Children – Private Law (CAP)

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Becket Chambers provides advice and representation in all cases concerning the arrangements for children (formerly known as contact and residence). Our experienced Family Law team frequently deals with disputes between parents or other family members where contact has broken down.

We act in cases where parents have separated or are in the process of separating, and cannot agree, for example, who the child should live with or what periods of time the child should spend with the other parent. These cases may equally arise from differences of opinion or from allegations against a parent of domestic violence, physical, emotional or sexual abuse or of alcohol or substance abuse.

We are also experienced in cases where a parent wants to move abroad or to another part of the country with the child, or where there are disagreements concerning aspects of a child’s upbringing such as education or religion.

Our expertise:

  • Adoption
  • Disputes over schooling
  • Enforcing visiting rights
  • International relocation applications
  • Medical treatment
  • Name-change
  • Parental responsibility orders
  • Shared care agreements
  • Supervised visiting arrangements

These cases often involve allegations and counter-allegations as well as high levels of hostility.  Many of our Barristers specialising in these areas are parents themselves, and have built their reputations on their sensitive approach to these emotionally charged cases involving the future care and wellbeing of children.

Case Studies

Support for a Father with a Child Arrangements Order

Kevin represented the Father of two children. At an earlier court hearing, the court had made an order that the children should live with their Father and spend time visiting their Mother, including overnight stays. The mother subsequently issued a further application, seeking to increase the amount of time that the children should spend with Continue reading

Child contact dispute

The case involves a High Court challenge to (Judicial Review of) the Council’s Housing Policy whereby individuals with outstanding debts to social housing providers were deemed ineligible for the Council’s Housing List. The Court considered submissions regarding the relevant statutory provisions (sections 160ZA and 166A Housing Act 1996, as amended by the Localism Act 2011). Continue reading

Contested contact dispute

Clive represented a Mother who sought to oppose the Father’s application to have staying contact with his son in a European country in which he was resident. The case involved a number of safeguarding issues including past domestic abuse, failure to seek proper medical treatment for the child and the use of illegal drugs. Clive Continue reading

Permission to remove from the jurisdiction

Clive represented a Mother seeking the permission of the court to remove her children from the jurisdiction so that they could all go and live abroad permanently. The case was of huge importance to the client as it involved a plan for a complete change of lifestyle for her and the children. Clive advised his Continue reading

Keeping a child near to a Father

Marie represented a Father in a case where he had been sharing care of his young child with the Mother after separation. However, there was then a dispute about an incident between the parents and the Police were called. The Mother alleged domestic violence, which was disputed by the Father, and all contact stopped. The Continue reading

Varying a Child Arrangements Order

Marie represented a Mother who had a Child Arrangements Order which she and her ex-husband had made by consent in respect of their two children. This dated back several years. Their arrangements had since evolved, and Marie’s client sought to vary the order to reflect this. However, the Father refused to agree to the changes Continue reading

Children – Private Law (CAP) Articles

The Collaborative Process

Following separation, the traditional process of resolution of issues through correspondence or the court process works for many. But, whether to avoid the long delays caused by court listings, the cost of complying with directions or simply the adversarial nature of disputes, an increasing number are now seeking a more amicable resolution. The collaborative process Continue reading

The revised Practice Direction 12J: Child Arrangements & Contact Order: Domestic Violence and Harm

On Thursday 14th September 2017 the President, Sir James Munby released a Circular about the Cobb Review of PD 12J (commissioned by the President and published in January 2017). Mr. Justice Cobb had also published a draft amended PD 12J with his review, which I addressed in an earlier article for Family Law Week.  The Continue reading

The New CAFCASS Guidance and Private Law Children Proceedings – a new ‘flexible’ friend?

The Chief Executives of Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru have issued new guidance on the use of its officers in private and public law children proceedings. The document, functionally entitled ‘Guidance on the use of professional time to benefit children’, has been issued with the approval and support of the President of the Family Division and Continue reading

Family Children Seminar

Marie Crawford and Gayle Ashley will be presenting a seminar at the View Hotel, Eastbourne on 20th September 2017 from 3.45pm. This seminar will cover a range of topics within Family Children Act proceedings, please contact clerks@becket-chambers.co.uk for more information or to book a place.

