Child Law Solicitors & Family Lawyers - Boodle Hatfield

Your lawyers since 1722

Child Law Services

We focus on finding practical, child-focused solutions to help you and your family through difficult times. If you need help with child arrangements, child abduction matters or moving abroad with your children, we can provide expert legal advice.

Disagreements about children can be incredibly difficult and emotional. When these issues unfortunately arise we operate with a high level of sensitivity, discretion and expertise in order to help you resolve matters.

Our child law solicitors are committed to finding a solution that focuses on your child’s best interests and allows you to move forward.

We can advise you on all matters involving children, including the amount of time a child spends with parents or other family members, abduction matters or on cases where one party would like to move abroad, or to another part of the country, with the children. We want to minimise the amount of stress involved at this highly emotional time in your life.

Our experience of advising on many complex domestic and international children cases over the years means that we have the knowledge and experience to guide you on:

  • Child Arrangements – One of the most common disagreements in divorce or separation is parenting plans/childcare. Our children law solicitors know that each case is unique, meaning we tailor our approach to ensure the children’s best interests are at the centre of the advice we offer
  • Leave to remove – Life is complicated and increasingly families live in different countries or parents move around for work. If this means one party needs to relocate permanently, we can assist in securing permission from the other parent or the court
  • Child Abduction – Our child abduction solicitors in London have expertise in all matters involving child abduction. Child abduction can be when one parent decides to take or keep a child abroad without the consent of the other parent, even if it is temporarily. Our children lawyers will work closely with you to resolve any child abduction situations
  • Financial remedy – Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children. We understand financial remedies involving children can be complex. Our children lawyers have a wealth of experience ensuring financial support for children is arranged fairly taking into considering the circumstances of both parties

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “parental responsibility”?
Those with parental responsibility have a say in key decisions such as:

  • Determining where the child should live
  • Naming the child
  • Obtaining appropriate medical treatment for the child and/or consenting to medical treatment of the child
  • Determining the child’s religious upbringing
  • Having a say in relation to emigration of the child/removal of the child from jurisdiction
  • Ensuring the child receives appropriate education.

Who has parental responsibility?
A child’s biological mother automatically has parental responsibility. When the child is born, a biological father who is married to the child’s mother will also automatically have parental responsibility. A father can also acquire parental responsibility by marrying the child’s mother after the child is born. Generally, a father who is named on the birth certificate of the child will automatically have parental responsibility, even if they are not or have not, been married to the child’s mother. The court may confer parental responsibility by way of a court order.

This is more complicated for same-sex couples, and we would be happy to provide further information relevant to your specific situation.

Who will our child live and spend time with?
Parents are free to agree the arrangements for the children that best suit them. Where a couple cannot agree, the legal route may be the only feasible option.

If mediation or other forms of dispute resolution fail, then the court may be compelled to determine the arrangements for the child. The court’s paramount consideration will always be the welfare of the child. The court will take into account the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child; the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs; the child’s characteristics such as age and background; any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering; the capacity of each of the child’s parents; and the range of powers available to the court.

How can we resolve disputes relating to the financial cost of bringing up our child?
Both parents are financially responsible for their children. As a minimum, children are entitled to statutory maintenance to provide help with the upkeep of the child and their everyday living costs, to be arranged through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). This will be calculated as a percentage of the non-resident parent’s income, up to a maximum of a gross weekly income of £3,000. The sums payable will be varied based on factors such as the number of children the paying party have to support and the number of nights per week that particular child stays with the paying parent.

In divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings, the courts have the power to order for financial provision to be made in respect of children as part of the existing proceedings. Unmarried parents may make an application for financial provision under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. Regular payments of child maintenance may, in certain circumstances, include an element of ‘carer’s allowance’ for the parent with whom the child lives. The Court has the power to order the payment of capital, too.

Can I move abroad with, or prevent my ex from taking, our child overseas?
To move abroad with your child, you must acquire written consent from any person who has parental responsibility for the child. If there is no agreement, the parent wishing to take the child overseas may apply to the court for permission to do so. The paramount consideration throughout proceedings will be the welfare of the child. The judge will also consider how permission or refusal to relocate will affect the parents, and will consider the plans that have been made, as well as whether the parent’s wish to relocate, and the reasons for opposing it, are genuine.

Click here to see our Family Law Glossary.

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