0345 604 4911

Child Access Solicitors

"A class act"

Legal 500, 2018/19

"A class act"

Legal 500, 2018/19

If you’re going through a divorce, one of the most important things to work out is how much time you and your ex-partner will have with your children. Child access is covered as part of a Child Arrangements Order, which specifies who the child will live and spend time with.

Our expert child access solicitors are ready to advise you on your rights and responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a relationship with a child following a divorce.

The law now assumes that a child will continue to have a full and meaningful relationship with both parents following divorce, unless that would be harmful to the child. But we can also help other family members to have or to maintain a relationship, including:

  • Step-parents
  • Civil partners
  • Grandparents
  • Extended family such as an aunts or uncles

Our experienced child access lawyers can help you through this hard time. We’re known for taking a no-nonsense approach to sorting out the arrangements for children.

We’ll be honest with you from the start of your case about your chances of achieving what you want (many solicitors will tell you what you what to hear, which may leave you disappointed down the line). Often we help people who have received bad advice, or whose corner has not been fought.

For an initial consultation about your case, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


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  • Ros Bever
  • National Head of Family Law
Meet the team
Martin Loxley
Martin Loxley Sheffield

"Absolutely fantastic", "nationally known, pragmatic, and a hard negotiator."

Legal 500, 2016
Child Access - More Information
    • What Is The Legal Position Of Unmarried Parents?
    • If you are unmarried and have parental responsibility, then you have the same rights as any married parent.

      For same sex couples the legal situation is a little more complicated. There have been a number of changes to the law in recent years and child arrangements can depend on how the child was conceived or came into the family.

      If you’re in a same sex relationship and are worried about your parental rights, it’s best to seek advice from a family law specialist before taking any action. Call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • You do not have to go to court when deciding the arrangements for your children – you do not even need to get a legally recognised agreement in place if you have agreed things amicably, between yourselves.

      However, it can be helpful to get your agreement written down in case things change between you and your former partner in the future. You might decide also to get your agreement approved by the court in a child arrangements order, so it becomes legally binding.

      Even if you can’t agree between yourselves, you may be able to reach an agreement about child arrangements using an out of court process such as mediation. This involves using an impartial third party (a mediator) to help you and your former partner discuss the issues between you, and help you negotiate. 

      The court will usually expect that you’ll have tried to negotiate between yourselves (and to have considered a process such as mediation) before it will hear your case. If you can’t settle your dispute out of court, then you will have to go through the court process where a judge will decide your case for you.

      Our specialist lawyers are experienced in child arrangements and can provide expert advice and support throughout the process. For a consultation about your case, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Child Access Decided?

In the first instance, it is better to negotiate child access between you and your ex-partner, or try mediation. If these are unsuccessful then the court will decide.

When deciding child access, the court must take into account the factors set out in the welfare checklist from section 2.1 of the Children Act. These factors include:

  • Your ability to meet your child's specific needs
  • Any harm or risk of harm occurring to your child
  • Your child's age, gender and background
  • The likely impact of any change to your child's care arrangements
  • Your child's physical, emotional and educational needs
  • Your child’s wishes and feelings (although these are not always a deciding factor).

Our expert family law team has decades of experience dealing with child access disputes, offering an open and transparent service that keeps you informed and advised every step of the way.

For more information please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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What's The Process For Making A Child Arrangement Order?

An application for a Child Arrangements Order will take the following steps:

  • Your solicitor will decide if you need to get the court’s permission to apply for the order. This isn’t a problem for many parties – such as, parents, step-parents or civil partners – but others (such as grandparents) may need to apply for it as a first step.
  • In most cases, you will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can apply to the court. This meeting explores whether you could settle your dispute out of court. Mediation has a number of benefits – it can be quicker, cheaper and much less stressful. But it isn’t for everyone. If mediation isn’t possible then you will be able to make an application to the court.
  • You make an application to the court. The court will then notify the relevant parties and set a date for your first hearing, usually 5-6 weeks after you make the application.
  • You will then attend a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment. The judge and court adviser will try to help both sides come to an agreement. If this happens, the agreement will be made into a court order. If not, the judge will decide next steps (for example submitting evidence and witness statements) and set the date for a further court hearing. This will either be a further Dispute Resolution Appointment, or a final hearing of your case.
  • If the judge thinks it is necessary, you may have to attend a second court hearing. This hearing will review the position of both sides, and see if the dispute can be resolved, or if the issues can be narrowed further.
  • You will attend a final hearing. Each side will make their case and the judge will then give their decision (though this may be given at a later date if your case is complex).

Negotiations between the two sides can continue throughout this process – the court case can even be paused to allow more time for this. If you reach an out of court agreement at any point during proceedings, then the court case can be stopped.

If you would like to know more about how we could help, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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Can I Challenge The Access Rights I Have To My Child?

If no court order is in place and no agreement is reached, then the court is there to help ensure that children are able to enjoy a relationship with both parents. It is extremely rare for a court to decide that a child will not see a parent.

If there is already a court order in place that you’re unhappy with, then you may be able get the order changed through the court. However, it very much depends on your individual circumstances and the details of the existing order.

Our experienced lawyers can help you the access rights you have to your child. Please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with a number of trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online.

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