Divorce, civil partnership dissolution and separation can be incredibly stressful for children if not handled sensitively. As a parent, it is easy to feel guilty about the impact of your separation on your children. However, with the right support, they will quickly be able to bounce back and settle into their new routine.

At Stephen Rimmer, our friendly, approachable children law solicitors are here to help your family find positive resolutions after divorce or dissolution. We can provide all the advice you need to make a suitable arrangement for your children that puts their happiness and welfare first. Our advice covers all children and separation related issues, from advice about residence and contact to agreeing child maintenance payments.

We are members of the Law Society Children Law Accreditation scheme for our highly regarded skills in this area. We are also members of the Family Mediation Accreditation scheme for our dedication to helping families find constructive resolutions to what are often daunting and emotional matters.

Book a free 30-minute consultation with our child law solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

We offer a free, no obligation 30-minute chat with one of our specialist child law solicitors to all new clients.

To arrange your initial consultation, you can:

How we can help with arrangements for children

We can help you with matters such as:

  • Making a Parenting Plan with your former partner about matters such as:
    • Where your children will live most of the time
    • How much contact they will have with their non-resident parent and other relatives such as grandparents
  • Agreeing key decisions about their upbringing, such as:
    • Where they will go to school
    • Whether they should have a religious education
    • Whether either parent can change their surname
    • Whether either parent can take them abroad on holiday or to live
  • Agreeing child maintenance payments or applying to the Child Maintenance Service
  • Applying for a range of child related court orders, including:
    • Child Arrangements Orders – about where children should live and how contact should be arranged
    • Specific Issue Orders – to answer key questions about their upbringing
    • Prohibited Steps Orders – to prevent a parent from making a particular decision about the children (such as a decision to take a child overseas)

One of the first questions we often get asked by our clients is, will I have to go to court? With our advice and guidance, the answer is probably not – at least not in any meaningful way that would involve your children.

If you can come to an agreement with your former partner between yourselves or using a method of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, court is unlikely to be necessary. The only interaction will be if you want to make your agreement legally binding (allowing you to enforce it in court if your former partner does not stick to it); in this case, we can help you apply to court to turn your agreement into a Consent Order.

Family mediation

Our team includes qualified mediators who can help you sort out arrangements for children in a friendly, neutral environment. We have particular expertise in matters involving children. Our Solicitors are members of Resolution, a network of family law professionals dedicated to helping families find positive solutions and avoid court.

Mediation involves attending a series of informal meetings with your former partner and a qualified mediator to negotiate resolutions to family law issues. The mediator does not take sides or judge your case; their role is to guide your discussions and make the process of sorting out arrangements for children as simple and stress-free as possible.

For more information, visit our Family Mediation page.

Family court proceedings

It is not always possible to sort out matters out of court. If you cannot come to an agreement with your former partner – for example, because they will not engage with sensible discussions or because you have a special reason why out-of-court negotiation is not appropriate – we can provide advice about applying to court.

We take a child-centred approach to try to minimise the impact on your children and to reduce the stress of the situation for you. We can act on your behalf in all court hearings and have a strong success rate for achieving positive outcomes.

Arrangements for children FAQs

What are the different types of court orders for children?

For divorced or separated parents, making decisions together can come with complications, and with this, disputes often arise. There are three court orders that can been put in place, which are:

  • Child arrangement order – A child arrangement order sets out who is responsible for the child in question, where the child will live and how frequently each parent will see or have contact with the child.
  • Specific issue order – A specific issue order allows one of the caregivers to do an action without the other parent’s permission. For example, this could be changing the child’s surname or taking them out of the country.
  • Prohibited steps order – A prohibited steps order is similar to a specific issue order. However, the difference is that it is an order prohibiting the other caregiver from doing a certain action, such as removing the child from their school or moving them to another part of the country.

How long does a court order for children last?

The time frame for how long a court order lasts depends on the type of court order being applied for and the circumstances surrounding it.

For a child arrangement order, this will last until the child in question turns 18, unless stated otherwise. Whereas a specific issue order and a prohibited steps order can vary. For example, if it is prohibited for the child to move school, this will be in place until they finish their education. Most SIO and PSO orders last until the child turns 16 years of age, but some can last until the child turns 18.

Who can apply for a child related court order?

For someone to apply for a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order, they must have parental responsibility for the child in question. However, slightly different rules apply when it concerns a child arrangement order. Anyone from a parent, guardian, stepparent, and grandparent can apply for a child arrangement order.

How long does it take to get a child related court order?

There is no set time frame in place for how long a child related court order will take to be set into motion. However, the most usual time frame tends to be between six to 12 months. If there is a concern for the child’s welfare, the court will take this into consideration and opt for urgent court proceedings to start.

What happens if a child related court order is broken?

Child related court orders are legally binding, which means that it should be properly followed without being broken. Should one be breached by either parent/guardian, that person is then liable to receive a penalty which will be decided by the court, such as:

  • Ordering a compensation payment for any financial losses
  • Imposing a fine
  • Imposing an unpaid work requirement
  • Imposing an enforcement order or suspended enforcement order
  • Prison sentence
  • Referral to family mediation or another related programme
  • Amendment of the court order

Book a free 30-minute consultation with our child law solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

We offer a free, no obligation 30-minute chat with one of our specialist child law solicitors to all new clients.

To arrange your initial consultation, you can:

Contact us for a free 30 minute interview

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