Duties towards litigants-in-person: a timely reminder

Peter Jackson J has used a recent case to remind practitioners of the need to adapt normal working practices when dealing with a litigant-in-person. The case, reported as Re B (Litigant in Person: Timely Service of Documents) [2016] EWHC 2365 (Fam), involved the alleged abduction of a child.  The father was represented, the mother was Continue reading

Children Arbitration

Article 1 of the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme Arbitration Rules 2016 (1st Edition, effective, 18th July 2016) “The Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme (“the Children Scheme”) is a scheme under which disputes concerning the exercise of parental responsibility and other private law issues about the welfare of children may be resolved by the determination Continue reading

Big Changes in Children’s Cases where Domestic Abuse is an Issue: New Practice Direction 12 J

The presumption of contact can now (explicitly) be displaced As a result of the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence (APPG) after the publication in January 2016 of the influential Women’s Aid report entitled ‘Nineteen Child Homicides: What must change so children are put first in child contact arrangements and the Continue reading

Myth-busting the collaborative process

In my view there are many reasons why we lawyers should be getting serious about the collaborative process. The first is the over-stretched, over-burdened and under-resourced Court Service, which means that clients have to wait longer than ever for the resolution of their case.  The second is the ever-more-limited resources of clients, and the difficulty Continue reading

Split hearings in private law children cases – how to avoid using a disproportionate amount of resources ?

The President’s Guidance in relation to split hearings issued in May 2010 stated that split hearings “…are taking place when they need not do so and are taking up a disproportionate amount of the Court’s time and resources..”.  Court time and resources have, if anything, become even more scarce today in 2016 so how can Continue reading

Parental Alienation: New Initiatives

Identifying The Problem Court proceedings involving the phenomenon of the ‘excluded parent’ can take many forms. Such cases are variously described as parental alienation/ hostility, intractable contact, chronic litigation disputes etc. There is no definition of these terms but as practitioners we encounter them quite regularly and we recognise them when we see them. Getting Continue reading

Duration of Without Notice Orders

In Re W (Minors) [2016] EWHC 2226 (Fam), Mostyn J provides guidance in respect of the duration of without notice orders. This case concerned three sets of proceedings by the parties following the breakdown of their relationship: High Court proceedings issued by the father; an application by the mother for a non-molestation order in the Continue reading

3 things collaborative law training taught me

A few weeks ago I attended the Resolution training on collaborative law.  For those not acquainted with the concept, collaborative practice looks for a client-led solution to family disputes, with both sides being represented and agreeing their own arrangements at a series of four-way meetings.  The lawyers and parties sign a commitment to work collaboratively, Continue reading

Children – Private Law (CAP) Testimonials

“I have spoken to the client – he was incredibly complementary about you and very pleased with how the hearing went.”

 

Ms T from Solicitors Instructing Marie Crawford – October 17

“…Brilliant news – well done and thank you for all your help. I bet the client is over the moon…”

Mr S from Solicitors instructing Holly Coates – September 17

“Just wanted to say thank you for all you have done for me and my family. We are truly grateful.”

 

Ms M Instructing Clive Styles through Solicitors – May 2017

“…I instructed John in a complex Children Act case. The client was very nervous, and John was able to put his mind at ease, and addressed all the client’s concerns. The client reported specifically that … ‘Although John has a no nonsense approach, he is human, and explained everything fully and was always happy to address my questions, no matter how many times I asked. He was superb in Court, and achieved a fantastic result for me and my family. I can’t thank him enough’

John is a very safe pair of hands, and I will continue to instruct him due to his robust and persuasive advocacy skills, and the way he manages my clients- he consistently goes the extra mile, for which I thank him profusely!…”

Mrs R from a firm of Solicitors instructing John Nee – April 17

“…I have spoken to the client and he asked that I pass on his thanks to you and for everything that you have done for him in these proceedings.  He appreciated all your efforts on his behalf…”

Mr Q from Solicitors instructing Sandria Murkin – March 17

“…I just thought I would let you know that Mrs S was so appreciate of Dean’s help yesterday.  She said his client care manner was brilliant and he made her feel at ease, his attention to detail in remembering minute detail from all the papers he had received amazed her and she would recommend him to any of my client’s in the future….”

