Your Children are our number one priority
Childrens Law Solicitors, Court Orders, Grandparents rights
MKM Children's Law solicitors are experts in child law, divorce and all family law matters. This is a complex area of law that can change rapidly to reflect modern lifestyles.
Our services include:
- Adoption and name changes
- Residence and Contact orders, these define where a child will live and how much time he/she shall spend with the other parent.
- Child mediation
- Domestic violence and children
- Grandparent’s rights
- International child relocation
- International child abduction
Our solicitors provide legal advice and representation regarding children to both parents and wider family members.
Disputes concerning children can be some of the most challenging issues that families and the courts have to face.
To speak to one of our highly skilled family solicitors about your matter or about costs please call 02891270000
The welfare of a child is always the paramount consideration for family courts. Court proceedings should always be used as a last resort. Our solicitors can help to guide you through the best options for you and your child.
Why Choose MKM Family Law Children’s Solicitors?
Every family is different so we take great care in matching the circumstances of each case with the right solicitor’s specialist skills.
Our dedicated children’s law department, lead by Sinead Polley, has a wealth of experience in complex children’s law cases. We can advise on the most cost-effective ways to proceed with child-related cases and we will work closely with you throughout the case from initial meeting to final outcome.
All MKM Family Law Solicitors are accredited members of the Children Order Panel.
We are experienced in assisting parents and guardians on the legal options for parental responsibility, contact and residence of children, plus Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders.
In cases where Social Services are involved, we can provide pragmatic advice and representation for parents. MKM Children's Law Solicitors have experience in dealing with all types of Public Order cases from Care proceedings, to Adoption and Secure Accommodation cases.
We can also assist in Private Law proceedings, covering all issues related to adoption.
WHAT CLIENTS SAY?
KIND WORDS FROM MY LOVELY CLIENTS
"Just a wee note to say a big thank you for all your help these past six years. Greatly appreciated"
"A quick note to express my sincere thanks for all the hard work put in and guidance you gave during my residency case. I know I would not have gained the positive result I did without your support "
"Thank you for making the process stress free and as easy as possible. It's very much appreciated. Best Wishes"
"I just want to thank you on my behalf and my family for supporting me throughout this ordeal. You have been so attentive. The time and effort you put in on my behalf until the end is truly appreciated. It has been a hard year for me but I'm looking forward to better days ahead. Take Care."
Frequently Asked Questions
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.
A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s:
- married to the child’s mother
- listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)
You can apply for parental responsibility if you don’t automatically have it.
If the birth is registered in Northern Ireland, a father has parental responsibility if he’s married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
If a father marries the mother after the child’s birth, he has parental responsibility if he lives in Northern Ireland at the time of the marriage.
An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he’s named, or becomes named, on the child’s birth certificate (from 15 April 2002). If a child is born overseas and comes to live in the UK, parental responsibility depends on the UK country they’re now living in.
Same-sex partners who were civil partners at the time of the treatment will both have parental responsibility.
For same-sex partners who aren’t civil partners, the 2nd parent can get parental responsibility by either:
- applying for parental responsibility if a parental agreement was made
- becoming a civil partner of the other parent and making a parental responsibility agreement or jointly registering the birth
Apply for parental responsibility
If you’re not the mother, you can apply to court to get parental responsibility. You need to be connected to the child, e.g. as their father, step-parent or 2nd female parent. More than 2 people can have parental responsibility for the same child.
- Sign a parental responsibility agreement -If you’re a father who wants parental responsibility and the mother agrees, fill in a parental responsibility agreement. There’s a different agreement form for step parents. Take the agreement to your local county court or family proceedings court, where it can be signed and witnessed.
- Apply for a court order- If you want parental responsibility but can’t agree on arrangements with the mother, you can apply for a court order.
You may be able to get help with court fees if you’re on benefits or a low income.
Parental Responsibility obtained by a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order only lasts for as long as that Order remains in force. A person who has Parental Responsibility through one of these Court Orders will lose it when the Order expires. Parental Responsibility cannot be taken away from a parent who has it automatically; except through an Adoption Order.
The Court can remove a parent’s or stepparent’s Parental Responsibility if that has been acquired through a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Parental Responsibility Order. However, it’s rare for a Court to do this, and the circumstances where this might be appropriate are exceptional.
Otherwise, Parental Responsibility may not be removed, surrendered or transferred. It may, however, be delegated. This means a person with Parental Responsibility can arrange for another person to meet some or all aspects of it in relation to a child. This can prove useful, for example, if a child or children are being educated in England but the parents live overseas. The parents might decide to delegate Parental Responsibility to a family member or to a trusted adult in England whilst the child is at school here.
With parental responsibility, you have the right to be involved in all major decisions in your child life. This can be anything that significantly affects their upbringing such as education, medical treatment or religion.
Everyday decisions are left up to the parent who has residence of the children. Generally, the mother is given residence unless you or the courts decide differently. This means that she does not have to consult you about any day-to-day decisions.
As a parent, you are legally bound to Pay Child Support. The amount that you pay is worked out by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and will depend on a number of things including how much you earn and how you have split custody.
You may decide to organise your visitation independently with your ex, and this is fine as long as you are both happy with the arrangement. If not, you will need to apply for a contact order and be assessed to determine what visitation you are given.
If your ex has residence of your children, she can take them out of the country for up to one month without your permission. If she wants to take them for longer or move abroad permanently, she will need your consent. If you have serious concerns about her taking them out of the country, then you can apply for an order to stop it.
Your parental responsibility and child support continues until your child leaves school or further education, which can be as young as 16 or finish when they are 19 and at a university.
Finding out about your rights and responsibilities as a father is important so that you know what you are entitled to and what you need to do. If you can keep relations civil and handle the details with your ex then this can be better but, if not, you will have to go through the legal system to clarify things. Your ex has no right to stop you seeing your children and with a little bit of compromise and willingness, you can both come to an agreement that is best for your children.
The legal system recognises the importance of grandparents and offers an opportunity to apply through the court system for a contact order if necessary. Grandparents do not have an automatic right to make that application and you would have to apply to the court for permission to do so but provided that you it can be shown that the grandparent has had a meaningful and close relationship with the grandchildren then the court is likely to grant permission to be able to pursue an application for contact.
Change of Name
When a family’s circumstances change, it is not uncommon for parents to want those changes to be recognised. When a parent remarries, we are sometimes asked if a child’s surname can be changed to recognise the new family composition; such as adding a stepparent’s surname to the existing one, or using it in place of the existing surname.
If a child’s name is changed without the consent of everybody with Parental Responsibility, a Court can, and often will, reverse the change. It is therefore vital to seek expert legal advice before attempts are made to change a child’s name.
Where parents disagree about whether a child’s name should be changed, an application may be made to the Court. The type of application will depend on who is making it. The parent wishing the change a child’s name can apply for a Specific Issue Order. The parent opposing the name change would apply for a Prohibited Steps Order.
Any Children's Law Questions? Just ask me on the form below. I will get back to you asap- Sinead