Children’s Issues

Children in Separation and Divorce

A separation or divorce in a family inevitably impacts heavily on children and how to manage and care for the children during and after this change is an extremely emotional and sensitive aspect of family law.

Caring for children is the most critical aspect of any separation or divorce agreement and within family law the needs of children are central to any resolution that is to be made.  At Harris & Harris we always encourage a collaborative approach to child-related matters and believe that, in general, parents are the best people to decide how they will share the care of their children once they live apart.  In practice however, when emotions run high, it can be difficult to resolve disputes over care.  In extreme circumstances, when other collaborative approaches have failed, parents often have to let the courts decide the outcome for their children.

Depending on their age and understanding, the wishes of children are taken into account, but a court will also have to consider wider issues over their welfare, including any risk to the children themselves.

At Harris & Harris we can assist with all aspects affecting children and advise on the best way to resolve disputes affecting them.  We can offer collaborative work in reducing the conflict and enabling the parents to reach their own arrangements for their children.  We can help unmarried parents sort out parental responsibility for their children and often help grandparents and other family members who do not have automatic rights to establish contact.

Children in Local Authorities Care Proceedings

When the Local Authority Social Services Department has concerns about a child’s care, it has the power to start court proceedings against the parents.  When Care Orders are made, parental responsibility is shared with the Local Authority.  The Authority then has the power to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian can exercise their responsibility and can also determine where a child will live.  In some cases this can involve moving a child into foster care and/or determining the level of contact a parent can have with their child.

Care proceedings are extremely stressful situations for both children and parents, which is why specialist legal representation is so necessary.  At Harris & Harris we can lead you through these proceedings to obtain the best result for you and your children.

Children in Adoption

Adoption is an extremely complex area of Family Law and requires specialist knowledge of processes both in the UK and abroad.  At Harris & Harris we can help with the complete adoption process giving you full legal guidance right through to the final hearing.

When you adopt a child you become the child’s legal parent and the child would usually take your surname.  The child will also inherit from you just as if they were born to you.  When granting an Adoption Order the child’s natural parents will no longer have any rights or responsibilities towards the child.

Applying for an Adoption Order is a complicated process that involves a report by the local authority and the children’s guardian, a reporting officer, or children & family reporter.  Adoption applications with a foreign element can often involve further procedures.  Whether you are adopting at home or from abroad, it is important to obtain specialised and experienced legal advice in this complex field of family law.