Expert Children Solicitors in Essex

Trusted Child Custody Lawyers for Legal Resolution

Resolve child custody matters with T.G. Collins solicitors. Our experienced lawyers in Essex provide legal expertise and compassionate support for a fair and favourable resolution. For expert help with all legal matters relating to children contact our team of experts.

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Child Custody Lawyers in Chelmsford and Benfleet

Experts at Sorting Arrangements for Your Children

If parents are separating, the needs of the children require special attention. The law does promote both parents having an important role to play in the child’s future life, irrespective of how the parent personally may feel about their former partner. The emphasis is very much on the child, with their best interests being the Court’s paramount consideration.

We are keen to help you resolve any disputes without the matter being referred to a Court and will discuss with you the merits of mediation and improving the communications between you and the other parent. If this cannot be achieved, we will assist you with a Court application for Child Arrangements Orders. These replaced the old style of the “Residence and Contact” orders (formerly known as “Custody” and “Access” Orders) and focus on where the children will live and when the child will spend time with each of their parents, holiday arrangements and where the child should go to school.

We also advise on Grandparents rights and Parental Responsibility Orders. Contact us now for divorce and child custody lawyers!

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Grandparent rights to grandchildren | Child Custody

Grandparents' Rights to Contact with Grandchildren

At T.G. Collins Solicitors, we understand the important role grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives. Our dedicated Children Matters service includes expert legal advice on grandparents’ rights to contact with their grandchildren. Navigating family disputes can be challenging, but our experienced solicitors in Chelmsford and Benfleet, Essex, are here to help. We are committed to advocating for your rights and ensuring the best interests of your grandchildren are upheld. Trust T.G. Collins Solicitors to provide compassionate and professional support as you seek to maintain a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren. Contact us today for a consultation.

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Grandparents do not have an automatic right to seek child arrangements orders, specific issue orders, or prohibited steps orders save in certain circumstances, for example, where the child has already been living with them for at least 12 months. Otherwise, unless the grandparent applicant already has parental responsibility, they will need to seek leave to make their application.

The court will determine an application by a grandparent based on the child’s welfare. These cases are determined on a case by case basis. Relevant considerations may include:

The court has indicated that the value of the contribution offered by the grandparent
seeking the orders is of interest. The simple fact of being a grandparent may not be
sufficient grounds to grant an order.

grandparents

Private Child Arrangements

Overview

The principal aim is to come to an arrangement which is in the best interests of the child rather than the parent.

Courts do not need to become involved in child arrangements and should only ever be asked to participate as a last resort. Parents will face criticism from the court if they have not tried their best to resolve matters by agreement, whether in person, through mediation, or solicitor-led negotiations.

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Legislation

The Children Act 1989 is the primary legislation concerning children, their upbringing, and welfare.

The Child Arrangements Programme

The programme applies when there is a private dispute between parents or family members about childcare arrangements.

The programme sets out the entire Family Court process, including:

Once mediation has been completed or an exemption approved, the mediator supplies a certificate. An application for a financial order can then be submitted, accompanied by the certificate, following the standard procedure or the fast-track procedure detailed below.

child arrangement

Parental responsibility

Definition

Parental responsibility is defined in s 3 of the Children Act 1989 as:

All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. It does not confer a right to see or spend time with a child. Nor does it grant the right to prevent the child from seeing or spending time with the other parent. It means a parent has the right to ensure the child is safe, protected, and supported in their relationships. Parental responsibility serves to identify the parties responsible for making important decisions about a child’s care and upbringing, such as:

Once mediation has been completed or an exemption approved, the mediator supplies a certificate. An application for a financial order can then be submitted, accompanied by the certificate, following the standard procedure or the fast-track procedure detailed below.

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Automatic parental responsibility

A birth mother has automatic parental responsibility for her child. 

A legal parent named on a birth certificate or adoption certificate also has automatic parental responsibility. 

If the parents were married at the time of a child’s birth, the father will also automatically have parental responsibility. 

Artificial insemination donors and a civil partner or married partner of the birth mother will have automatic parental responsibility if they were partners at the time of treatment or are registered as the child’s legal parent on the birth certificate.

Other methods of acquiring parental responsibility

If the parents were not married or in a civil partnership, the biological father of a child who was born after 2003 or the second female parent who is not listed on the child’s birth certificate could acquire parental responsibility.

STEP-PARENTS – A step-parent can acquire parental responsibility by: OTHER PARTIES

A person can also acquire parental responsibility for a child by:

Completing parental responsibility agreements

Parental responsibility agreements must be accompanied by evidence of the children’s identity and the signatories to the form.

Completed forms must be returned with copies to the local family court, where they are signed by the parties and witnessed by:

Two copies of the completed, signed, and witnessed form are sent to the following address
to be registered: Principal Registry of the Family Division

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Exercising parental responsibility

Each person with parental responsibility can act alone in meeting their responsibility: s 2(7). The legislation does not prescribe the level of consultation required between those with parental responsibility or how disputes must be managed.

Parties with parental responsibility are encouraged to attempt mediation to resolve issues before making an application to the court.

Orders in relation to children

Under s8 of the Children Act 1989, the court can make the following orders for children:

Child arrangements orders

Child arrangements orders set out arrangements for children following the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. Child arrangements orders typically cover:

Who may apply for orders

Section 10 of the Children Act 1989 prescribes who may apply for orders, which includes:

Any person who falls within a category of person prescribed by the rules is entitled to apply for any s 8 order as may be prescribed.


In deciding to grant leave where the person applying for leave to make an application is not the child concerned the court shall have regard to:

Every person with parental responsibility for the child should be named as a respondent to a child arrangements order application.


If a party applies to vary or discharge a child arrangements order, all parties to the original proceedings should be included as respondents.

Matters covered in a child arrangements order

The welfare of the child is paramount

The court’s paramount concern in making child arrangements orders is the child’s welfare: s 1(1) Children Act 1989.

Live with orders

Previously referred to as residence or custody, a live with order can determine with whom a child is to reside. An order cannot determine the particular location of a child’s residence.

Orders can deal with:

Two copies of the completed, signed, and witnessed form are sent to the following address
to be registered: Principal Registry of the Family Division

Spend time with orders

Previously referred to as contact, the court can make a variety of different orders
concerning who a child is to spend time with, including:

Two copies of the completed, signed, and witnessed form are sent to the following address
to be registered: Principal Registry of the Family Division

Prohibited steps orders

A prohibited steps order is made under s 8 of the Children Act 1989. This order prohibits a parent or another party with parental responsibility from taking any of the steps specified in the orders without the prior consent of the court.

Prohibited steps orders commonly include prohibiting:

Specific issue orders

A specific issue order can be made under s8 of the Children Act 1989 to determine a specific question that has arisen or may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child including:

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TG Collins handled the Sale of my property recently and were one of the best firms of Solicitors I have ever dealt with, and I have instructed quite a few over the years. I am particularly impressed with Nitu, who kept me fully informed throughout. She always took my calls and quickly replied to my emails. She is a real credit to the firm. I highly recommend TG Collins.
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I would highly recommend the services of the Family Department at T.G.Collins solicitors. From beginning to end the process was made easy by Jigyasa. I was treated with respect, politeness and professionalism. I would recommend anyone looking to instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf for a smooth, efficient and positive outcome in a divorce settlement. Thushara and her team are amazing. The most difficult and challenging of times were made easier with honest, upfront and precise information to ensure success in my divorce settlement. Thank you to you all. Jo

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