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Family Law

Children Law Solicitors

Jacqueline Major
Jacqueline Major
Partner
Manisha Raja
Manisha Raja
Partner
Vanessa Friend
Vanessa Friend
Partner
Rebecca Coates
Rebecca Coates
Senior Associate
Hannah Yellop
Hannah Yellop
Associate
Abigail Neal
Abigail Neal
Paralegal
Jessica Wells
Jessica Wells
Paralegal

It’s always best if arrangements for children can be made directly between the parents. If this is possible, our specialist family law solicitors can draft a Parenting Plan setting out the agreements reached and, where appropriate, a draft Order for the court’s approval.

If you need help in reaching a solution our expert children lawyers can guide you through the options including: solicitors’ correspondence, mediation and arbitration, roundtable meetings and other forms of dispute resolution.

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Divorce & separation: children arrangements

Sometimes it may be necessary to issue a court application. In all cases we’ll ensure you maintain the strongest possible co-parenting relationship. We always prioritise the best interests of your children. Our children law solicitors have extensive experience in all areas of children law proceedings, including complex cases where there are serious allegations of abuse and the involvement of agencies, such as Social Services.

There are three main Orders available through the court under the Children Act 1989 to deal with disputes about children:

Child Arrangements Order

A Child Arrangements Order deals with the issues which previously used to be called Residence and Custody. The Order sets out:

  • With whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact
  • When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any other person including telephone and letter contact
  • Whether contact should be supervised.

Prohibited Steps Orders

A Prohibited Steps Order is used to limit when certain parental rights and duties can be exercised, for example, preventing a child from being removed from their school or being taken abroad. Once a Prohibited Steps Order is made the other parent is prevented from taking that step without the consent of the court.

Specific Issue Order

If you can’t agree on a decision relating to your child’s care, aside from contact and who they live with, you will have to issue an application for a Specific Issue Order.

"They were very prompt and efficient and always kept me informed. The service was nothing short of excellent."

These applications can deal with issues including:

  • Which school the child should attend
  • Whether the child should have medical treatment
  • What surname the child should use
  • Whether a child can go on holiday abroad
  • Whether a parent should be able to move abroad permanently with a child, which is often called Leave to Remove, or relocate within England & Wales.

We specialise in cases dealing with relocation and Leave to Remove, which require careful preparation whether acting for the parent who wishes to move or the parent opposing this. We regularly successfully act for parents wishing to move to Asia, Australia and Europe.

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?

Leaders in the field

We’re highly regarded specialists and independently recognised as leaders in the field of Family Law by the Legal 500, 2024 and Chambers UK 2024, who highlight the team as being ‘particularly known for its very high levels of client service.’

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Award winning firm

The firm has won several awards in recent years. Latest awards – The Lawyer’s London Law Firm of the Year and LexisNexis Legal Award – The Law Firm of the Year 2019.

Focus on Out of Court settlement

Our aim is always to resolve disputes outside court by way of agreement. We can offer mediation and collaborative options, although in our experience, solicitor-led negotiation most often results in successful agreement.

"The family team at HJA is unique in London. The team has strength in depth across all areas of family law. Jacqueline Major has hand picked a team of lawyers who work cohesively. Together the team at HJA is a force to be reckoned with." - Legal 500, 2024

"I have received excellent advice from Hodge Jones & Allen and the support staff have been very supportive throughout the process. They understand the human side of the matter and go out of their way to assist." - Chambers UK, 2024

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How much does a specialist family lawyer cost?

There is no one size fits all approach and the cost would depend on your individual circumstances.
We’ll take the time to get to fully understand your situation and needs, so our lawyers can provide you with a clear cost estimate, with transparency about the approach to costs.

For most Family Law matters, we would be able to offer a fixed consultation fee for £400 + VAT. We would ask for documentation and information from you beforehand, assess your case, and advise you of your position and the best course of action. You will also be able to ask all of your key questions at that meeting.

Book your consultation with one of our leading Family Law solicitors
0808 271 9413
or request a call back.
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Frequently asked questions

What are the principles the court will use when deciding cases concerning children?

When making any decision, the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child.

The court will always give the following three principles the highest priority:

  • The child’s welfare is of paramount importance
  • The court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child
  • The court shall not make an Order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the children than making no Order at all.

Does the court have any other criteria's that they follow?

The court will also have regard to the following criteria, which is called the Welfare Checklist:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding)
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect on the child of any change in his/her circumstances
  • The child’s age, sex, background, and any other characteristic which the court considers relevant
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • How capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs
  • The range of powers available to the court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.

What is the Court Fee for issuing an application under the Children Act 1989?

The court fee to issue an application is £215. (June 2019)

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is defined in the Children Act 1989 as “all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority that, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.”

In practice, a person with parental responsibility is entitled to have a say in key decisions about a child’s life, such as:

  • What name they should have
  • Where they should go to school
  • What religion the child should have, if any
  • Whether they should have medical treatment
  • Dealing with their money or property.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth and will not lose it if she separates from the father or divorces. Married fathers automatically have parental responsibility and will not lose it if they divorce.

Unmarried fathers do not automatically have parental responsibility. However they can acquire it in a number of ways.

We frequently advise parents and individuals, including step parents and grandparents, who wish to obtain parental responsibility.

I'm in a same-sex partnership, do I have parental responsibility?

Same-sex partners will both have parental responsibility if they were civil partners at the time of the child’s conception, if this was after 6 April 2009 e.g. donor insemination or fertility treatment.

For same-sex partners who are not civil partners, the 2nd parent can consider obtaining parental responsibility.

Exercising Parental Responsibility

You do not always need to get the consent of the other parent for routine decisions relating to parental responsibility, even if they also have parental responsibility.

If it’s a major decision – for example, one of you wants to move abroad with the children – all individuals with parental responsibility must give their consent or it will be necessary to apply to court for a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order

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"They were very professional and always listened to my needs. They were very prompt and efficient and always kept me informed. The service was nothing short of excellent."

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