When it comes to your Family and Children, only the very best will do and our team of experienced professionals are here to deliver just that.

We are one of the largest Family & Child Law Departments in the South East and our dedicated and specialist team of Family & Child Law Solicitors have expertise in dealing with individuals; adoption and fostering agencies; Courts and Family Law organisations both in the UK and abroad. We can help you to resolve a wide range of issues including:

  • Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act matters
  • Non Molestation Orders
  • Surrogacy
  • Residence Orders
  • Placement
  • Public Law / Social Services issues
  • Special Guardianship
  • Secure Accommodation Order
  • Wardship Contact


Abduction can be from the UK, or into the UK.  There are a number of international agreements that govern child abduction.

Things You Can Do Before a Child is Abducted

If you are have concerns about the risk of a child abduction from the UK you should immediately seek legal advice.  You can also consult Reunite who have produced a very helpful Child Abduction Prevention Guide and they also provide the only UK based telephone advice line specialising in international parental child abduction and the movement of children across international borders.  Call +44(0)1162556234.

Where there is a real risk of abduction the Court can make a Prohibited Steps Order,  prohibiting the removal of the child from the UK, or preventing anyone applying for passports/travel documents. These orders can, where there is a real urgency, be applied for without notice to the other parent.  It may also be possible to obtain an “All Ports Warning” through the Police.

Things You Can Do After a Child has been Abducted.

If a child has been abducted from the UK you should consult the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit. They are the Central Authority for the UK, and can assist you in obtaining legal advice and representation to pursue an application in the country to which your child has been abducted.  You should also consult a solicitor quickly  as sometimes it is possible to obtain orders in the High Court which assist in obtaining the return of your child to this country. 

If a child has been abducted into the UK you should consult your Central Authority.  You may be entitled to free legal representation to make an application to the High Court for return of your child to your country.  If so your Central Authority will send your details to the UK Central Authority who will appoint a solicitor to represent you.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 deals with abduction from the child’s country of habitual residence, or retention at the end of an agreed period outside the county of habitual residence, and with securing contact/access.  In the case of abduction into or retention in the UK, the Central Authority will appoint a solicitor for you who will apply for non means tested legal aid to represent you.

Brussels II Revised applies to cases between members of the European Union except Denmark.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", especially children who are at risk of abduction.  Our expert Family Solicitors have years of experience dealing with all aspects of Family Law.

It is important to act quickly, so if your child has been abducted or retained after a visit, consult us as soon as possible.  If you would like to talk in confidence to one of our team of specialist family solicitors call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.

Adoption is an exciting but daunting journey for child and parent alike. When you adopt a child the Court makes you that child's legal parent. An adoption order is permanent and cannot be reversed. Any single person or couple who live together, whether married or in a civil partnership, heterosexual or same-sex partners, can adopt a child.

Who can Adopt?

Single individuals or couples can adopt, and it is not necessary to be married or in a civil partnership.  There are no restrictions based on sexual orientation or religion.

A  single adopter or one of a couple must be domiciled in a part of the British Isles; or the single adopter or both members of a couple must have been habitually resident in a part of the British Isles for a period of not less than one year immediately before the date of the application.  The adopters must generally be at least 21 years old.

The child must live with the adopter(s) for a period before an application for an adoption order can be made.  That period depends on the circumstances;

  • Children placed for adoption by local authorities - 10 weeks
  • Step parent adoptions - 6 months
  • Local authority foster carers - 1 year
  • Children brought into the UK for the purposes of adoption - 6 months (if the regulations have been complied with or 1 year if they have not)
  • Every one else - not less than 3 years (whether continuous or not) during the period of 5 years preceding the application

If the parent(s) or guardian of the child do not consent to adoption, an order can only be made if the Court dispenses with their consent on the grounds that the parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent, or the child’s welfare requires it.

Adoption of Children from Local Authority Care

Prospective adopters apply to a local authority or independent adoption agency to be assessed and approved to adopt.  The assessment and approval process generally takes about 6 months. Once approved, the adopter(s) can be matched with a child, and the child placed with them. An adoption application can be lodged with the Court once the child has been in the adoptive placement for 10 weeks. Before a child in care can be placed for adoption by a local authority, the Court has to make a Placement Order authorising the local authority to place the child for adoption. That Placement Order deals with the issue of parental consent. Where a Placement Order has been made the parent(s) or guardian cannot oppose the adoption application unless they have obtained permission from the Court. Permission is not often granted. A Placement Order will generally have been made immediately after the court dealt with the care proceedings

Adoption of Children from Abroad

These adoptions fall into two categories, those effected under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption 1993, and those from non Hague Convention countries.
Anyone who is habitually resident in the British Isles must be assessed as a prospective adopter before bringing a child into the UK for adoption, or bringing a child into the UK a child adopted under an external adoption order in the last six months.

In the case of a Hague Convention adoption, where at least one of the adopters was a British citizen at the time of adoption and  the adopting parent ( or if joint adoption both of them) were habitually resident in the UK at the time of the final adoption order, then the child will automatically become a British citizen. The adoption order will be automatically recognised.

