We are a top UK family law firm with a particular specialism working with parents through assisted reproduction, LGBT+ parents and on cases involving gender identity issues. We have experience handling many leading reported children cases and we work with a diverse range of families from all over the UK (and internationally).
We can help you with legal advice, support and legal representation with children law issues, including disputes about:
Who your child should live with or spend time with
Who should be involved in parenting decisions, or
Specific parenting issues (such as gender transitions, medical decisions and schooling).
In the first instance we usually arrange a meeting with you, to understand your situation and to guide you on what the family court is likely to do if you (or someone else) applies for a court order, and what steps you can take to find a solution as pragmatically as possible.
From there we can help you apply for a child arrangements order, or respond to an application made by someone else, or help you reach an agreement by other means.
A child arrangements order is a court order made by the family court which says who your child should live with and who they should spend time (as well as detailing the timings, location and any supervision arrangements). They used to be called residence and contact orders, and before that custody and access orders. Child arrangements orders can also be used to regulate parental responsibility (i.e. who has a right to be involved in parenting decisions).
You may need to ask the court for a child arrangements order if you have separated from your partner and cannot agree arrangements for your children. You might also need one if you are in a dispute with your child’s donor, surrogate or co-parent about arrangements for the child you have conceived together (or if you are a donor or co-parent seeking involvement with your child).
Child arrangements orders also deal with specific parenting issues where parents cannot agree. Issues include whether a child should have a particular medical treatment, be allowed to go through a social gender transition or attend a particular school. Where adults cannot agree, the family court can make an order resolving a specific issue, or make a prohibited steps order to stop something from happening.
Whatever the nature of your dispute, you will always be encouraged by the family court to reach agreement and to consider mediation where appropriate. If this is not possible or is unsuccessful the court will (after hearing the evidence from each side, and in some cases asking for input from CAFCASS and other experts) make a decision based on what is best for your child’s welfare. The court has a very broad discretion which makes it important to manage the process sensibly and strategically. We can help you to do that.
Legal parents and some other adults have an automatic right to apply to court for a child arrangements order. Other adults may first need the permission of the court, which will be given if you can show sufficient connection with the child. If you are a parent through donor conception or surrogacy, you may need to check whether you are entitled to apply before starting an application.
We can advise you, support you and offer legal representation in dealing with the other people involved in your case and the court. We will discuss with you honestly what is likely to happen, and advise you on what to do. We give robust but straightforward legal advice, and are highly experienced at representing LGBT+ and other different kinds of families.
We know how much you need someone on your side during what can be a stressful and emotional process. Our role is to guide you on strategy to ensure the best possible outcome, to provide exceptional legal representation and to support you at a personal level.
Our work is charged competitively on an hourly rate basis, with regular monthly invoicing and clear costs estimates given at every stage.
Our free online Knowledge Centre contains guidance, published articles and access to the law and forms you may need, including: