are applied for by a parent or individual with Parental Responsibility to resolve issues such as choice of school, paying school fees – and specific funding issues, as opposed to regular maintenance and child support (eg in the case of a further education course or school trip). Specific Issue Orders are also an option in disputes over medical care, or changing a child’s or name or religion.
If one parent applies for a Specific Issue Order to resolve a dispute, the other parent or individual(s) with Parental Responsibility can also challenge the application using a Prohibitive Steps Order.
A Prohibitive Steps Order is granted by a family court to prevent any action a parent might take which the court and the other parent considers is not in the best interests of the child – for example, if one parent wishes to take a child overseas and there is a risk of child abduction.
Once a Prohibitive Steps Order is granted, parents have to seek the permission of the court before any taking any course of action prohibited by the order – for example, taking a child abroad.
Parents can also apply to the court to make a child a Ward of Court if, for example, they might be taken abroad – or might be affected by a harmful influence in their lives, such as an activity or religion which might result in harm.
Wardships can also be used if there is a risk a child might be abducted by a parent or family member – ports and border officials will be alerted to a child who is a Ward of Court to prevent them being taken overseas unlawfully.
In cases where agreement cannot be reached between a couple, Duncan Lewis can also arrange Family Mediation to help both parties work through the issues and reach a solution, without recourse to the courts.
The courts will always take into account the welfare of the child so working through any differences within lawyer supported Family Mediation can help avoid traumatic court action.
Both parents can appoint their own Duncan Lewis child care lawyer to give independent legal advice at every stage of the mediation process – Duncan Lewis’ own Mediators include Resolution qualified Professional Practice Consultants.
Duncan Lewis is ranked by the Legal 500 2014 for its Family & Matrimonial work – and the Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children Panel – so our team is well placed to help you with child matters involving children court orders.
Duncan Lewis children lawyers offer a fixed fee for an initial client interview and assessment of a private child matter involving applying for a children court order.
After a case has been assessed, it is usually possible for a fixed fee arrangement to be put in place – and Duncan Lewis will always advise clients of the costs in advance.
Duncan Lewis is also one of the UK’s largest providers of Legal Aid family law services – including child care law – and in some cases may be able to offer Legal Aid funding for child care cases, including help with the costs of applying for court orders if a client is on benefits or has a low income.
Duncan Lewis children lawyers always advise clients who are seeking help with child care matters – or who are considering applying for a court order – to get in touch as soon as possible before the situation escalates.
Once you have contacted Duncan Lewis, we can act swiftly in any child care matter and put in place measures to help resolve the issues and prevent further dispute and/or legal costs mounting up.
For expert legal advice on all child care matters – including children court orders – contact Duncan Lewis Children Lawyers on 020 7923 4020.