Children law

Our family law experts

Alison Gosling
Elizabeth Davies
Trainee Solicitor
Farhad Islam
Jenny Powell
Legal Assistant
Stuart Tyler
Every parent hopes that if their relationship ends, they will be able to make future arrangements with their ex-partner in relation to the children without the involvement of solicitors or the courts.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and parents sometimes need child law advice to resolve matters in the best interests of their children. In these types of situations, seeking the guidance of children law solicitors is essential.

Our specialist children law solicitors in Essex have experience in all aspects of private children law matters. No matter your circumstances, our team are available to provide the support required, such as helping our clients agree on child residence arrangements following separation, divorce or dissolution. We can also help clients obtain contact with their children if there has been a breakdown in contact over a longer period of time.

Sometimes it may also be necessary to make a court application in relation to specific issues, such as whether the parent with whom the children are living is permitted to move out of the local area, issues in respect of choosing a school, whether a parent is permitted to change a child’s name or their children’s religion. We can also provide assistance with child maintenance agreements.

Gepp Solicitors are dedicated to advising and representing parents on all of the above matters. When you choose to instruct the Gepp children law team, we will carefully pay attention to your individual circumstances and needs. This allows us to discuss all of your options with you thoroughly. We will ensure that the advice we give to you will always be in the best interests of the children.

At Gepp Solicitors, we always try to encourage parents to agree on childcare arrangements through out-of-court methods, such as mediation, with our assistance.

Our team see court action as a last resort. We recognise attending court in respect of your children is very nerve-racking, and should it be necessary, we will always approach matters in a reassuring manner, which can help parents with the sensitive aspects of their case.

Rest assured, we’ll do all we can to move things along swiftly and make the process as pain-free as possible. And above all, we’ll handle every stage with the utmost care and sensitivity.

Our expertise children law solicitors services include:

  • Voluntary parenting agreements covering matters like where children will live most of the time and how much time they will spend with each parent
  • Child Arrangement Orders – to decide things like where children will live and who they should have contact with
  • Specific Issue Orders – to make a specific decision about a child’s upbringing, such as where they should go to school
  • Prohibited Steps Orders – to prevent someone with parental responsibility from making a particular decision in relation to a child, such as to stop your partner from taking your child to live abroad
  • Parental Responsibility

All of our solicitors in the family law team at Gepp Solicitors are a member of Resolution, which is a national association of family lawyers. We’re committed to helping parents put the welfare of their children at the heart of the legal decisions they make.

Consult our children law solicitors

For swift, expert advice on dealing with children law issues, please contact our local Gepp Solicitors office in Chelmsford.

Have a quick question or want to request a call back? Use our simple online enquiry form.

How we can help you with children law

Voluntary parenting agreements

When parents separate, divorce or dissolve their civil partnership, they need to consider where their children will live and the type of contact each parent will have, and this can sometimes lead to custody disputes. For this reason, obtaining guidance from a solicitor is crucial.

Our solicitors can help parents make an amicable voluntary parenting agreement through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as private negotiation and mediation.

Child arrangement orders

If a decision is not possible or appropriate to be made between parents through out-of-court approaches, it may be more suitable to obtain a decision from the court.

A child law solicitor at Gepp Solicitors can walk you through the court litigation process, including helping you prepare for the hearing, such as drafting a robust argument and gathering supportive evidence, as well as providing specialist representation.

Specific issue orders

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on your child’s upbringing, a Specific Issue Order can permit you to carry out certain actions without the other parent’s authorisation.

Our solicitors can guide you through the process of applying, including emergency court applications.

Our children law lawyers can assist with Specific Issue Orders matters, including:

  • Changing a child’s name
  • The child undergoing certain medical treatment
  • Their religious upbringing
  • Where the child will attend nursery or school
  • Permission to take the child on holiday or move abroad

Prohibited steps orders

Not all parents are able to agree on matters concerning their children. However, it is possible to prevent one parent from carrying out a specific action by obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order from the court.

Our solicitors can assist you with the application process, including emergency prohibited steps orders for pressing matters.

Examples of prohibited steps orders our children law solicitors can assist with include:

  • Preventing the child’s name from being changed
  • Preventing the child from coming into contact with a particular person
  • Preventing the child from moving or going on holiday abroad
  • Preventing the child from moving nursery or school
  • Preventing the child from undergoing a medical treatment

Parental responsibility

Not all biological parents have parental responsibility for their children. Biological mothers of children will automatically receive parental responsibility, in addition to those married to the child’s mother or whose name was written on the child’s birth certificate (only after a particular date and depending on where the child was born).

Our parental responsibility solicitors can provide assistance on all types of matters, including concluding whether you have parental responsibility, agreeing and signing a parental responsibility agreement, and, if necessary, applying for a court order.

