Child Access Solicitors
When parents separate, children are often caught in the middle of disputes about who they should live with (sometimes called ‘custody’) and how much time they should spend with the other parent (‘access’). Disputes over child access can be fraught with tension and it is often the children at the centre of the dispute who suffer the most if an agreement cannot be reached.
Disputes over child access (sometimes referred to as ‘contact’) can be daunting to deal with. To ensure that you are able to secure the right outcome for you and your children, and to reduce any potential for conflict with your former partner, it is essential that you have the best legal and personal support on your side.
At Barcan+Kirby, our highly rated Family Law team supports clients across the UK from our offices in Bedminster, Bishopston, Bristol city centre, Kingswood and Thornbury. If you need support in resolving a child access dispute or any other relevant family law matter, our solicitors for child access provide straightforward and sensitive advice to help you reach the right outcome.
How do I get access to see my child?
Child access can often be a difficult issue to deal with in the wake of a separation. In most cases, it is possible to amicably agree who children should live with and what access a non-resident parent should have. However, our child access solicitors recognise that every relationship is different and a collaborative approach to resolving child contact disputes does not work for everyone.
Our specialists will be able to provide you with advice tailored to your specific circumstances, to ensure that the approach you take achieves the best possible outcome for you and your children.
We can also advise on situations where you wish to limit someone else’s access to your child or prevent this altogether.
Looking for more information? Please take a look at our child access FAQs or get in touch to discuss your case with a member of our team.
Why choose Barcan+Kirby for help with access to children arrangements?
There are many reasons to work with our specialist solicitors for child access. These include:
- Extensive expertise in contentious child law matters, including in situations involving domestic abuse allegations
- Ranked by Chambers and Partners UK for our Family/Matrimonial expertise
- Family Law and Children Law accredited by the Law Society
- Three members of the team – Hanni Pennelegion, Kirsten Hale and Gareth Hughes are also individually ranked by Chambers and Partners for their expertise
- Ranked by the Legal 500 for Family
- All of our Family Law team are members of Resolution, the UK’s leading professional network for family lawyers
We also have experience in working closely with other relevant professionals to ensure that your case is as strong as possible and that your children receive the full support they need.
Making child access arrangements
Child access disputes can take a range of forms. You may feel that your relationship with your child has been deliberately or maliciously obstructed. Or maybe a former partner has stopped your child from living with you.
It’s only natural that you will both have differing opinions about what you believe is best for your children. Our specialist child contact solicitors can help you to get to the point of working towards a compromise that you both agree to. In our experience, most parents are prepared to negotiate if the outcome is in the best interests of their child.
There are a number of potential options for making child access arrangements that can form the basis of a Parenting Plan for both parents to follow.
Mediation for child access arrangements
Mediation sessions will involve you, your former partner and any other relevant parties meeting together to discuss the issues that are preventing you from being able to reach an access agreement.
Several sessions may take place with the assistance of a trained mediator who will act as a neutral third party. They will facilitate the conversation regarding access arrangements and step in to defuse any potential conflict. They cannot provide any specific legal advice or take sides.
Collaborative law for child access arrangements
In some cases, collaborative law could be a viable alternative to mediation. This is where there may be more complex issues related to the access arrangements that need to be resolved, or you want your own legal advisor to support you while proceedings are ongoing.
A meeting will take place between you, the other parent, and any other interested parties, with the assistance of your own respective solicitors. Both side’s solicitors must be trained in collaborative law and cannot provide legal representation if the matter proceeds to court. This means that everyone will be committed to finding a resolution.
We are specialists in collaborative law so will be on hand to lend our expertise if this is your desired route.
Court proceedings for child access arrangements
There may be situations where it is simply not possible to make child contact arrangements voluntarily. In these rare cases, court proceedings may be necessary to reach the desired outcome and to make sure that your child’s welfare is protected.
We provide comprehensive legal support for any court proceedings that take place, robustly protecting your best interests to secure the best possible outcome for you and your children.
A Child Arrangements Order is a legal order relating to a child’s residence and with whom they have contact. It can set out where and with whom the child lives, and who they get to spend time with. For example, the Order may decide that the child lives predominantly with one parent but can spend a number of days a week or a month with the other.
Child access FAQs
The time it takes to make a child access agreement will largely depend on your current circumstances and whether you are able to come to a swift voluntary agreement. As can be expected, where you are able to come to an agreement without the need for court involvement, child access cases will be resolved much faster.
An online service exists to make an application to court regarding child arrangements (C100 form). It costs £232 to apply.
If the access dispute cannot be resolved between you and your former partner through a parenting plan or a mediation session, a specialist child access solicitor can set out your options and advise you on applying for a Child Arrangements Order.
There are various types of Orders, all of which need to be applied for through the Family Court, and so it’s important to seek legal advice before going down this route.
A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) prevents one parent from doing something. This commonly includes taking the child out of the country, moving schools and removing them from school without consent, but can also be used to prevent a parent from allowing a child to be around someone whose behaviour or influence you are concerned about.
Once a PSO is issued, the parent who wants to take one of these actions must apply to the court for permission if the other parent has not given their consent.
If there has been any domestic abuse or there is a risk of harm to the children, a family solicitor can apply to the Court to issue urgent proceedings in appropriate cases.