Child Custody Solicitors in Hertfordshire & Luton

Our child custody solicitors offer legal advice on the custody of children and aid when seeking a Child Arrangement Order.

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01582 765111

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Child custody solicitors with unmatched expertise in child law

If you and your partner have agreed to divorce or separate, one of the most traumatic aspects of the process is deciding who your child predominantly lives with and how arrangements for their care will be shared.

At Taylor Walton, we understand the high emotions and stress of what you and your children are going through right now. If you are finding that your child custody arrangement has been difficult to agree on amicably, or that your child arrangement case is complex and needs specialist support, we can offer quality legal advice to help you reach an arrangement that prioritises your children's interests whilst minimising stress and conflict.

Our child custody solicitors can work with you and your partner on a collaborative divorce to help you both come to an agreement on child arrangements. UK law requires that you both decide on childcare arrangements yourself before it goes to court, however in situations where you cannot both agree or there are special circumstances affecting your case (such as abuse, drug or alcohol dependency or other 'unfit parent' claims) our child custody solicitors can help guide you through the court process until you are granted a Child Arrangements Order (a child custody agreement; the term ‘custody’ is no longer used by the UK courts).

The happiness and wellbeing of children is central to what we do, and our child custody solicitors have worked with thousands of families to help them resolve their legal issues - allowing them to move forward onto happier and more fulfilled lives. We know how child arrangements can cause tension between parents, however with our years of experience, vast knowledge of UK child law and non-confrontational and professional approach, you’ll be relieved to have our child custody solicitors on your side.

For enquiries about our child custody solicitors’ services or to discuss a quick and confidential consultation, call us on 01582 765111 or fill out the enquiry form above, and will get back to you as soon as possible.

"All the staff at the practice are very approachable, helpful and knowledgeable."

- Legal 500

Child arrangement issues that our child custody solicitors can advise on:

Child Support & Maintenance

Child Arrangement Orders

Specific Issue Orders

Prohibited Steps Orders

Parental responsibility for grandparents and extended family

Child custody in the event of parental death

Unfit parent claims

Our Testimonials

'I just wanted to thank you for everything you have done for me and the girls over the last few months, I really do appreciate all your hard work. We are now settled in our new home and can start looking forward to the future.

Thank you also for assisting with the child care matter, things do seem more settled now and X seems a lot happier... should I need further help in the future I will not hesitate to contact you and would not hesitate to recommend your services.'

Will Mercer is solution focused, knowledgeable and knows what he is doing. He provides his clients with good, practical advice and thinks outside the box. He is efficient and effective in achieving successful outcomes. He always adopts a constructive and sensible approach, and encourages his clients to be child focused.’ 

Ben Twitchen is an exceptional solicitor. Ben’s bedside manner and reassuring demeanour were greatly appreciated during a very drawn-out and convoluted case, and his intelligent approach, maven-like insight, and confidence under pressure were absolutely critical to getting the results required. Where financing became an issue, Ben was able to find solutions.’ 

‘Well organised, professional and got the job done, always kept up to date.’ 

'Thank you very much for all your hard work on this matter and taking the pressure off for me as at times I was very much out of my depth, thank you for explaining things so I could understand better.'

Where we are based

Our child custody solicitors have two offices based in the Hertfordshire area (Harpenden & St. Albans) and one in Luton, Bedfordshire.

If you wish to contact one of our specific offices, visit our Contact page for more details.

Why choose Taylor Walton child custody solicitors?

Vastly experienced and knowledgeable in Child Law. We have helped thousands of parents take back control of their and their children's lives through our expert legal advice. Our team have shared decades of experience working with child custody cases and Child Arrangement Orders, so you can be assured that you are in safe hands when using one of our child custody solicitors. 

Quality legal advice with no jargon. Our child custody solicitors give clear and concise legal advice free of unnecessary and complicated legal jargon, so that you can fully understand what to expect from the custody process and make informed decisions for both you and your children.  

A service that is ethical and trustworthy. All Taylor Walton child custody solicitors are members of Resolution – an organisation committed to resolving family legal issues in a non-confrontational way. This means that you can trust us to always advocate for the least conflicting and stress-inducing option when it comes to your children. Find out more about Resolution’s membership code and conduct policy here.   

Consistent communication throughout the process. Our child custody solicitors will keep you in the loop regarding how your case is progressing and offer support should your child custody case need to go to court. 

Will find a solution that suits both you and your children. We know that every family is different, and therefore what they need in terms of a Child Arrangement Order will differ accordingly. Our child custody solicitors will work hard to reach a solution for your children that works in their interests.   

Competitively priced. We frequently review the pricing of other local firms so that our rates always remain competitive. In our first consultation we will be transparent about how much your legal services will likely cost and can work with you to design a bespoke legal package that suits your requirements and budget. 