How we resolve children law matters in the right way for you

At Gepp Solicitors, our team will always personalise our service to suit your circumstances, ensuring your and your child’s best interests are always met.

The children law options we can help with include:

Advice on your legal rights and the appropriate options – this allows you to know your position and the steps you can take moving forward.

Alternative dispute resolution – ADR methods such as private negotiation and mediation are often less contentious, less time-consuming and more cost-effective than court litigation.

Court litigation – where the most appropriate option for your child law matter is through court proceedings, you can be confident of receiving advice and guidance from a team with a strong record of success.

Our children law solicitors’ fees

Fixed fee children law advice

For more simple children law matters, our solicitors may be able to assist you on a fixed fee basis. What this means is that our solicitors will make you entirely aware of the costs from the get-go.

Hourly rates for our children law solicitors

Challenging matters often require additional support and guidance from a solicitor, so where your situation is more complex, we may need to charge an hourly rate. This price will be based on the solicitor assisting you.

Children Law FAQs

In this section, you will find some of the often asked questions regarding children law related issues. If you have a query that is not covered below, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My partner and I are separating, what are my rights as a parent?
Rather than considering the ‘rights’ of parents, family law talks of ‘parental responsibility’ for a child. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child but parental responsibility is only granted to a father if:

  • He is married to the child’s mother when the child is born.
  • He marries the child’s mother.
  • His child was born after 1 December 2003 and he is named on the birth certificate when the child’s birth is registered.
  • His child’s birth was registered before 1 December 2003 and he was not named on the birth certificate but the birth is re-registered to include his name with the mother’s consent.
  • He has a parental responsibility agreement with the mother.
  • He has a parental responsibility order from the court.
  • He has a residence order from the court
  • He becomes the child’s guardian.

A person with parental responsibility should be consulted on important day-to-day decisions affecting their child.

Are the rules different for adopted children?
Adopted children are treated in the same way as natural children. However, foster children are not ‘your’ children. Normally any child or children who have been placed in your care (fostered) will be removed if you are going through a separation or divorce, but this would be a matter for the local authority who placed the child with you rather than the courts.
How can I make sure matters are resolved quickly?
Ideally, you and your partner will be able to reach an agreement amongst yourselves. Whatever agreement you reach will be reviewed by the Court as part of your divorce proceedings, if you are going through that process. It will be an unsettling and very stressful time for your children so it is in their best interests that you resolve matters as quickly as possible.

If, as parents, you cannot resolve matters, you may wish to consider mediation. This can be both faster and more cost-effective than going to court, otherwise, it will be necessary to apply to the court for orders covering who a child will live with and what contact rights the other parent will be given.

Can we be given joint custody of our child / children?
Yes. If living part-time with each parent is the best solution for your child/children, the court will almost always approve this.
Can arrangements be altered if circumstances change?
Yes, you can apply to the court. If the court considers that a change is in the child’s / children’s best interests, it can grant an appropriate order.
Do other members of my family have a right to contact with my child living with my ex-partner?
No. However, the court may allow them to apply for a contact order and as long as the court considers this to be in the child’s best interests, the application is likely to succeed.
Can I stop my ex seeing my child?
It is usually considered to be in the best interests of children to have some contact with their other parent and you shouldn’t allow your own feelings for your ex-partner to influence this. However, if there is a genuine reason why it is not in their best interests to have contact, for example, if you suspect abuse, then you can apply to the court for an order to prevent contact.
What can I do if my ex will not let me see my children?
If you have not already been granted a contact order you can apply to the court for one. If you have been granted a contact order and your ex continues to stop you seeing a child, you can go back to the court. The court can then take action against your ex for breaching the order.
How do I get help with maintenance payments?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) determines the amount of maintenance the ‘non-resident parent’ must pay to support their children. If for any reason, there is a problem with non-payment then it is up to the CSA to take action to enforce the payment. Where maintenance is paid under a court order you may be able to go to court if your ex fails to pay. Depending on the circumstances, the court can grant an appropriate order: for example, requiring your ex-partner’s employer to pay the child maintenance directly to you.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors in Chelmsford

If you want to find out more about the services we can offer you, please feel free to get in touch with our family law solicitors in Chelmsford.

Call us
Main number: 01245 228106

Email us
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With Gepp Solicitors you’ll be in experienced hands. We’ll work hard to get the best possible outcome for you and your family.

With Gepp Solicitors you’ll be in experienced hands. We’ll work hard to get the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Our Family Law experts

Alison Gosling
Farhad Islam
Stuart Tyler
Elizabeth Davies
Paralegal Assistant
Jenny Powell
Legal Assistant
Alison Gosling
Elizabeth Davies
Trainee Solicitor
Farhad Islam
Jenny Powell
Legal Assistant
Stuart Tyler

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If you want to find out more about the services we can offer you, please feel free to get in touch.