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Child law  |  Children & Social Services  |  Family law

Why Children Law solicitors are important

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Ask any parent what is the most important thing in their life and they will instantly reply: their children.father talking to child

And for most parents their children are a constant part of their life, at least until the children grow up.

But sometimes the law will intervene, threatening to reduce the time a parent spends with their children, or even to remove the children entirely.

At such times it is essential that the parent engage the services of an expert children law solicitor.

What is a children law solicitor?

Before looking at when a parent needs a children law solicitor, and why they are so important, we first need to consider exactly what a children law solicitor is, because not all solicitors are children law solicitors.

Children law is a specialisation, requiring quite different skills from most other areas of law. In fact, the skills required are quite different even to other areas of family law, such as sorting out finances on divorce, although many children law solicitors are experts in both fields.

Children law solicitors acquire those skills through continual training (keeping them up to date with the latest law and practices) and, of course, experience.

But how do you know that you are instructing an expert children lawyer?

One way is accreditation by a professional body.

For example, the Law Society runs a Children Law Accreditation scheme. Solicitors who have Children Law Accreditation are specialists in dealing with legal issues related to children, such as adoption, child protection, and arrangements for children following family breakdown.

Children Law Accreditation is open to both solicitors and legal executives. To obtain accreditation the applicant must have enough experience to show that they have:

  • personally conducted cases and represented parties in children proceedings;
  • carried out advocacy for clients;
  • a thorough awareness of ethical issues that can arise in children cases;
  • an up-to-date knowledge of guidance, legislation, case law and practice developments; and
  • the ability to work directly with children, explore their competence and understand their wishes and feelings.

The Law Society also expects them to meet the standards of practice and conduct outlined in a Code of Practice for Children Law.

Children Law Accreditation is a recognised quality standard for practitioners representing children in children law proceedings.

When do you need a children law solicitor?

There are essentially two situations when a parent will need a children law solicitor: private law cases and public law cases.

Private law cases are where arrangements for children need to be sorted out between the parents following family breakdown. Those arrangements include with whom the children will live, and what time they will spend with the other parent.

A children law solicitor will obviously advise the parent on the law, and if necessary represent them at court.

However, a children law solicitor can do much more. They can help the parents resolve the matter by agreement if possible, thereby avoiding potentially damaging court proceedings.

They can also, for example, prevent a parent from making serious mistakes, such as arguing irrelevant matters (often an issue that a parent considers of utmost importance is not actually important to the outcome), and seeking equal time at all costs, thereby preventing early resolution of the matter.

Public law cases, on the other hand, are cases where social services are involved, because of concerns over the level of care provided for the children by the parents. If those concerns are sufficiently serious, the local authority can apply to the family court for a care order, potentially removing the children from the parents’ care.

Obviously, in such cases it is absolutely essential that the parents instruct a children law solicitor, at the earliest opportunity, so that they have the best chance to avoid their children being taken into care.

As will be seen from the above, the situations when a parent will need the help of a children law solicitor can be extremely serious. The importance of an expert children law solicitor to the parent cannot therefore be overstated.

How can we help?

For further information, please see the Children and Social Services page.

Walker Family Law is an award-winning family law practice, recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law & mediationdivorce lawchild-law and arbitration.

Please contact us if you require any further information