21 February 2023

Helpful legal advice for children issues

10 mins read

Read below to find out what legal proceedings you need to go through regarding children. With specialist solicitors who have expert knowledge in all areas surrounding children issues, we can assist and provide advice on:

  • Divorce and children matters
  • Parental rights and responsibilities
  • Prohibited Steps order
  • Specific issues order
  • Removal of a child from jurisdiction
  • Special Guardianship Order
  • What happens to my child if I die?
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1. Children matters within divorce proceedings

  1. Child Arrangements Order
  2. The First Hearing before the Family Court
  3. Final Hearing
  4. The Court’s Approach

It is vital at the time of divorce that children in the marriage are not forgotten. Most parents will agree the arrangements for the children when they divorce. Where the parents cannot agree, the courts can become involved and will decide what arrangements are in the best interests of the children.

We can help in the negotiation of an agreement between the parties regarding the children and if this is not possible to achieve then we will assist you in making the relevant applications to the court.

See our law proceedings for children matters below.


Lodge Application with the Family Court

  • Court fee of £255
  • Completed Form C100
  • Completed Form C1A (if applicable)
  • MIAM Certificate (unless exempt)

Notice of Proceedings

(Typically 4-6 weeks after lodging the Application(s) with the Court)

  • Upon allocation the Court is likely to list a Gatekeeping Hearing to consider matters furthers, in light of CAFCASS’ Initial Safeguarding Letter.
  • CAFCASS will be directed to file and serve their initial Safeguarding Letter (normally 3 days prior to the Gatekeeping Hearing).

CAFCASS Initial Safeguarding Letter

  • CAFCASS will undertake checks with the Police, Social Services and their own records.
  • CAFCASS will contact you regarding the proceedings and discuss with you your views and concerns you may have about your ex-partner.
  • CAFCASS will make recommendations to the Court regarding what should be considered at the Gatekeeping Hearing.
  • CAFCASS’ initial Safeguarding Letter will be disclosed normally 3 days prior to the Gatekeeping Hearing.

Directions Hearing/ DRA/FHDRA/FFH

  • Where a FFH is required, this will be convened for the Court to establish the “facts” for the purposes of the case.
  • Court will review all evidence disclosed currently.
  • In the event a settlement cannot be agreed, then the Court will attempt to limit the outstanding issues and list a further Directions Hearing or a DRA.
  • In the event that the issues outstanding are limited, then a Final Hearing will be listed.

Common Directions by the Court

  • CAFCASS to undertake a s7 Report.
  • Exchange of written Statements of Evidence.
  • Disclosure from GP’s regarding medical records.
  • Hair strand testing for alcohol and/or illicit substances.
  • Interim Contact, either contact in the community at specified times/dates or Supervised contact through a contact centre or trusted third party.
  • Fact Finding Hearing (FFH) listed.

Gatekeeping Hearing

  • Normally takes place about 6-8 weeks after receiving the Notice of Proceedings.
  • Court will consider CAFCASS’ recommendations within their Safeguarding Letter and make further directions.
  • Neither party will need to attend the hearing.
  • The Court Order following the hearing will be received approximately 3-5 weeks after the hearing –the next hearing will be either a Directions Hearing, Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA) or a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA).

Common Directions by the Court

  • CAFCASS to undertake an Addendum Report.
  • Exchange of a further written Statement.
  • Parties attendance at a Separated Parents Information Program (SPIP).
  • Exchange of Position Statements regarding proposal for future child arrangements.

Final Hearing

  • A Final Hearing will commonly be listed for either 1-2 days, dependent on the complexity of the matter.
  • Parties will be directed to provide oral evidence and will be cross-examined.
  • CAFCASS along with any other applicable expert, will be present to give evidence and to be cross-examined, if directed to attend by the Court.
  • The Court will consider all the evidence within the case and make a Final Order that it is in the best interest of the child(ren)

Child Arrangements Order

The First Hearing before the Family Court

Final Hearing

The Court’s Approach

2. Child maintenance

Child maintenance is financial support to help with a child’s everyday living costs and includes items such as food and clothing. It is usually the parent who does not have the day to day care of a child who is responsible for making child maintenance payments to the other parent.

Child maintenance can make a real difference to children as it can help pay for essentials items. It can also help to keep both parents involved with their children’s lives. Whatever type of maintenance arrangement you put in place, it is important to remember that it can help to give a child the best start in life.

