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Child Arrangements

Divorce, dissolution or separation can all lead to conflict between parents where it is not possible to find a mutual agreement on where children will primarily reside and the type of contact each parent has with their child. Our solicitors can provide expert child arrangement legal advice, helping to secure the best outcome for you and your child’s needs.

At Dutton Gregory Solicitors, our child arrangement solicitors have years of collective expertise guiding clients through various types of family law matters, including divorce with children and making child arrangements, previously referred to as ‘custody of children’.

Whether you need assistance with arranging a voluntary child arrangement or applying for a court order for child arrangements, prohibited steps or a specific issue, our team of family law experts can provide the helping hand you need. 

Should you seek our assistance with your child arrangement, our family solicitors can provide a bespoke service, personalised to suit your needs. To allow us to do this, we will take the time to carefully understand your circumstances, so we can best align our advice.

Our child arrangement expertise

Our child arrangement solicitors can provide expert guidance through matters including:

  • Voluntary child arrangements
  • Child Arrangements Orders
  • Specific Issue Orders
  • Prohibited Steps Orders
  • Parental responsibility

Get in touch with our child arrangement solicitors

Our child arrangements solicitors can advise clients nationwide from our offices in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, Winchester and Woking.

To arrange an initial consultation, you can contact your nearest office using the links above or fill in our quick enquiry form and we will get back to you soon.

How our child arrangement solicitors can assist you

Voluntary child arrangements

When you separate from your spouse or partner, arrangements for children will need to be made, for example, where children primarily live and the type of contact each parent will have.

We understand the importance of co-parenting and maintaining your parent-child relationship. Our solicitors encourage our clients to do this through strategic out-of-court approaches, through private negotiation and family mediation.

Child Arrangement Orders

There are two types of Child Arrangements Orders that the court can make – a Child Arrangements ‘Live With’ Order and a Child Arrangements ‘Spend Time With’ Order. These do exactly as their names would suggest, with the live with order setting out whom the child or children live with and spend time with order setting out the time the children spend with the other parent. The court can also make a shared live with order, previously known as a shared residence order or joint custody.

In some instances, making arrangements for children can come with complications, particularly, where you and your partner can’t come to a suitable agreement between yourselves.

These types of orders are also known as ‘contact orders’, ‘residence orders’ and ‘custody’.

Our solicitors can provide assistance in challenging circumstances such as these, including applying to the court for a Child Arrangements Order. During court proceedings, our expert team can provide robust representation, helping to secure the desired outcome.

The court can make orders for direct contact, or indirect contact, which would include telephone and video calls, letters and gifts.

These orders can also include conditions around contact, such as whether there should be supervised contact, supported contact, and/or contact in a contact centre, as well as the arrangements for handover. The court can also make a ‘no contact order’ in appropriate circumstances, where they feel that contact with a party is not in the best interests of a child or may place the child at risk of harm.

Specific Issue Orders

A specific issue order can provide parents with authority to carry out certain actions in concern to their children without the other parent’s permission. This can be particularly useful in circumstances where parents are unable to agree on the upbringing of their child.

Our specialist solicitors have worked with many parents, helping them to apply to the court for a specific issue order, including where an emergency order is required.

Our team can assist with obtaining all types of specific issue orders, including:

  • Changing the child’s name
  • Having certain medical treatment
  • Religious upbringing
  • Where they will attend nursery or school
  • Whether they can be taken abroad for holiday or to move or relocate

Prohibited Steps Orders

A prohibited steps order is similar to a specific issue order, but instead of authorising a parent to carry out a certain action, it prohibits them from doing so.

At Dutton Gregory, we have a wealth of collective expertise assisting clients who require a prohibited steps order. We can also provide assistance with emergency applications.