Meet our Child Custody Solicitors

Ben Twitchen

Family law
Partner
01582 714609 ben.twitchen@taylorwalton.co.uk

Natalie Beese

Family law
Family Law - Partner
01582 765111 natalie.beese@taylorwalton.co.uk

Will Mercer

Family law
Family Law - Partner
01727 845245 william.mercer@taylorwalton.co.uk

Olive McCarthy

Family law, Management
Family Law - Partner & Arbitrator
01727 818519 olive.mccarthy@taylorwalton.co.uk
Amelia Scippo

Amelia Scippo

Family law
Family Law - Solicitor
01582 765111 amelia.scippo@taylorwalton.co.uk

Anna Patsalides

Family law
Family Law - Solicitor
01727 845245 anna.patsalides@taylorwalton.co.uk

Emily Woodhouse

Family law
Family Law - Solicitor
01582 714606 emily.woodhouse@taylorwalton.co.uk

Fay Goodwin

Family law
Paralegal
01582 714610 fay.goodwin@taylorwalton.co.uk

Ethan Diver

Family law
Trainee Solicitor - Family
01727 648456 Ethan.Diver@taylorwalton.co.uk

Laura Woolard

Family law
Family - Solicitor
01727 845245 laura.woolard@taylorwalton.co.uk

Lauren Windsor

Family law
Trainee Solicitor - Family
lauren.windsor@taylorwalton.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

What is child custody?

Child custody is a term used to describe the legal guardianship arrangement between a parent/guardian and a child. It consists of both legal custody (the right to make decisions about a child) and physical custody (the right to house, provide and care for a child).

Married parents usually share custody of any children they have; however, custody issues can arise during events such as divorce and separation, adoption, parental death or when a single or both parents are considered ‘unfit’ for parental responsibility.

In UK law, the term ‘custody’ is considered outdated and therefore no longer used, and both the UK courts and our child custody solicitors will refer to Child Arrangement Orders or ‘parental responsibility’ when describing the care relationship between a parent/guardian and child.

What can I do if me and my ex-partner cannot agree on our children's care?

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement about your children amicably, then the next step is to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM), as the courts usually require that you attempt mediation with your ex-partner prior to applying for custody arrangements.

However, you do not need to attend a MIAM if:

  • There was domestic abuse in your relationship
  • You are applying for a consent order.
Will one parent get preferential treatment regarding child custody?

No parent has automatic precedence when legally binding decisions are being made on their child’s care.

Despite the widely held belief that mothers get preferential treatment over child custody than fathers, the courts understand that this arrangement does not reflect modern families, and that both parents have equally important roles when it comes to raising children.

Family court now operate to ensure that both parents – including same-sex couples – share the raising of a child after separation.

How does the court decide child custody?

If childcare arrangements cannot be agreed on by you and your ex-partner, then the decision will be passed on to the courts.

When deciding on a Child Arrangement Order, courts will follow the factors listed in the welfare checklist in Section 2.1 of the Children Act:

  • The parents' ability to meet the child's needs
  • Any risk of harm to the child
  • The child’s age, sex and background
  • The impact any arrangement change may have on the child
  • The physical, mental and educational needs of the child
  • The child’s expressed wishes and feelings (this does not always influence the outcome, but will be a considered factor in the final decision)

The courts prioritise the wellbeing of the child when deciding on parental responsibility arrangements, and will also consider factors such as children having regular contact with both parents and with extended family (e.g. grandparents).

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangement Order is a court-issued legal decision that decides:

  • Where a child lives
  • When a child spends time with each parent
  • Other types of contact the child will have and when each will take place (e.g. phone calls, video chats, contact centre meetings)
Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

The child’s parent or anyone who has parental responsibility over the child can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Other people (such as grandparents) can also apply, however they must get permission from the courts prior to applying for an order.

Do I need to seek a Child Arrangement Order if I am getting divorced or separated?

No – only if you and your former partner can’t reach an agreement on your children, or if there are circumstances involved where you have concerns about your child’s safety (e.g., If the other parent has been abusive or have been/are involved with drugs or alcohol). Otherwise, the courts prefer that parents reach an agreement between them regarding their children and will only intervene if this can’t be done.

We do recommend however that you and your partner have some form of written agreement that confirms your custody arrangement, even if it is not a legal document.

We understand that there may be tension and difficulty following a separation, so if you are finding it hard to communicate with your ex-partner, we recommend seeking an impartial third-party mediator.

Do I need a solicitor for a Child Arrangement Order?

Parenting plans are not instantly binding, so if you feel that a legally binding agreement is needed then you will need to obtain a Child Arrangement Order form the court. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice beforehand, as our qualified child custody solicitors can draft up the necessary documents for you, proposing an arrangement that you agree on and one that is more likely to be accepted by the courts.

What happens if me and my ex-partner were not married or in a civil partnership?

For heterosexual parents, your rights will be the same as any married couple.

However, in unmarried same-sex partnerships, the legal situation can be more complicated. Although there have been several changes to the law in recent years, child arrangements after separation will rely on how the child was conceived or how they came into the family.

If you are in a same sex relationship and worried about your rights with your children, then we advise getting in touch with one of our family law specialists before acting. Call us on 01582 765111 or contact us online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Can Child Arrangement Orders be changed if I do not agree with them?

