Independently recognised solicitors for children
Few negotiations are more sensitive than those surrounding child disputes. Our specialist family solicitors have many years of experience. In fact they’re independently recognised for their expertise. Our team even includes Law Society Children Panel specialists, so you know you’re in the very best of hands.
Royds Withy King Family Department are highly recommended in the “The Times Best Law Firms” 2019 survey
Our children solicitors’ approach is to help separating parents put their children’s needs first. We aim to quickly and sensitively achieve the best result for you and your children whatever your situation – by helping you with:
Securing an agreement for child maintenance can sometimes be a particularly contentious issue. We have the legal expertise to ensure that the fair amount is paid to help contribute towards necessary living costs. For more information on how we can help you with a dispute involving child maintenance contact our team today, or find out more below.
Arrangements for your children
Wherever possible, our children solicitors encourage you as parents to make your own arrangements for your children. After all, you know them best. However, sometimes an agreement cannot be reached. If this is the case, contact us now to help you understand how to obtain a court order for various child issues or find out more below.
Social services and care proceedings
These are complex and stressful for all involved – particularly the children – and there’s almost always a difference of opinion between the natural parents. Our children solicitors have the experience and judgement to make sure that your views are always represented strongly and clearly. Find out more below.
‘Ideally you’ll be able to agree payments with your partner, but sadly this isn’t always the case’
Child maintenance is usually paid by the parent who does not have the most of the day-to-day care of the children to the parent or care-giver who does have the most of the day-to-day care of the children. Generally speaking, a child is defined as being under the age of 16, or under 20 and still in full-time education (A levels or equivalent).
If you and your partner are unable to agree the level of maintenance payments an application can be made to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) who will decide how much the payments should be. In some exceptional circumstances (eg. if a child has a disability) an application can be made to the court and we can expertly guide you through this.
How do child maintenance payments work?
The CMS charge for their involvement and base their calculations on the paying party’s gross income. You may get free and impartial advice from Child Maintenance Options by calling their free Helpline on 0800 988 0988 or visiting their website.
Advice on custody arrangements with your child’s best interests at its core
‘For the children’s sake, we always encourage parents to reach an agreement between themselves’
As a parent you know your child’s needs better than any court. That’s why whenever it comes down to a dispute over where a chid lives or who they get to see, we always encourage you and your partner or spouse to reach an agreement, rather than have a decision imposed on you by a judge. Litigation is an uncertain process and one over which you have little control, so you should see it as a last resort.
We have many years’ experience of providing advice in respect of living and contact arrangements and successfully helping parents to avoid unnecessary and stressful court action.
The main benefits of mediation
Family mediation is less formal and intimidating than the court process and the decisions ultimately rest with the parents. Our specialist family solicitors and mediators will help you reach an agreement outside the court, bringing benefits for all involved.
Understanding the court process
If your only remaining option is to go through the courts, then our solicitors can guide you through each stage of the process. This will help you to reach a solution for you and your children with the minimum of stress.
Parents can’t always agree about what’s best for their children – so disputes can arise which affect everyone involved. For example, you might fundamentally disagree about your children’s welfare, ranging from who they live with or have contact with, to the school they attend or whether they can leave the UK on holiday. Seeking a court order is sometimes the only way forward and our experienced solicitors will be happy to advise you if this is the case for you and guide you through the process.
Social services and child care solicitors
‘Significant stress and anguish can be avoided if child care proceedings are handled sensitively and professionally’
Nobody wants to separate children from their natural parents. However, the Local Authority need to protect vulnerable children and this almost always puts them in conflict with parents. This makes child care proceedings complex and stressful, particularly for children. In these situations, it’s important that you’re represented by one of our experienced child care solicitors.
The different elements of child care proceedings
Our specialist solicitors are here to guide you through the stages and processes of a frequently complex child care system:
Duties of social services
The Local Authority will normally start off with an assessment of the parents’ ability to care for the child. Perhaps the child can be placed with the extended family? The court will appoint a guardian to represent the child’s interests and will often get expert opinions from a child psychologist or psychiatrist. A care order will only be issued if the children cannot be protected in any other way.