Ms H from a firm of Solicitors instructing Dean Thistle – March 17

 “Thanks again for all of Holly’s help, you both made a huge difference and you definitely helped to relieve some of the pressure and  anxiety ……”

 

Mr S Instructing Holly Coates through Solicitors – February 17

“…I have spoken to the client and I would pass on that he said you were absolutely brilliant!…”

Mrs C from a firm of Solicitors instructing Sophie Gray – January 17

“….Thank you so much for assisting the client. He is delighted with the outcome and wants me to thank you on his behalf. It has made a huge difference to his life to know that the child is now safe…”

Mrs B from a firm of Solicitors instructing Dean Thistle – October 16

“…I would like to express my eternal gratitude for your representation on my case…When I first met you I was immediately confident in your services and throughout the case I always felt reassured by your approach, I would certainly recommend you to anyone who was going through the same thing as I had and I will be calling on your services again if the matter ever came back to court…I wish you every success in the future…”

Mrs S instructing Sandria Murkin through Solicitors – August 16

“…We would like to say thank you very much for providing us with Melanie McIintosh and for all of your work on the case…Melanie managed to get it shut down today which is a brilliant result…she was fantastic!…”

Mr C instructing Melanie McIntosh through Solicitors – August 16

“…She is really happy about how the hearing went…She also said that you were a “wonderful Barrister”, very calm (and calming) and she was very happy with all you did at Court and for all of your support!…Thank you again for all of your help with this (and I am passing on the client’s grateful thanks as well!)…”

Mrs S from a firm of Solicitors instructing Ed Kenny – August 16

“…Mr T would like to say thank you very much to Dean for all his work in this matter. Could you please pass his thanks onto Dean and mine too. He has been excellent…”

Mrs B from a firm of Solicitors instructing Dean Thistle – August 16

“…I just wanted to write and let you know my opinion on John Nee. Firstly I would like to thank him for the positive outcome in my case.

I have been extremely pleased with the representation by John at my family matters hearings. He put me at ease very quickly and made me feel that he was in control of the situation.   His robust manner in court was reassuring and made this very stressful time easier to go through. I would have no hesitation in using him again if the need arose and would highly recommend him to anyone who needs his services….”

Ms M instructing John Nee through Solicitors – July 16

“Thanks ever so much for your attendance note and for such a great result.  I
really appreciate this and I know Mr E is delighted.”

Ms U from Instructing Solicitors using Michael Batt – July 16

“…Many thanks to yourself and Ms Gray for all your help with this – the client was, incidentally, delighted with the outcome!…”

Mrs U from a firm of Solicitors instructing Sophie Gray – June 16

“…I am very grateful for all that Mr Edginton has done….Thank you once again for all of the help and assistance that has been afforded to me…”

Miss P instructing Ronald Edginton through the DPA scheme – May 16

“…Thank you for your brilliant help and incredible advice which has made a huge difference to my life…”

Mrs K instructing Louisa Adamson through the DPA scheme – May 16

I would firstly like to thank Ms. Gray for her efforts and support with my case…. Ms. Gray was polite and friendly, during the pre-court discussions she listened to what I had to say and my feeling regarding certain matters, she also showed real empathy and understanding…If I am ever in need of representation in the future, I would request and be very happy to have Ms Gray there for support and representation.

Mr D instructing Sophie Gray through solicitors – April 16

“Many thanks for your note and for achieving such a good result….N is absolutely delighted with your representation”

Mr C from a firm of Solicitors instructing Sandria Murkin – April 16

“Thank you for all your hard work and guidance with these matters. This has been a very difficult time and your advise and effort is vastly appreciated by us all. We are very pleased with what you have managed to achieve given the opposition!!

We wish you all the best and are greatly indebted to you.”

Mr S Instructing Michael Batt through Solicitors – February 16

“Mr C just called to say thank you for getting him the best lawyer. He was very pleased with the outcome of yesterday.”

Miss C from Solicitors instructing Michael Batt – January 16

“Thank you for your assistance with this matter, I have spoken to the client who was very happy with the outcome and she spoke very highly of you.”

Mrs K from Instructing Solicitors instructing Gayle Ashley – January 16

“Holly, thank you so much for all of your help with my brother’s case, he said you did a great job. We are all so relieved about the outcome.”

