Experts in Child Law
We are experienced Child Law Solicitors.
We have 3 members of the prestigious Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme (originally and more commonly known as the Children Panel)
- Ian Walker has been a member of the Children Panel since 1996.
- Kim Stradling has been a Children Panel member since 1999
- Sandy Powell has been a Children Panel member since 1992
Carrie Meikle is not yet a Children Panel member but is very much part of our Child Law team and is working toward membership.
Over 65 years of Children Panel Membership
Between Ian, Kim and Sandy we have over 65 years of Children Panel membership which makes us one of the most experienced teams of Child Law specialists in Devon and Somerset.
The Children Law Accreditation Scheme covers all types of children law work.
Types of Children Law work that we deal with
We represent parents and grandparents in the full range of children law work. Here are some examples of what we do:
Care Proceedings are cases brought by Social Services to protect children where they believe that a child has suffered significant harm or is likely to do so.
The court will decide whether children should continue to live with their parents or whether they should live with other family members. Sometimes children are placed in long-term foster care. Other times children are adopted. When children do not return home, there are often issues about maintaining contact.
We make sure that our clients get a fair hearing. Social services don’t always get things right.
There more examples on how social services page – but in one recent case we acted from other whose first baby had been removed and adopted. She came to our area, pregnant and as a missing person – after being told by social services that they were going to remove her new baby once born. We assisted our client to engage with our local social services and after considering all the evidence the Court was satisfied that she could keep her baby.
Special Guardianship Orders are types of Order are often made in Care Proceedings and are a way of securing a child in the care of a member of their wider family, when it is not in their best interests to live with either of their parents.
Recently we acted for a grandmother whose grandchild was placed in her long-term care through a Special Guardianship Order. When she first sought our advice – the social services assessment was that she should not care for her grandchild. If she had not succeeded – it was likely that the child would have been adopted.
Residence and Contact/Child Arrangements
Residence and Contact disputes arise where there is disagreement about where a child should live or who a child should live with and how much they should see the other parent or other family members including grandparents.
The court orders are now called Child Arrangement Orders.
We have acted in cases where fathers have regained contact with their children – after it was unreasonably withheld.
We also recently acted in the case where a young mother secured the return of her child into her care from her estranged parents. She had lost a court case with other solicitors. We helped her prove to the Court that her child should be in her care.
We have assisted mothers to promote the relationship between their children and their fathers whilst at the same time finding ways to manage the fathers misbehaviour.
Moving overseas against the wishes of the other parent
These cases can be very complicated, but often need to be dealt with within a short timescale. Ian has acted for parents who have been successful in relocating.
Sometimes a parent will refuse to acknowledge that the father is a child’s parent. These are cases where DNA testing is required
Parents may have fundamental disagreements about how to bring children up or refuse to work together as a team. Sometimes decisions about some issues need to be made by a Court.
Adoption is increasingly the outcome of Care proceedings. There are all sorts of complicated issues. Ian has acted in cases where adoption has broken down.
Where there is abuse within a home, even if it is (just!) between parents it is impossible for children not to be aware of it and to be damaged by it. Ian Walker has a long track record in assisting clients who have been victim of domestic abuse, including where they have re-located from one part of the country to another in order to keep themselves and their children safe.
Legal Aid is still available to assist in all cases involving social services. Sometimes it is subject to a means test – but other times it is not. All parents get free legal aid if social services take them to court. Sometimes other family members will as well. Legal Aid rules are quite complicated. We are happy to discuss with you whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.
We take on cases through Legal Aid.
Get Advice from an Expert Child Law Solicitor
Within all cases difficult decisions have to be made. Often there can be long term consequences if these are wrong or bad. It is therefore important that good advice is received early on. A lot can rest upon what parents do and how they communicate.
We have a lot of experience within our team. We also have a good track record of getting good outcomes for our clients.Sometimes – particularly between parents – the best solutions don’t involve going to court – but are achieved through assisting our clients make the best use of mediation.
We are Child Law Expert Solicitors – if you need some advicethen please do give us a call.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01404 819098