Final care order
A final care order can have a big effect on your life – and that of your child – so you should always ask for advice from a child care solicitor. However, you needn’t worry about the cost because public funding is available for all parents in child care proceedings. Before anything else happens the local authority usually sends out a letter to invite the parents to a pre-proceedings meeting. It’s vital that you respond and take a solicitor along with you because professional advice and guidance can often help you understand the issues and help you find ways of resolving them.
Frequently asked questions about children’s law
I cannot reach an agreement with my ex partner regarding our children. What steps can I take?
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex partner, it may that you are able to negotiate matters via solicitors. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement for the arrangements moving forward, you are required to attend mediation, before proceeding with an application to the Court. There are certain exemptions to mediation and one of our specialists can advise if the exemption is applicable in your case.
We have tried mediation but this didn’t work, what is the next step?
If matters cannot be agreed in mediation, you, or if requested, your solicitor, can be sent the necessary paper work to make an application to the Court for an order. The Family Court can
make various orders in respect of a child’s welfare including:
- Child Arrangement Order; setting with whom a child should live;
- Child arrangement order; setting out what time a child should spend with the person with whom they do not live
- Prohibited Steps Order; preventing a parent from allowing certain things to happen in respect of the child
- Specific Issue Order; orders deciding certain issues, such as what school a child should attend or medical treatment.
What type of things will a court consider when reviewing our case?
When the Court is reaching a decision, it must take into account various factors under what is known as the ‘welfare checklist.’
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding)
- Their physical, emotional and/or educational needs
- The likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances
- Their age, sex, background and any characteristics of which the court considers relevant;
- Any harm which they have suffered or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each of their parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs.
One of our specialist solicitors can advise on your specific circumstances and the steps the Court are likely to take.
The Family Team's Credentials
“What the team is known for: Highly experienced at taking on financial remedy cases. Focuses on settling issues through collaboration or mediation where possible, and through litigation if necessary. Active representing guardians in public law care proceedings. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “They are highly skilled and committed professionals who work incredibly hard and diligently for their clients.” “They provided an excellent service in a very straightforward and non-technical way.” Notable practitioners: Richard Ellis (Band 2) enjoys a strong reputation for his public children expertise, and is also skilled at taking on matrimonial finance cases. He is hailed by one commentator as “phenomenally good and a great advocate.” Sharon MacDonald (Band 3) frequently represents high net worth clients on alternative dispute resolution proceedings, such as mediation and collaborative law, associated with complicated finance matters. One client reports: “She was very thorough – all the paperwork was correct down to the minutest detail. She obtained a wonderful result for me.” Jon Toogood (Eminent Practitioner) handles matrimonial finance issues in the context of divorce cases, and is a skilled arbitrator and collaborative lawyer. One client praises his “excellent technical knowledge, very good commercial awareness and very good bedside manner.” Katherine Lauder is a Recognised Practitioner.” Chambers 2017 South West
“What the team is known for: Well-known team in the Oxford market, with substantial experience in divorce and financial remedy matters involving complex assets. Also advises on public law children cases, including those involving allegations of non-accidental injury. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “A really good outfit, and universally likeable.” Notable practitioners: Mark Phillips (Band 3) is experienced advising in divorce and financial remedy matters, especially those involving complex assets such as pensions and business interests. One source says of him: “He is very intellectually able, and has a pleasant, persuasive way about him.” Head of the Oxfordshire family team Simon Bassett (Band 3) is particularly active in matrimonial finance cases. One source reports: “I’ve been really impressed with his ability to think creatively around the financial cases, and to look for solutions that aren’t obvious.”” Chambers 2017 Oxford and Surrounds
“Royds Withy King is ‘one of Bath’s leading family law firms’ for collaborative law and mediation, and department head Richard Ellis has ‘a fantastic reputation’ in care proceedings. Also recommended are Sharon MacDonald and Jon Toogood, and newly promoted senior associates Katherine Lauder and Rebecca Stevens.” Legal 500 2016 South West
Simon Bassett is ‘a consistent high performer, particularly in matrimonial finance’. Legal 500 2016 South East