What is Private Children law?
Private Children law governs disputes about children and their welfare between parents or others with parental responsibility. Our solicitors help parents to negotiate and reach an agreement with the other parent – or if all else fails – to achieve binding determinations through other legal processes such as arbitration or court proceedings.
What does a private children law solicitor do?
We help our clients with all of the following legal issues and more:
Alternative dispute resolution
We help parents to negotiate arrangements for their children that they are comfortable with, and where both parents have a meaningful involvement in the child’s life – so long as that is in the child’s best interests and safe for them. Negotiations can be conducted directly between parents with our support, or through solicitor correspondence. Solicitor involvement can help to focus on the factual matters at hand and reach an agreement by removing the emotions from the situation. Family therapists can also help to resolve underlying issues, which in turn aids the progress of negotiations – we work with trusted third-party therapists and other professionals such as independent social workers to help with difficult parenting relationships.
Where agreements cannot be reached and mediation is appropriate, we help support clients through the process and provide them with advice throughout. Understandably, some people are very intimidated by the thought of mediating alone with the other parent; we can attend with them and this is known as ‘hybrid’ mediation. This is particularly better suited to those with a difficult, narcissistic or aggressive former partner, and where they are worried that their ex will control or gaslight them during the process.
If all other forms of dispute resolution have failed, it may be possible to appoint a Private Children Law Arbitrator – their decision is binding on both parents. Unlike court proceedings, arbitration can be tailored to make it more efficient and less hostile.
If arbitration is not suitable or agreed to by the other parent, we guide and support clients through the court process to secure the results needed for their children.
Orders that can be obtained through arbitration or the court process include:
Child arrangement orders
People are often unaware that child custody no longer exists and was removed as a legal concept in the 1980s. Parents now have parental responsibility for their children and this is not altered by separation or divorce. However, if they can’t agree on arrangements for their children to include who their children should live with and the time the children should spend with each parent then a “child arrangements order” can be applied for.
Specific Issue orders
When parents cannot reach a decision about welfare issues that relate to very specific matters such as planned medical treatment, the surname of a child, or when they can’t agree which school they should attend (particularly if one parent ultimately wants to move the child to another part of England & Wales) then a specific issue application can be applied for.
Permission to relocate a child overseas (also known as leave to remove from the jurisdiction)
In some cases, parents cannot agree on which country a child should live in. If a parent wants to move with the child outside of England & Wales for a legitimate reason, and with realistic plans, then we can help the parent obtain the court’s permission if the other parent objects to the move.
Likewise, we also represent parents who object to a child being moved abroad and help them to implement strategies to safeguard against a parent that is a flight risk, wrongfully abducting the child from this country.
Parental alienation is an incredibly complicated issue to deal with and accurately identify. In most cases, allegations of parental alienation occur when one parent is believed to have intentionally and maliciously influenced the child’s perception of the other parent negatively, causing damage to their relationship. We work with parents both accused of parental alienation (which is a common feature in domestic abuse cases) and parents whose relationships with their children have been eroded by parental alienation. We provide strategic legal advice and recommend specialist therapists and independent social workers to help our clients.
If you would like any further information, please contact our family law team to discuss your circumstances.