In non Hague Convention cases the adoption order is not normally recognised under UK Law, and it is necessary to apply to adopt the child in this country.  If the adopter, or one of them (if a couple), is a British national, the child will acquire British citizenship on adoption.  The adoption application cannot be lodged until the child has lived with the adopters for 6 months if the regulations have been complied with and 1 year if they have not. In such adoptions it is necessary to have the consent of the parent(s)/guardian of the child, or to apply to dispense with consent.

Step Parent Adoptions

The child must have lived with the step parents for a period of 6 months before the application is made, and before applying to the Court, the adopter has to give three months notice to their local authority of their intention to apply for an adoption order. The local authority will conduct an assessment and make recommendation to the Court. The consent of a birth mother/father with parental responsibility will be needed, or will have to be dispensed with. It is likely that even if the birth father does not have parental responsibility (all birth mothers have parental responsibility) the local authority will contact him and seek his views.  If the adoption is opposed, the Court will normally appoint a Children’s Guardian to represent the child and to advise the Court on the child’s best interests.

Adoptions by Foster Carers

Sometimes foster carers want to adopt their foster children. They can ask the local authority to assess them as adopters and then formally place the child with them for adoption, or they can make a non agency application ( for example where the local authority in whose care the child is does not support the adoption). The child must have lived with the foster carers for a year before an application can be made. Three months notice has to be given to the foster carers’ own local authority, and that too can only be given once the child has lived with them for a year, or the Court gives permission for notice to be given early. The adopters will need the consent of the birth parent(s) with parental responsibility or will need apply to dispense with their consent as any placement order will not be effective.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those going through the adoption process.

The adoption process is fairly technical, and involves getting the steps right, we can advise you on the best approach and help you draw up the documents.  Our Family Solicitors are experts with many years experience in all aspects of Family Law.  If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case or want to talk to one of our specialist Family Lawyers, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.

Where social services are involved the process can seem frightening and frustrating for the family involved, particularly where a child is being removed from home. It is very important to contact a solicitor as soon as possible. We will advise you of the rights/responsibilities that you, your children and family have. We will ensure that your views are heard

Our team of solicitors includes 13 members of the Law Society Children Panel, meaning they are all experts in this area of work. Free public funding is usually available to cover your legal fees. We also deal with emergency protection orders, secure accommodation and placement order applications.

Giving the best for our children is the most important thing we can do. We understand that family life is important to all of us.

We have a dedicated and specialist team of Family & Child Law Solicitors. We are now one of the largest Family & Child Law Departments in the South East of the country. Our expertise is such that we advise individuals; national organisations, including adoption and fostering agencies; and organisations with family related legal issues abroad.

We are sympathetic and supportive through out. Our solicitors will conduct your case in an efficient, positive and considerate way. We find good results are achieved by working closely with clients and building up relationships of trust and mutual respect. Our experience of local services such as mediation, coupled with a sound knowledge of the law, means that we can support you through the difficult decisions you may have to make.

We are very experienced at dealing with both private and publicly funded (legal aid) clients.

All issues relating to families and children are handled within our firm by our experienced team. We undertake the majority of our own advocacy ensuring continuity of representation.

Your child is the most important thing to you and working to achieve a constructive approach after separation is the best way for children to feel secure and to maintain relationships with all the important people in their lives.

We appreciate how frustrating it can be if you are not seeing your child despite an agreement or court order to do so.

We regularly advise on Contact arrangements or enforcement to resolve how often children see the parent they do not live with day-to-day. We will work with you closely and sympathetically.   We can bring our extensive experience and our collaborative work approach to help deliver a quick solution to your problem. 

Whether you know a child who needs a Court Deputy, or are interested in becoming one yourself, we can help

Our in house Deputies already manage the affairs of many children unable to do so for themselves, and can offer advice to those seeking more information on the enrolment process.  We act in the strictest confidence, and we will work with you closely to make sure we fulfill your needs.

In cases of domestic violence you need support and guidance immediately.

Keeley Lengthorn
Keeley Lengthorn
Partner - Family & Child Law

We will respond quickly and efficiently to any request for advice, assistance and representation. 

We can help you to apply for an injunction following verbal abuse, violence or threats of violence or harassment (including through social media).  This can be in the form of a non-molestation order, an occupation order or a Protection from Harassment order which can be obtained to not only protect you (and any children) from violence, but also to sort out who stays in the home. 

Same day appointments are available for the most urgent of cases whenever possible, and we can often get to Court the same day.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is To make quality legal services accessible to everyone, especially those at risk of domestic violence.  If you would like to talk in confidence to one of our team of specialist family solicitors call us today on 0203 551 8500 or  use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.

It is often thought that grandparents and wider family do not have any rights. This is not correct.

We are very experienced in supporting grandparents and family members in all areas of family law, whether it is getting to see their grandchildren, supporting the parent(s) in their care, or where appropriate taking on their grandchildren’s care. Get in touch

Surrogacy is an exciting journey for new parents and surrogates alike but can be fraught if expectations and responsibilities are not clear and binding at the beginning

Whether you have just started thinking about surrogacy or are already deep in the process we can offer advice, guidance and support.  All our conversations will be in strict confidence.  We are proud to work in a considered, positive way and would be pleased to help you in this next phase of your journey.  Get in touch.

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