Our solicitors can provide assistance with preventing the child from:

  • Having their name changed
  • Coming into contact with a particular person
  • Moving or going on holiday abroad
  • Moving nursery or school
  • Undergoing a medical treatment
  • Being removed from the care of the other party

Parental responsibility

Not all parents have automatic parental responsibility for their children. The birth mother automatically receives parental responsibility, but there are only certain circumstances where the other parent will, for example, when they are married to the child’s mother or if their name is on the birth certificate (this only applies to certain dates dependent on birthplace).

In addition to negotiating and assisting with Child Arrangements Orders, our specialist team can support you with determining whether you have parental responsibility. If you do not, we can assist with drafting a parental responsibility agreement. Should you be unable to make arrangements, we can assist you with applying to the family court for an order.

Court appointed Children’s Guardian

In some cases, the court can appoint a Children’s Guardian (also known as a Rule 16.4 Guardian). The purpose of the Rule 16.4 Children’s Guardian is to act on behalf of the child and be their voice in court proceedings. This can include speaking directly to the child and relaying their wishes and feelings to the court if appropriate.

Our family law team include solicitors who hold the Law Society’s Child Law Accreditation, which enables them to act on behalf of a court appointed Guardian and be the solicitor for the child. This accreditation is a recognition of a high level of expertise and knowledge demonstrated by the holder in the area of child law.

Frequently asked questions about child arrangements

What is a typical Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is a court-appointed order which determines where your child or children will primarily live and the type of contact they will have with each parent.

Typically, a Child Arrangements Order will be a 50/50 split, meaning the child or children will spend alternative weeks with each parent. However, circumstances surrounding the case can mean that the ratio is different.

Who pays for a Child Arrangements Order?

Generally speaking, both parents will be responsible for paying the legal fees involved in obtaining a child arrangement court order. However, there are some situations where one party may need to cover the costs of the other party, this is often dependent on certain factors, including conduct.

How much does it cost to get a Child Arrangements Order?

When applying to the court for a Child Arrangements Order, the application fee is £232.00. There are, however, other costs to take into consideration, for example, the costs of any expert reports or disbursements which may apply, such as drug or alcohol testing or a contact centre, and/or Barrister’s costs.

Find out more about our child arrangement fees.

How long does a Child Arrangements Order take in court?

Should you need to seek the assistance of the court, the length of time it can take for an outcome entirely depends on the complexity of the situation, the amicability of those involved and whether there are any safeguarding concerns for the child or children.

Why choose our child arrangements solicitors?

Real relationships of value

When you work with our solicitors, you can be confident they will always be friendly and approachable. We strive to create long-lasting professional relationships, always being there to help you in your time of need. 

Personal Service

We personalise our service to suit you and your needs, and we do this by taking the time to carefully understand your situation and the type of support you require.

Solicitors you can rely on

At Dutton Gregory, we are proud to be acknowledged for the excellent service that we provide clients nationally and internationally from our offices across Surrey, Dorset and Hampshire. Our approach to child law matters is always completely empathetic and understanding of the sensitivity that often surrounds them.

Our team work closely with you, ensuring every detail of your legal matter is handled correctly and, should you have any queries or concerns, we will always be available to answer them.

Award winning and nationally accredited

Our team of solicitors include a published family law author, award winners and nationally recognised and accredited professionals. We can boast a previous Hampshire Law Society Solicitor of the Year, a Sears 500 recognised solicitor and The Law Society’s Child Law, Family Law and Advanced Family Law Accreditations.

As well as providing legal advice, our family law solicitors are confident and capable advocates, meaning that they will be able to support you throughout your journey, from the initial meeting and throughout any court process.

Our child arrangement services’ fees

At Dutton Gregory, we recognise that legal fees can often be a daunting prospect. To help ease the worry and keep stress levels to a minimum, our firm offers a range of funding options which will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case.

Get in touch with our child arrangement solicitors

Our child arrangements solicitors can advise clients nationwide from our offices in Bournemouth, Chandler’s Ford, Poole, Winchester and Woking.

To arrange an initial consultation, you can contact your nearest office using the links above or fill in our quick enquiry form and we will get back to you soon.