We assist our clients in all aspects of private children law, and guide them through, what can often be a very emotional and challenging time. Relationship breakdown often impacts the wider family, so when it comes to matters relating to children we act for parents, step-parents, grandparents and alternative families.
Every family is unique, and the needs of parents and children vary from case to case. There is no ‘one plan fits all’, and our highly experienced family team strives to resolve every dispute in a sensitive, pragmatic and child-focussed way.
Child Arrangements Orders (sometimes referred to as CAOs) regulate with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact and when a child shall live, spend time or otherwise have contact with another person. They also specify how any contact should take place, such as visiting, overnight or for extended periods, remotely, by telephone call, email or text, and whether supervised or unsupervised.
If parents separate and cannot agree with whom their child shall live and how much time they shall spend with the other parent, they can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order and ask the court to determine living and contact arrangements.
Child Arrangements Orders usually come to an end when the child turns 16 but can continue beyond this in exceptional circumstances.
It is not only the parents of a child who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. Others who may apply include step-parents, guardians and special guardians, those with parental responsibility for the child and those with whom the child has lived.
Other persons, such as grandparents and other relatives, may also apply for a Child Arrangements Order with the permission of the court.
The court should always be the last recourse for clients, but in the absence of agreement, it has the power to make a wide range of orders in relation to children, aside from Child Arrangements Orders, including the following:
Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties and responsibilities which by law a parent has in relation to their child. Those who have parental responsibility for a child should consult with each other and jointly make all major decisions in the child’s life – in relation to religion, education and medical treatment, for example. Any dispute regarding a matter of parental responsibility which cannot be resolved by agreement may be determined by the court.
Specific Issue Orders (SIOs)
These orders deal with specific issues that arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child, such as where the child should go to school, if they should be taken out of the jurisdiction for a holiday and whether they should have a religious upbringing or proposed medical treatment.
Prohibited Steps Orders (PSOs)
These orders prevent steps from being taken in the exercise of parental responsibility without the consent of the court. They are usually made to prevent a child from being removed from the UK, their current school, or in connection with medical treatment.
International relocation orders
Our specialist family team has a wealth of experience in the full range of issues relating to children, including parental responsibility, establishing paternity, living, contact and educational arrangements, change of surname and relocation within the UK and internationally.
Parties should work together and try to agree living, contact and education arrangements which are in the child’s best interests. However, this is not always possible, and our family team is well-versed in all the difficulties that arise when parties are unable to reach an agreement and make joint decisions for the child’s care and welfare.
As a team, we provide informative and pragmatic advice and navigate our clients through the daily practicalities and other issues relating to children. We also explain the legal process for emergency orders and ongoing disputes, as well as explore methods of alternative dispute resolution (see Family Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution) where appropriate, whether our clients are contemplating making, or are required to respond to, an application to the court.
Sheridans has a specialist family team which provides advice in all aspects of family law, within a leading media, entertainment and technology law firm. We understand our clients’ needs for discretion, personal and bespoke advice in order to manage highly sensitive family cases.
‘I found the quality of service outstanding. All of the individuals I encountered were extremely impressive – very on the ball legally and extremely responsive.’
‘Sheridans provides brilliant and balanced advice. It handles its cases with an effortless efficiency and there is an air of reassuring quality when dealing with the firm.’
‘Sheridans has a wealth of experience in all aspects of private family law. It routinely acts for high-net-worth and high-profile individuals such as actors, sports stars and elite athletes, and there is often a significant international dimension to its work.’
‘Nothing is too much hassle, and everything is done promptly. Experienced, thoughtful and professional.’
‘The children/private law practice is first class – they show a real commitment to their clients and are able, with considerable expertise and an excellent knowledge base, to offer the type of service clients need. They offer realistic advice and then drive and persevere to pursue their case.’
‘The team provides a very personal and joined up experience across their different practice areas.’
‘Professional and knowledgeable. Very helpful and concentrates on what is absolutely needed.’
‘The team is well-placed to advise those who are susceptible to press exposure.’
‘The group’s particular expertise lies in advising wealthy individuals on issues such as matrimonial finance and private law children matters frequently with an international dimension.’
Sheridans is a leading media and technology law firm whose lawyers combine in-depth legal and commercial knowledge with breadth of expertise and experience to give unparalleled advice to their clients.