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Children

Our specialist child unit offers extensive expertise in relation to national and international issues concerning children.

Our work includes providing advice in relation to:

  • parental responsibility orders: where the parents are not married and the father is not named on the birth certificate, the father can only obtain parental responsibility (all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority in relation to a child) by written agreement with the mother or by a Court Order. Parental responsibility may also be sought by a step-parent or a second female parent
  • child arrangement orders: these are orders which regulate arrangements as to (i) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact; and (ii) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person
  • relocation disputes: where one parent wishes to relocate a child, nationally or internationally
  • specific issue and prohibited steps orders: these relate to issues such as where and how a child should be educated, what surname a child should use, whether medical treatment can be provided and whether a child can be taken abroad on holiday.

We aim to assist parents, where possible, to achieve workable solutions which have their children’s best interests at heart.  We strongly believe in round-table settlement meetings but sometimes disputes do have to be settled in Court.  We ensure that, if this happens, we provide clients with a dedicated and supportive team.

Our other key areas of focus include:

Adoption and fostering

This is a complex and specialist area.  We assist in all types of cases, including adoption by step-parents (both heterosexual and same sex) and relatives and international adoptions.

Child abduction

If a child is taken out of England and Wales without the agreement of the other parent or without a Court Order, or if a child is unlawfully removed from another country to the UK, then the parent left behind may be able to apply for an Order in the English Courts that the child be returned. 

If there is a concern that a child may be removed from his/her home country, then appropriate steps can be taken to prevent this. We have extensive experience of Hague and European Convention cases and provide a committed, round-the-clock service to our clients at a difficult and emotional time.

Child finances

The Child Maintenance Service determines the level of child maintenance payable by an absent parent where both parents and the child are normally resident in the UK.  However, where the absent parent’s gross income exceeds £156,000 or where the absent parent does not reside in England and Wales, it is possible to apply to the Court for “top-up” maintenance Orders.  The Court also has jurisdiction to make Orders in relation to payment of school fees. A parent may also be ordered to make a lump sum payment, or to transfer or settle property for the benefit of a child.  We have significant experience of such situations and have acted on a number of cases involving high profile, wealthy absent parents.

Surrogacy
Surrogacy (whereby a woman carries a child for someone else with the intention of handing the child over at birth) is a complex area of the law.  It is advisable to seek legal advice at an early stage. We have developed a particular expertise in this area. Our role is to facilitate the process for our clients who, as commissioning parents, may be a heterosexual or same sex couple. There is an increasing international element to surrogacy arrangements as more couples choose to use a surrogate abroad. Our clients benefit from the links we have with specialist immigration lawyers and colleagues abroad.