Our Family Law Solicitors provide bespoke advice to parents and other relevant parties, on all areas of both Private and Public Law proceedings. We provide clear advice on all legal remedies available in relation to contact and residence of the child/ren, together with Prohibited Steps and Specific Issue Orders. We further advise on areas such as Child abduction and Wardship proceedings.
In cases where Social Services have intervened, our specialist team provide advice in all areas, including Care Order proceedings, Secure Accommodation Order and Freeing to Adopt proceedings.
We can also assist in Private Law proceedings, if you are applying to adopt a child, or if you are objecting to someone trying to adopt your child.
Grainne Heaney, Head of the Family Department, is on both the Children Order Panel, and also the Children’s Court Guardian Panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following the breakdown of a parental relationship, parents will often disagree on where the child should reside. A Residence Order formally establishes where the child shall reside, and regularly coincides with a Contact Order to the non resident parent. Whilst the resident parent will essentially make day to day decisions in regard to the child, it is important to remember that when making major decision such as what school the child should go to, a possible name change or a significant move, that the agreement of any parent holding parental responsibility be obtained.
A Residence Order can, where required, can be sought on an Ex parte basis that is without the other party having notice. Such applications are generally made when a child has been wrongly removed or to preserve the current arrangement, when there is a threat of removal. Such applications can be made to the court on the same day as instructions are received.
Where such urgency doesn’t exist, the application shall be given a listing date, with both parties having the opportunity to make representations in regard to the application. At times we may find it appropriate to refer the matter to the Court Childrens Officer who can provide recommendations, further to speaking to the parties and often the children when old enough.
A care order essentially places a child under the care of a local Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust. The Trust then share parental responsibility for the child with the parents and will make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as where they live and what school they go to.
The Trust will need to prove the following, in order to obtain an Order -
- the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm
- the harm is caused by the child’s parents
- the harm would be caused because not enough care would be given to the child by the parents in the future
- the child is likely to suffer harm because they are beyond parental control
When a care order is made, it requires the local Trust to look after the child and provide them with accommodation and care. The Trust is responsible for the child’s welfare while the order is in place. A care order can last until the child becomes 18 unless it comes to an end earlier by the child being adopted, a residence order being made or the court discharges the order.
It is imperative that early advice is sought, to ensure effective advice is given in relation to undertaking the relevant assessments and obtaining expert guidance to ensure the best outcome, and rehabilitation achieved where possible.
Parental Responsibility is defined as “All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent – known as ‘parental responsibility’.
If you have parental responsibility, your most important roles are to:
- provide a home for the child
- protect and maintain the child
You’re also responsible for:
- Ensuring the child’s education is provided for
- agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
- naming the child and agreeing to any change of name
- looking after the child’s property
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.
A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s:
- married to the child’s mother
- named on the birth certificate
Parental Responsibility can also be obtained by –
- Parties executing a Parental responsibility agreement. We can provide effective legal advice, drafting the relevant agreement.
- Apply for a Parental Responsibility order. If you want parental responsibility but can’t agree on same with the mother, you can apply for a court order.
- Parental Responsibility is obtained if a Residence Order is granted.
With parental responsibility you have the right to be involved in all major decisions in your child life. This can be anything that significantly affects their upbringing such as education, medical treatment or religion.
Everyday decisions are left up to the parent who has residence of the child.
The legal system recognises the importance of grandparents and offers an opportunity to apply through the court system for a contact order if necessary. Grandparents do not have an automatic right to make that application and you would have to apply to the court for permission/leave to do so but provided that it can be shown that the grandparent have had a meaningful and close relationship with the grandchildren then the court is likely to grant permission to be able to pursue an application for contact.
When a family’s circumstances change, it is not uncommon for parents to want those changes to be recognised. When a parent remarries, we are sometimes asked if a child’s surname can be changed to that of the Step- parent. Further in scenarios where a parent no longer has any contact, or has never engaged in contact, the resident parent may seek to change the child’s name from that of the absent parent to their own surname.
Where parents disagree about whether a child’s name should be changed, an application may be made to the Court. The parent wishing to change the child’s name can apply for a Specific Issue Order.
A parent who understands the resident parent is changing their child’s name without their consent can issue a Prohibited Steps Order.
Data Privacy & Protection
Experts in data protection and privacy
If you have been the victim of a data protection breach or incident, please contact with Stewarts Solicitors. We are experts in the field and can help you explore your entitlement to compensation.
Contact Stewarts Solicitors
Our initial consultations are free of charge and obligation free. Please contact us to arrange an initial meeting.
Personal Injury is used to describe any type of injury you suffer due to someone else’s lack of care and attention or negligent behaviour.
