Family Law

Legal issues involving relationships and children can be highly emotional, which is why our trusted solicitors are here to offer continuous support.

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Family Law Solicitors London & Southeast

At Appleman Legal, our family lawyers offer pragmatic advice with sensitivity and discretion, and will explain your options fully so you can make the important decisions for your family with confidence. We will guide you through the whole process, ensuring you are supported at every stage of your legal matter.


Child Abduction

Child Contact & Residence

Cohabitation agreements

Prenuptial agreements

Prohibited Steps Order

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Specific Issue Order


Adoption is the legal process that transfers parental responsibility from the child's birth parents to the adoptive parents. Our team can support you at all stages of the process; from adoption applications to understanding your rights. 

Legal requirements to adopt a child

    You need to be at least 21 years old
    A resident in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the last year
    Have no criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or sexual offences (including anybody in your household)

There are no restrictions on marital status, home ownership status, disability, religion or race. 

Do I need consent from the birth parents?

The birth parent will usually need to approve the adoption since it will result in them losing parental responsibility for the child. There are certain circumstances where this is not necessary, including when the birth parent cannot be found, cannot consent or is a risk to the child.
Dealing with the legal formalities involved in adoption can be overwhelming. Whether you're looking to adopt a child overseas or adopt your partner's child, get in touch with one of our adoption specialist to discuss your circumstances today.


Looking to adopt a child?

Child Law Solicitors London & Southeast

Speak with a member of our team today to discuss your particular circumstances.

Child Abduction

Child abduction occurs where one parent takes their children to an overseas country without a relevant court order or consent of the other parent. 

My child is at risk of being abducted - what do I do?

The courts can intervene and issue a prohibited steps order or a specific issue order if you suspect the other parent may take your child outside the UK without your consent.
To stop the other parent having access to the child and therefore eliminating the risk of abduction, a Child Arrangements Order (which deals with who the child lives with and what contact they have with the other parent) can be issued. 
A Ward of Court Order may also be issued, meaning that the court will decide what is in the best interests of the child. However, this order has various legal implications so you must take legal advice before pursuing this option.

What if the threat is imminent?

The police can be contacted if the threat is imminent (within the next two days) to request a “port alert”, meaning all points of departure from the UK are notified to prevent the child from being allowed to leave. This would remain in place for 28 days. It is also possible to obtain a court order to prevent the child from being issued with a passport.
Whether your child is at risk of being taken, or has already been taken, it is imperative to act now. Child abduction can be extremely traumatic and we understand the importance of getting your child home as quickly and safely as possible. Contact our lawyers for immediate legal advice and support today.


Child Contact & Residence

One of the hardest aspects of a divorce is deciding who the child will live with and the contact they will have with the other parent. To avoid any added stress during the divorce, it is always advisable to resolve these issues as amicably as possible, particularly for the children. 


What happens if you cannot come to an agreement on your child's living arrangements?

In circumstances where you cannot agree on the child's arrangements, you might consider mediation to try and resolve the situation. If, after mediation, you still cannot come to a decision, you can apply for a court order. There are various court orders that you may apply for, but generally you will need a 'Child Arrangements Order' to decide on your child's living situation and contact with each parent. Other orders that you might apply for include a Prohibited Steps Order, a Specific Issue Order or a Consent Order.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is a court order stating the living and contact arrangements for your child or children. They replaced Residence and Contact Orders, which were issued before 2014.

Prohibited Steps Order and Specific Issue Order

A Prohibited Steps Order is a court order used to stop your child's other parent from making certain decisions about your child’s upbringing. This could prevent them from moving school or nursery, changing their last name or taking them out of the country. This is different from a Specific Issue Order.
A Specific Issue Order grants permission for a particular action to be taken involving your child where there is dispute, such as allowing you to take your child abroad permanently . When making any type of order, the courts will always prioritise the child's needs over the parents since their interests are regarded as paramount.  
For specialist legal assistance with arrangements for children, speak with our child lawyers today by clicking the button below.

Ensure the protection of your financial interests

Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers in London & Southeast, England

Speak with a member of our team today to discuss your particular circumstances.

Cohabitation agreements

If you are living with your partner and make the decision to separate, you have much less protection if you are not married. Therefore, it is important that you get expert legal advice to secure the best outcome for you and your family.

