Children Law Specialist

How A Children Law Specialist Can Help You And Your Family26th Oct 2022

by Lindsey Arnold on 26th Oct 2022

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Difference Between Private And Public Child Law

An accredited child law specialist is highly experienced in handling legal matters concerning children. This work falls into two categories:

  • Private cases involving Child Arrangement Orders, removal from the jurisdiction and child abduction.
  • Public legal work – representing parents and children in care proceedings and child protection matters. These cases involve Social Services and tend to be covered by Legal Aid.

Coles Miller does not handle public child welfare cases. We do not do Legal Aid work. Our focus is on private legal matters involving children.

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Who Accredits Children Specialists?

I am a Resolution-accredited specialist in Children Law (Private), one of very few in Dorset and the surrounding area.

Resolution – formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association – helps families solve their legal issues in a constructive and non-confrontational way. Members follow a code of practice.

Child Arrangement Orders

A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is a ruling by a family court. It regulates arrangements including:

  • with whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact
  • when the child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with any person.

Contact simply means the time that a child spends with an adult. There are several ways in which contact may take place or time be spent:

  • direct contact between the child and the person named in the order
  • overnight staying contact
  • supervised contact
  • indirect contact through letters or cards.

In rare circumstances, where it is in the best interests of the child, the court can order that there is no contact.

A CAO may specify the person with whom a child is to live. It may stipulate that the child is to live only with one parent – or it may provide for the child to share their time between both parents.

There is no template, no such thing as a ‘typical’ CAO. Each order is unique, applying specifically to one child to ensure that the arrangements put in place are always in their best interests.

A CAO will last until the child is 18 (unless the court orders an earlier date). A CAO that regulates when the child is to have contact with a person will usually end when the child is 16. But in limited circumstances it can last until the child is 18.

Child arrangement orders can be amended as family circumstances change; this entails applying for a variation.

Removal From Jurisdiction

We help parents who wish to remove their children from England or Wales, either for the purpose of a holiday (if the other parent refuses to consent) or to relocate permanently to a different country.

Cases such as these involve specialist legal knowledge and expertise because of the different legal jurisdictions and the sensitive family circumstances involved.

Child Abduction Cases

These cases involve the unauthorised removal of a child from one of their parents, or the child’s removal from the country where they usually live by either parent.

The removal is not authorised if either parent did not consent or the removal is not approved by the court.

These cases can be very complex. Legal systems elsewhere in the world can be very different to those used by the four UK nations. There are also the logistical difficulties posed by differences in language and location/time zone.

Many of these cases fall under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Hague Convention cases are one of my key specialisms as a family lawyer.

The Hague Convention sets out protocols for the return of children wrongfully removed across international borders. It has been signed by 101 countries. Some countries which have not signed up to the convention have signed bilateral agreements.

Further Reading

Get Expert Legal Advice

Contact Senior Associate Family Lawyer Lindsey Arnold, a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Children Law (Private).

Lindsey specialises in matters including divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships, separation, financial remedy proceedings, complex family law cases involving children, cohabitation agreements, adoption, pre/post-nuptial agreements, jurisdictional issues and family injunctions. She is based at our Poole head office.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.