In some circumstances Child Arrangement Orders can be challenged and altered, however it depends on the circumstances of the arrangement and why you are challenging it.

Some Child Arrangement Orders include a clause that allows you to change the framework of the order, if both you and your ex-partner agree to it. Otherwise, for a completely new Child Arrangement Order you will have to get the courts involved.

Every child custody case is different, so before you decide to challenge an existing Child Arrangement Order you must get professional legal advice to help assess your situation and devise the best course of action. Call us on 01582 765111 or contact us online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

My ex-spouse or partner was abusive – what can I do to prevent them from getting custody?

In instances where you do not wish to see your ex-partner for a serious reason – such as if you suffered domestic violence during the relationship or emotional abuse – it may be possible for you to go through the divorce process without having to see them. During this period, you can then present your case for why they pose a danger to your children and therefore should not see them.

Our child custody solicitors have a sensitive yet pragmatic approach to child custody cases where there has been abuse. Upon instructing one of our solicitors, we will inform you of your options and whether you are likely to have to see or speak to your former partner.

If you are anxious about having to see your partner during court or mediation, then our solicitors will be there for you to offer support and ensure that you and your children's rights are upheld and protected.

How do I get sole custody?

Sole custody is when one parent is legally granted both physical and legal custody of a child. However, sole custody can be difficult to attain and is dependable on a variety of factors.

The courts will look to promote joint custody wherever possible, unless you are able to prove that sole custody would be a better outcome for the child, which is why in these circumstances you should seek early legal advice.

Sole custody can sometimes be awarded if you are able to prove or argue the following:

  • The other parent is unable to raise or supervise the child
  • The other parent has previously been neglectful, abusive or has abandoned the child
  • The other parent has working arrangements or other lifestyle factors that would make adequate raising of the child not possible. This is provided that your own work arrangements are better suited for full custody.
  • The other parent has problems with drugs or alcohol, unresolved mental health issues or has been emotionally or/and physically abusive
Will I need to go to court?

If you and your partner can agree on child custody arrangements without contention, then court intervention will not be necessary. If you cannot agree, then there is also the option of mediation that can often help you and your ex-partner overcome disagreements and work in a collaborative way to find a solution that suits both of you and your children.

However, if you and your ex-partner can still not come to an agreement, or there are serious issues attached to your situation (such as domestic violence, abuse or an ‘unfit parent’ claim) then family court-issued Child Arrangement Order may be needed.

We understand that court can be stressful for individuals with children, especially when abuse occurred in the relationship. Therefore, should your case need to go before a court hearing, our solicitors will be there to offer support and ensure you and your children’s interests are protected.

What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order is a court-issued intervention that can be applied for when there is a disagreement related to parental responsibility. Some examples of when you can apply for a Specific Issue Order include disagreements involving:

  • Your child’s education I.e., what schools they attend
  • Your child’s medical treatment
  • The religion that your child is raised in
  • When a parent wants to take their child to live abroad

If you want to take a child to live abroad with you, it is vital you seek legal advice, as taking a child out of the UK without the right consent or Court Order is a criminal offence (see ‘What is classed as child abduction?’)

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order can be applied for when one parent wants to prevent the other from taking a particular action related to parental responsibility. Some examples of when this is used include:

  • Preventing a child’s medical treatment
  • Preventing the child from leaving the UK to live abroad
  • Preventing the child from being associated with someone with issues that can affect their wellbeing (e.g., a new partner of the parent who is involved in drugs)
What is classed as child abduction?

Child abduction is the unauthorised removal or retention of a child from their parent or guardian. It is not a crime that can only be committed by strangers – in fact, the legal definition of abduction can also be applied to parents, other family members, neighbours, friends and acquaintances.

The Child Abduction Act (1984) makes it a criminal offence for anyone (including people who are connected to the child, such as parents or grandparents) to take a child out of the UK without their parents or guardians' consent. This also applies to holidays or temporary living abroad, as parental permission is required before this can go ahead.

If you are thinking of taking your child to live abroad, then it is vital that you seek legal advice first to prevent criminal prosecution. Get in touch with our child custody solicitors today on 01582 765111 or contact us online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About Taylor Walton

“Taylor Walton are recognised not only among the top 200 law firms and lawyers in England and Wales, but also as the firm that provides the best service in the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire areas”

‘The Times’ in co-operation with ‘Statista’

 

Taylor Walton is one of Hertfordshire’s leading law firms. Since opening our doors in 2007, we have helped thousands of businesses and individuals resolve and manage their legal issues, including as acting advisors to FTSE 350 companies, public and private sector organisations, charities and high-net worth individuals.

From our offices in Luton, St Albans and Harpenden, we offer a wide range of legal services, from corporate litigation and residential conveyancing to private client and family law.

We have a ‘people first’ approach that allows us to understand and connect with the businesses and individuals that we work with, and many of our clients have worked with us on a long-term basis due to our high quality and diverse service offerings. Read more about Taylor Walton here.

Get in touch with our child custody solicitors in Hertfordshire & Luton today

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