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Parenting & children

Obtaining legal responsibility for children

We regularly help clients who are caring for children in many different circumstances in which they are not the biological parent. Aside from adoption, there are alternative routes to providing legal stability for a child you are seeking to or already look after, via:

  • special guardianship; or
  • a child arrangements order.

The family law team at Miles & Partners is experienced in all legal issues relating to children and their care, and we assist clients sympathetically through every stage of the legal process in becoming a carer for a child.

Special guardianship

A special guardianship order gives you the right to make all day-to-day decisions about a child’s upbringing. Unlike adoption however, the birth parents remain legally the child’s parents and you will have to consult them when making major decisions about the child’s life and the court can order that the birth parents are allowed a certain amount of contact with their child.

In the event there is a dispute about where the child should live, this order can determine that the child should live with their special guardian.

The Local Authority is obliged to provide support to special guardians, and we can negotiate the level of support with the Local Authority as part of our service.

Child Arrangements order

This type of order determines that the child should live with you and allows you to make day-to-day decisions about the child’s care. However, under a child arrangements order, the birth parents are entitled to challenge any type of decision you make, and this type of order is only appropriate when you and the birth parents broadly agree about what is in the child’s best interests.

Limited support from the Local Authority may be available and we can discuss this during the legal process.

Urgent advice if legal proceedings are underway

If legal proceedings concerning a child’s future are already underway you may need to act quickly.

We offer an advice session to explore your legal options and the prospect of securing support from the Local Authority. In certain circumstances where you are not entitled to legal aid, the Local Authority may be willing to fund your legal advice.

Once we understand your circumstances, we will advise what funding might be available and discuss which payment options might work best for you.

Contact us for further advice or help with any aspect of taking legal responsibility for a child.

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