Ms M on behalf of Mr M instructing Holly Coates through DPA scheme – January 16

I would just like to say thank you I appreciate all your hard work today and the result you achieved I couldn’t have seen a better outcome I am going to email the solicitors to tell them how happy I am with the outcome and will recommend to anyone.

Thanks again for you time and work.

Mr S instructing John Nee through Instructing Solicitors – January 16

“I would like to say how pleased I am with the work that Mr Kevin Jackson provided for me. Mr Jackson was efficient and helpful, he also helped me to feel at ease on a very stressful day and had an extensive legal knowledge which helped provide me with a favourable outcome at court. I would recommend Mr Jackson to anyone looking for a barrister.”

Ms W instructing Kevin Jackson through DPA scheme – January 16

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you, from the moment you came aboard the case, you turned everything around and I truly believe that if it wasn’t for your hard work , I wouldn’t have got the result I did. So from me and my children thank you so much.”

Mr R instructing Marie Crawford through Instructing Solicitors – December 15

“Thank you so much for your help with this. You certainly had a calming and reassuring effect  throughout the process. I am immensely grateful for the overall outcome …”

Ms C instructing Kevin Jackson through the DPA scheme – October 2015

“Please thank Mr Thistle for today who was extremely helpful and professional. I would not hesitate to recommend his services. I am so grateful that he is representing me.”

Ms R instructing Dean Thistle through Instructing Solicitors – November 15

“Just a brief message to extend my gratitude at your help….Realistically, I could not have hoped for a better outcome…I will be eternally grateful for your assistance.”

Mr W instructing Edward Kenny through Solicitors – November 15

“I would like to thank you and your colleagues for your professional handling of my case.

Your prompt communication felt very reassuring and it was pleasure to speak to you on all occasions.”

Miss M instructing Kevin Jackson through the DPA scheme – October 15

 

“….you deliver a fantastic service to me, you are always on time, you report back to me with detailed AN, if not the same day, within the next 24 hours….you are always available to offer advice where needed and will help guide me in the right direction if required….you are very fair and sympathetic, but at the same time will often give very stern constructive advice when a client needs it the most….”

Miss K from a firm of solicitors instructing John Nee – July 15

“….I have spoken to the client this afternoon and he has asked me to thank you for your assistance and said you were fantastic….”

Mr F instructing John Nee through Solicitors – April 15

“….very happy with the way Mr Newton dealt with the case….he was amazing and brilliant and ‘A’ is very happy with the outcome….”

Mr M instructing Philip Newton through Solicitors – March 15

“….Excellent in all areas….financially it was less expensive….i personally felt that because I was able to have direct contact with the barrister that communicating was easier, I felt in control of what was said and put across, essentially it was cutting out the middleman….definitely worth it….”

Mrs S instructing Louisa Adamson through the DPA scheme – November 14

“….i feel they have an exact idea of the case as my Barrister has represented me for 5 years and we have a good understanding between us….i think the service overall has been wonderful through from the Clerks to my Barrister….”

Mrs B instructing Sandria Murkin through the DPA scheme & Instructing Solicitors – 2009 – 2014

“….That is WONDERFUL news, Mr B will be thrilled…thank you so much for all your hard work….”

Mrs W from a firm of Solicitors instructing Holly Coates – October 14

“….im sure he will be a QC one day and has a very big future ahead of him. To anyone who might consider using him, John is a seriously impressive barrister who fills you with confidence from the second you meet him….if he charged twice as much as he does he would still be worth every penny….”

Mr O instructing John Nee through the DPA scheme – August 14

“….Thank you for being my voice in court and doing such a wonderful job….i feel truly blessed to have had the benfit of your experience and knowledge which has made a big difference to the lives of me and my son”

Mrs W instructing Sandria Murkin through Instructing Solicitors – May 14

“….from start to finish i found you to be completely professional….whilst in court your expertise and experience really shone through….i could never have gone to court without you….you were most certainly worth every penny….”

Mrs S instructing Louisa Adamson through the DPA scheme – February 14

“….Corey was wonderful. He constantly reassured me throughout the process…..your service is fantastic….”

Mrs S instructing Corey Mills through Instructing Solicitors – January 2014