Personal Injury claims usually arise from someone else’s negligence and can involve many different situations such as an accident at work, a slip, trip or fall, or being involved in a car accident. The resulting injury can be serious and life-changing, with long term health and financial implications.
Our personal injury solicitors have secured compensation in many different types of personal injury actions.
Road Traffic Accidents
You can claim compensation for road traffic accident injuries if the accident was caused by the fault of another motorist, person or party. You can claim compensation if you were injured as a driver, a passenger, and a pedestrian or if you were riding a motorbike a bicycle or a horse at the time of the accident. You can also claim if you are partly to blame for the accident.
Accident & Injury at Work
When at work you expect to be in an environment where the proper measures have been taken by your employer to adhere to Statutory Duties to protect you in the workplace, whether it be an office, factory or your place of trade. If you have sustained an injury as a result of an accident at work it can be daunting to know where to begin in making a claim for compensation against your employer.
Injuries in Public Places
All companies have a duty of care to visitors to their premises, including members of the public or employees from other companies, to ensure that they are not at risk of injury while visiting them. If it can be proved that insufficient Health & Safety provisions were made; then you may well be entitled to get compensation.
Councils also have a responsibility to ensure that all pavements, roads and bridle paths are clear of defects and well-maintained to avoid accidents.
Unfortunately a large number of people fall victim to an accident abroad, contracting an illness or suffering from an unforeseen injury. Any accident, illness or injury suffered of holiday can of course cause pain and upset, and in addition, often results in disruption to the remaining time spent abroad. However in circumstances such as these there are laws in place to protect those who are the victim of an incident abroad which occurred as the result of circumstances outside of their control.
Asbestos Related Illnesses
Asbestos can be very dangerous. It does not present a health risk if it is undisturbed, but if material containing asbestos is chipped, drilled, broken or allowed to deteriorate, it can release a fine dust that contains asbestos fibres.
Sexual & Physical Abuse
We do understand how extremely difficult it is to come forward and talk about any sexual or physical abuse that you or a close family member has suffered. We know how traumatic the recollection of events can be, and our solicitors will do all they can to ensure that you feel safe and secure throughout the claims process.
In any abuse claim, the abuse of trust can be the most difficult aspect to come to terms with. If you have been subjected to abuse from someone who was in a position of trust, such as a carer, parent or professional, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Hearing Loss Claims
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) also known as Industrial Hearing Loss, is a work related condition that results in the loss of hearing (often over a prolonged period of time) as a consequence of a person’s working environment. Hearing loss often appears years, if not decades later from the original exposure meaning many people do not identify their work as the cause.
Motoring & Criminal
Stewarts Solicitors has a long tradition of skilled representation in criminal proceedings. We provide essential advice and representation in all local criminal Courts and at Police Stations.
In this area of law, it is essential that clients are able to rely upon the skill and experience of their Solicitor to protect their legal rights and personal freedom at all times. Our motoring & driving law department has a highly qualified team with many years of experience.
We cover the whole of Northern Ireland an appear at criminal courts in Antrim Court Solicitors; Armagh Court Solicitors; Ballymena Court Solicitors; Banbridge Court Solicitors; Coleraine Court Solicitors; Craigavon Court Solicitors; Downpatrick Court Solicitors; Dungannon Court Solicitors; Enniskillen Court Solicitors; Laganside Court Solicitors; Magistrates Court Solicitors; Limavady Court Solicitors; Lisburn Court Solicitors; Londonderry Court Solicitors; Derry Court Solicitors; Magherafelt Court Solicitors; Newry Court Solicitors; Newtownards Court Solicitor; Omagh Court Solicitors and Strabane Court Solicitors.
Our experienced family law department offers a full range of services to assist those going through a breakdown in their family relationship.
Many of our divorce solicitors and separation solicitors are also certified Collaborative lawyers, an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes through non-confrontational communication.
Our Family Solicitors encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of any children or dependants.
Our domestic violence and protection from harassment solicitors offer a free initial consultation about domestic violence or abuse in a relationship. The law seeks to protect those people who find themselves in situations where they are subjected to such abuse. The family courts have the ability to make non-molestation and occupation orders and we can help you apply for an ‘injunction’ if you’ve been the victim of domestic violence.
Many of our children law solicitors are accredited members of the Children Order Panel. Our children lawyers are experienced in assisting parents and guardians of children by providing sound, clear advice on the legal requirements and the legal remedies available in relation to parental responsibility, contact and residence of children, together with Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders. We can also assist in Private Law proceedings, if you are applying to adopt a child, or if you are objecting to someone trying to adopt your child.
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