Disputes About Children


The Children Act 1989 is the main source of law applying to relationships between children and their parents. Disputes between separating or separated parents about children are sometimes called private law proceedings. This is because the dispute is between individuals, and is private in the sense that it does not actively involve government agencies concerned with child protection.

Where those government agencies are involved – in the form of a local authority’s social services department – this is because there is a concern about the risk to a child from some feature of family life. The risk may be to the child’s physical, emotional or mental health, and may be active (for example, through abuse) or passive (such as through neglect). Proceedings involving social services are called public law proceedings.

Public law proceedings are a sub-specialism in their own right. We do not undertake public law proceedings, but have good relationships with expert solicitors who do, to whom we would be happy to refer you.

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