In the UK, there is no such thing as a “common law” marriage. The law assumes that any jointly owned assets are divided equally without ongoing financial obligations to each other (this is presuming there are no children involved). Unlike a divorcing couple, there is no entitlement to maintenance payments or any form of financial settlement.

What is cohabitation agreement and why should I have one?

If you live with your partner, or you are planning on living together, you can enter into a cohabitation agreement. This agreement sets out your financial responsibilities should you make the decision to split up.

As a cohabitation agreement is a legal document, it means that it is enforceable by the court if it is properly executed and providing you have both been honest about your finances and each obtained legal advice.

This can be a difficult conversation to have with your partner, but drawing up such an agreement now means that it is usually easier to make fair and rational decisions for all involved should your relationship come to an end. At Appleman Legal, our family law solicitors can help with all aspects of cohabitation law, including helping you with a cohabitation agreement. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your circumstances.


Prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement can help protect finances and assets and avoid lengthy disputes if you and your partner separate It is important that you take expert legal advice if you are considering a prenuptial agreement to make sure that it correctly protects your interests and those of your family.


A prenuptial agreement is a formal written document drawn up by a couple before they get married or enter into a civil partnership. The document details how a couple's finances and will be divided if the relationship ends. 

Advantages of a prenuptial agreement

There are various reasons why such an agreement might be useful for a couple and why they are growing in popularity:

    If one party already has substantial wealth before the start of the marriage, then a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect this wealth if the relationship breaks down.
    There may be certain assets owned by one party that they want to remain in their possession.
    They can be used to protect businesses already in existence before the marriage was entered into.
    Prenuptial agreements can be used to protect one of the parties from having to take on substantial debts from the other party.

While prenuptial agreements might seem unromantic, having these discussions when the relationship is in a positive place can be beneficial in the long term.  
If you would like to discuss your situation further then please get in touch with the team at Appleman Legal.

Need advice?

Child Law Lawyers in London & Southeast, England

Speak with a member of our team today to discuss your particular circumstances.

Prohibited Steps Order

A Prohibited Steps Order prevents a parent from taking action in relation to the child for whom they hold parental responsibility. An Order can be made where there is a disagreement about a fundamental issue relating to a child's welfare and upbringing and where a Court Order does not already exist to address it.

Prohibited Steps Orders are typically obtained to stop a parent from taking certain actions without permission of the Court. This may include: 

     Removing a child from the United Kingdom
    Changing a child’s surname
    Removing a child from school

The Court will only make a Prohibited Steps Order where it is considered to be in the best interests of the child to do so. Orders can be made for children under the age of 16 who are not in the care of a Local Authority.

Who can make a Prohibited Steps Order?

Only those with parental responsibility can apply for an Order to be made. This could be a parent, guardian, or the person named in a Child Arrangements Order. The Order will usually last until a child reaches the age of 16.

What if someone doesn’t comply with the Order?

Breaching an order will amount to contempt of Court and can be punishable by a variety of sanctions including a fine or in extreme cases, imprisonment. For assistance with making a Prohibited Steps Order, speak with a member of our family law team today. 


Specific Issue Orders

A Specific Issue Order can be made by the Court to solve a disagreement that has arisen, or may arise, in relation to one particular aspect of a child's upbringing. It is different from a Prohibited Steps Order in that it seeks to answer a specific question rather than preventing one of the parents from doing something.


The law gives permission to the following people to apply for a Specific Issue Order:

    A parent, guardian, or special guardian
    A person with parental responsibility granted by s.4A of the Children Act
    Any person named on a Child Arrangement Order

Other parties can apply for a Specific Issue Order if they obtain permission from the Court to do so.

Is there an age limit for a Specific Issue Order?

Orders can only be made if a child is under the age of 16 and, as such, the Specific Issue Order will automatically end when the child turns 16 years old.

What can a Specific Issue Order be used for?

The Order can address and resolve disagreements relating to a variety of matters, including:

    Which school a child should attend
    Medical treatment
    Changing a child’s last name
    Whether a child can be removed from the United Kingdom

The Court will always put the child’s welfare first when determining the issue. If you would like legal guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, speak with a member of our family law team today.

Child & Family Law Solicitors London & Southeast

If you would like legal guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, speak with a member of our family law team today. For advice and support with your family matter, complete the online contact form now.