It is also important to remember that paying child maintenance for your child is a legal responsibility.

Many families choose to arrange between themselves, by agreeing the amount and type of child maintenance that one will pay to the other. Our solicitors at Kew Law are here to help you work out such an arrangement.

If you cannot agree, or if an arrangement between parents is not working, there are other ways to arrange child maintenance. You could apply to the child maintenance service, which can set up an arrangement for you. We can assist you through the process.

Where parties are attempting to work out the arrangements for children and the payments which need to be made as part of the breakdown of a marriage, we can help you negotiate a child maintenance arrangement as part of a financial agreement, or we can act for you in financial proceedings where a settlement cannot be achieved, and where the payment of child maintenance will be decided upon.

3. Parental rights and responsibilities

  1. What do we mean by parental responsibility?
  2. How is parental responsibility lost?
  3. Applying to the courts for parental responsibility
  4. Alternatives to Court Proceedings

Unlike the mother of a child, where a couple are not married fathers do not automatically acquire parental responsibility. With more and more children being born outside marriage, there is greater uncertainty amongst parents about the legal responsibility they may have for their children.

What do we mean by parental responsibility?

How is parental responsibility lost?

Applying to the courts for parental responsibility

Alternatives to Court Proceedings

4. Prohibitive Steps Order

As a parent you can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A Prohibited Steps Order is an Order whereby the Court can prohibit one parent from taking a certain action in respect of the child/children’s upbringing, e.g., to prohibit a parent from removing a child from school, changing a child’s surname, or making a specific trip with the other parent and which also prohibits a party from exercising their parental responsibility. For initial advice, our specialist children law specialists can talk to you about your concerns and can advise you on the detail of your proposed application.

5. Specific Issue Order

As a parent you can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. A Specific Issue Order is a type of Court order granted by the Court which determines how a dispute over a child’s upbringing or wellbeing should be resolved. An application of this nature may determine a child’s religion, whether the child should have a specific medical procedure or where the child should attend school. Should you discuss any difficulties you are experiencing in agreeing on welfare considerations with the other party, you should not hesitate to contact one of our specialist family solicitors.

6. Removal of a child from this jurisdiction

Kew Law LLP Solicitors can provide advice on children matters and child abduction. When a relationship comes to an end the children can often be quite vulnerable especially if the parents could potentially return to different countries. If you are worried that your child may be taken out of the UK against your consent, then our family law solicitors can help. Often, we need to act quickly to protect the children and prevent removal of the child from this jurisdiction. If your child has already been taken against your consent, our solicitors can help resolve the situation.

At Kew Law, we have the knowledge and the know-how to help advise parents on what steps to take if their child is removed from the country without consent, or if they fear this might happen.

7. Special Guardianship

Our solicitors provide representation to foster carers, relatives and family or friends who wish to obtain advice on special guardianship. We will explain the process to you and discuss your options in applying for special guardianship as opposed to adoption or residence. This order is very unique as it allows you as the carer to exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of the parents whilst still maintaining the child’s legal links with his parents. We represent many foster carers and family members who are supported by the local authority to make such applications to Court, and we will not only provide the advice you need but will be happy to make the application to the court on your behalf and represent at court if necessary.

8. What happens to my child if I die?

Careful planning for your children upon your death is something that we suggest that every parent should consider and in particular the following two questions:

  • What will I leave my children?
  • Who will care for my children when I am gone?

If your children are under the age of 18 it is important that you consider who will care for them upon your death. Although the surviving parent will automatically become the guardian of the children on the death of the other parent (providing the surviving parent has parental responsibility), it is also possible to appoint a guardian for a child in the event of both parents’ death. The appointed guardian will be granted parental responsibility and then assume the day to day care of the child.

Our solicitors at Kew Law LLP can talk to you about appointing a guardian in a will and the rights and responsibilities of a testamentary guardian. If you are a parent who does not have parental responsibility for your child and have concerns for your child if the other parent were to die, we can talk to you concerning your options.

Looking for help & advice for children’s legal issues?

Not to worry, our expert solicitors at Kew Law can help you with the legal process and give helpful advice. Simply contact us here to start your consultation.

Ready to take the next step?

Get in touch with a member of our family law team.

Book your Initial Consultation

0800 987 8156