We listen. We care. We know child law.
Family is everything and the hardest part of a divorce can be when children are involved. It can be complicated working your way through children’s law issues which is why you need an expert team on your side.
Our highly specialist child law solicitors will sensitively guide and support you through the legal process, keeping your children’s best interests at heart while protecting your relationship with them.
Every family and situation is different, so we carefully and tactfully tailor our approach to help parents, grandparents, and other family members resolve the emotional issues surrounding all child law matters. This includes child arrangements, child relocation, child abduction, grandparents’ rights, and childcare proceedings.
We’re here to help you and your children.
Contact our child law solicitors in Northwich, Cheshire
Frequently asked questions about child law
What child arrangements do we need to consider?
When parents separate and there are children involved, there are lots of different decisions to make. This includes where your children will live, what time they will spend with each of you, what happens about their education and schooling, and other aspects of their upbringing.
It is common for parents to share the care of their children and reach an agreement on a parenting plan through negotiation, mediation, or other alternative dispute-resolution processes. However, where this is not possible, or such an approach is inappropriate for your circumstances, it may be necessary to apply to a court for a Child Arrangements Order.
Find out about our expertise with child arrangements
What is child custody?
Child custody law determines who is responsible for the care and charge of a child after a divorce or separation. It may also include rules about when a specific party mentioned in the agreement has the right to visit or spend time with the child or children.
It is always in the children’s best interests that these questions are resolved as quickly as possible, giving them certainty and stability. At Susan Howarth & Co, we can help you reach an amicable agreement on child arrangements with your former partner, or we can assist with applying for a Child Arrangements Order. Whatever approach is needed, we will ensure your children and your role as their parent is protected.
What happens if we disagree about our children’s upbringing?
Sadly, it is not uncommon for there to be disputes over children’s upbringing. This might be over a single issue, such as their education or religious instruction, or it may be more widespread. Whatever the matters in dispute, it is advisable to resolve them as quickly as possible in the best way for your children’s well-being.
Negotiation and mediation can be very effective ways of dealing with disputes over children, but turning to the courts is sometimes necessary. Applying for a Specific Issues Order means a court will decide how a particular aspect of a child’s upbringing will be dealt with, providing a definitive outcome. Our team can give expert guidance on your options and see you through the entire process.
Can my ex move my children away?
Moving home with children after a separation is often a cause of tension and disagreement between parents. While moving can be in the children’s best interests, it can also disrupt their relationship with their other parent. Depending on the circumstances, the other parent may need to give their consent or if this cannot be secured, it may be necessary to seek permission from a family court.
Our children's law solicitors can help with negotiations between parents over child relocation. We can also assist you with seeking the permission of a court for relocation or securing a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent child relocation.
I’m worried about child abduction, what do I do?
A potential child abduction must be responded to quickly. Our team has the expertise to act swiftly and put in place emergency measures to prevent your child from being abducted and to ensure their prompt return.
If you are worried about possible child abduction or believe your child may have been abducted, please do not hesitate to contact us, as time is of the essence in these matters.
Do grandparents have any rights to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren, but there are steps they can take to ensure they are allowed to see their grandchildren. In many cases, this can be agreed upon voluntarily, but it can also be possible to secure permission from a court.
If grandparents need to rely on the courts, they must first secure permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. If permission is granted, they will need to apply for the Order to grant access to their grandchildren.
Our children's law team can help grandparents gain contact with and access to their grandchildren as quickly as possible, usually without the need for court proceedings.
I would like to adopt my partner’s children. What should I do?
Adoption can be complicated, so it is important to have the right advice and support along the way. Our child law experts can guide you through every stage of adoption proceedings, handling all of the legal aspects so you can focus on welcoming your new family members.
What happens if child care proceedings start?
Having Social Services become involved with your family is often confusing, scary and stressful. At Susan Howarth & Co., our care and adoption department is among the most experienced and respected in the North West of England. This gives us the skills necessary to support you through this difficult time and help you to protect your family.
What is a parenting plan, and how do I get one?
A parenting plan is an agreement between separating parents, usually recorded in writing, that sets out how the children’s upbringing will be managed. It will need to cover where the children will live when they spend time with each parent and any other important matters that need to be agreed.
Most parenting plans are made voluntarily between parents, typically through private negotiation or mediation. However, if this is not possible, you may need to apply to a court for a Child Arrangements Order instead.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
A Child Arrangements Order is a court order that states where a child will live, what contact they will have with a non-resident parent and any other key issues relating to the child’s upbringing that need to be defined. A Child Arrangements Order may be required if arrangements for children cannot be agreed upon voluntarily.
Find out more about our expertise with child arrangements.
Can my ex stop me from moving away with my children?
The answer to this question is not straightforward. If you are planning to move to another part of the UK or overseas, your ex-partner can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent you from doing so. Whether the Order will be granted will depend on what the court considers to be in your children’s best interests.
If you are considering a move and believe your children’s other parent may object, we strongly recommend speaking to our team as soon as possible.
Am I entitled to child maintenance?
When separating, it is essential to consider your and your children’s financial needs. In an ideal world, you and your ex will negotiate and agree on the amount of maintenance and what it will cover. If this is not possible, an application can be made to the CMS (Child Maintenance Service), a government-run agency that arranges and collects maintenance payments. Our experienced team can help relieve the stress and strain of negotiating child maintenance arrangements, giving you the guidance and support you need.
Can my ex stop me from taking my children on holiday?
Normally, you will need the permission of your ex-partner (and anyone else with parental responsibility) before taking a child abroad. If your ex refuses permission, you may need to seek the permission of a court.
However, if you have a Child Arrangements Order that says your children must live with you, you can take your child or children abroad for up to 28 days without your ex-partner’s permission. The only exception to this would be if the Child Arrangements Order specifically says that you are not allowed to do this.
Can I change my child’s surname?
Before changing a child’s surname, you will need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility, which usually means their other parent. If the other parent refuses permission, you can apply to a court for permission to change a child’s surname. Whether this will be granted will depend on the circumstances, including the reason for the name change and the child’s age.
Why Choose Susan Howarth & Co for child law advice?
We believe everyone has the right to access justice and expert legal advice. This can make navigating even the most complicated family law situations much simpler and less stressful. We are very proud of our family law department and the fantastic reputation our high-calibre solicitors have built in the community.
At Susan Howarth & Co, we approach every case with professionalism and commitment. No client’s needs are the same, which is why we always take the time to listen to you and understand your individual requirements.
Our expertise is independently recognised, including:
- Ranked as a Band 2 legal practice in the Chambers & Partners UK legal guide
- Directors Susan Howarth and Victoria Poole are both also ranked as ‘Notable Practitioners’ by Chambers & Partners UK
- Ranked as a Band 3 Leading Family Law Firm in The Legal 500 directory
- Susan Howarth has been ranked as a ‘Leading Individual’ for 4 consecutive years by the Legal 500 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023 as one of seven individuals for Family Law (North West)
- Accreditation by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law
- Many of our team are members of Resolution, the leading professional network for family lawyers
- Year on year we gain Lexcel accreditation for excellence in practice management
- We are winners of the Best Family and Childcare Law Firm (North West) in 2023 and in the AI Legal Awards
- We have been finalists of the Lexis Nexis Family Law Firm of the Year (North) for 2 consecutive years
A key benefit we can offer is our in-house family mediation service. We have a specialist Resolution-trained Family Mediator who is also a Resolution-accredited Specialist in Domestic Violence and Children Law (private) and an FMC-accredited Family Mediator (all issues).