Child Law

We support vulnerable children and their families across Hertfordshire, London and the Northern Home Counties

should children return to school covid 19

Child Law

We support vulnerable children and their families across Hertfordshire, London and the Northern Home Counties


Whether it is helping to guide you through the complex court process of care proceedings, providing sympathetic but practical advice if Social Services have worries about a child, or resolving arrangements for children in care our team of expert family lawyers have many years’ experience in this complex area of law.

We’ll guide you all the way through. We can give you initial advice, assist with negotiations, support you through child protection conferences and pre-court processes. We can represent you in court if this is necessary. We know how stressful this can be –we’ll help you to focus on the welfare of your child and trying to keep the family together, to achieve the best outcome.

As accredited members of the Law Society’s Children Panel we regularly handle cases for parents, children or for other relatives where social services are involved and concerns of child protection or abuse are raised.

At Bretherton Law we use plain English – not legal jargon. We’ll explain everything in a way that’s clear and easy to understand. We will explain the costs and timescales involved up front so you always know what to expect. We’ll see if you can get help with your fees through Legal Aid.

To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.


  • Legal Aid available in some circumstances
  • An experienced, friendly and accessible team
  • Members of Resolution
  • Law Society Lexcel and Children Panel accreditations

We have worked with and supported many families who have experienced Social Services’ intervention. With our help and a willingness from parents and extended family to work towards a long term solution to family problems, there can be a happy ending. Our case studies illustrate some success stories.

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    Our Child Law Services
    • Care proceedings and child protection

      We regularly act for parents, family members and children in complex cases where child abuse or neglect are of concern to the authorities. Our specialist team is one of the largest in Hertfordshire. With experienced solicitors including members of the Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation Panel, you’ll be in safe hands.

      If Social Services are worried about the safety or welfare of a child, the Local Authority has a legal duty to investigate. If they consider that the child is not safe they may start a court process known as care proceedings. They may ask the court to make a care order for the child, which means that the Local Authority will have responsibility for the child, making decisions about their welfare – such as where they live, who cares for them and what contact they will have with family members.

      Sometimes the Local Authority will carry out formal assessments before taking court proceedings – this process can be through Child in Need, Child Protection or the Public Law Outline. We can help and advise you if your family is undergoing this process. You could be eligible for Legal Aid.

      It will be a confusing and stressful time – particularly if you don’t agree with the decisions that the authorities are making. You will need experts on your side. At Bretherton Law we help families through these complex processes. Our expert solicitors will explain what’s happening at every step of the way, in simple terms that are easy to understand. We can come to meetings with you, and provide support and the representation you need if the case goes to court.

      If Social Services tell you that they intend to take your child into care, we can help you understand what will happen next. We’ll advise you how and when to challenge their decisions. We’ll explain how your child will be cared for and let you know what rights you and your child have. We can discuss other options, such as family placements, and help you with contact arrangements if your child is separated from you.

      If Social Services are involved with your family, and you need help and support, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our friendly and approachable solicitors will put you at ease and answer any concerns you may have. Legal Aid may well be available for you.  If you are not eligible for Legal Aid we will explain what the options are for funding our fees.

      To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.

    • Adoption

      If you wish to adopt a child, whether within the UK or from abroad, or are facing the possibility of losing a child to adoption, having expert legal advice is essential. Bretherton Law can support you in this highly complex legal area.

      The decision to adopt a child starts a complicated legal process.

      Bretherton Law has specialist family lawyers who can advise you on the adoption process, criteria assessments and procedure. We clearly outline timescales, costs and the legal and practical requirements at every stage of the adoption process.

      If you face having a child removed, we can act for you too. You could be entitled to Legal Aid.

      To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.


      If you are the parent or relative of a child who has been taken into care, you’ll naturally want to be sure that they are being well looked after. You may wish to challenge certain decisions that are being made about the child’s welfare or you may want to make arrangements to have more contact with the child.

      Whatever situation you are facing, we’re here to provide the support you need. We can help you understand decisions made by the Local Authority or by the court and we can explain what rights you and the child have.

      If you are a child in care, we can help you too. Our knowledgeable and approachable family law solicitors will put you at ease whilst explaining what options are available to you.

      To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.


      If social services are concerned about your child they have a duty to investigate – this could lead to a Child in Need, or Child Protection, Plan. If their concerns remain, or if they believe your child is at immediate risk of harm, they may begin Care Proceedings.   As a parent you should be able to apply for legal aid – and our expert solicitors at Bretherton Law can help you at every stage.

      A social worker may ask you to agree to your child living with someone else, possibly while assessments are underway. We can advise you whether to agree, and what the next steps are.

      As a relative you may be asked to look after that child. This could be an “informal” arrangement, as a kinship carer or as a potential Special Guardian. You should ask for our help.

      This is a very complex area of law where you need an expert by your side. It’s an emotional time for you all. We can advise you about the legal implications and pitfalls, the possible solutions and options for support – short-term and longer term.

      One order the court can make is a Special Guardianship Order. This grants parental responsibility to non-parents who are caring for children until they are 18, and aims to provide a secure placement whilst preserving the legal link with the child’s natural birth parents.  This enables the special guardian(s) to make day-to-day decisions on behalf of the child, for example in relation to their education and the contact they have with others.

      LEGAL AID?

      If you are a grandparent, aunt or uncle or a family friend who is caring for a child and who wishes to apply for a Special Guardianship Order, we can advise you and in certain circumstances, you may be eligible for legal aid.

      To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.


      Changing a child’s name may be difficult, depending on the circumstances. It usually requires everyone who shares parental responsibility for the child to agree to the change. It may be necessary to apply to the court for an order. The court will need to consider all the circumstances and look at what is in the child’s best interests.

      To arrange your appointment call 01727 869293 or book online.


    You treated me with respect and I understood everything.

    Experienced, qualified solicitors. Very polite.

    Words can never express our family’s gratitude.

    Sandra, thank you for all your help and support. You’ve made it possible for us to be the girls’ special guardian. We are indebted to you.

    Helpful and understanding and solved the problem for me – Thanks.

    Latest News in Child Law

    Contact post adoption

    Shortage of Places for Children in Care

    Since September, 2019, it has been illegal for local authorities to place children in care under the age of 16 in unregulated homes. At the same time it has been illegal for companies to run unregistered children’s homes, and although exemptions exist to allow unregulated placements for holidays or leisure activities it is feared that
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    child arrangement order

    My child is in care – can I apply to discharge the Care Order?

    Following care proceedings where a child has been made the subject of a Care Order, most parents hope that one day the Care Order will be discharged and the child can return home to them. Whether that is realistic depends on a number of factors. The timing of an application is also key. Section 39
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    Legal Aid

    Are social workers involved with your children?

    Social services have a legal duty to safeguard children in need and to promote their welfare. Wherever possible the upbringing of vulnerable children should continue within their family group, with social services providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs. However, there are occasions where social services have to take action
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