Children

Committed and passionate about solving your Family legal problems

If you are considering divorce/dissolution or separation and you have children, you will want to ensure the minimum disruption to their lives. Sometimes parents are able to agree the living arrangements and child maintenance payments for their children in an amicable way or with the help of mediation. However, very often there will be some issues that can’t be easily resolved and these may necessitate going to court.

It is estimated that between 80,000 and 150,000 children are affected by divorce or dissolution of civil partnerships each year in the UK. While the figures for children affected by cohabitation breakdown are not known, they are estimated to be double that figure. Even though parents may think their children are not affected by the split, it is more than likely they are being affected in some way. The court’s primary consideration will always be the welfare of the children and any orders that are made will reflect this.

Whatever your situation, we are here to provide you with the legal advice and support you need, to find the right solutions to protect your child’s long-term interests.

We can help. Call us on 01935 823883

Welfare and Support of your Children

What should you do first?

The first step after you and your spouse/partner have decided to end your relationship is to try and come to an amicable agreement about the care and welfare of your children, together with the financial support that is to be provided. There are 2 main government bodies who can also help you plan a way forward:

  • Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) provides a parenting plan which gives superb advice on the types of things you need to discuss and agree upon together.
  • The Child Maintenance Service provides help on reaching a family-based arrangement for child maintenance payments and has a calculator for ascertaining what those payments should be. They can also arrange for payment collection and enforcement of payments.
  • If you can come to an agreement together, there will be no need to speak to a mediator, solicitor, or apply for any court orders, which will ultimately be the least stressful and most cost effective solution. However, one thing to keep in mind, is that this agreement will not be “enforceable”, which means if at some point in the future you disagree on the arrangements, you cannot ask the courts to make them happen, you would have to apply for a court order. It is always sensible as well, to get some initial legal advice, so you understand your rights and those of your children as this will be of great benefit, when deciding on child arrangements.

    What if you can't reach an agreement?

    At this point it would definitely be wise to seek some legal advice, particularly as legislation - The Children Act 1989 - is often being updated. We can help you understand the child arrangements legal process, discuss the different Orders you may like to seek and the various factors, known as the Welfare Checklist, a court will take into consideration, when deciding on your case. We can also advise you on the level of child maintenance payments you should receive or pay.

    Mediation will also need to take place at this point (unless there has been domestic abuse) and it is hoped many of the issues can be ironed out during this process. It is vital you are able to prove you’ve considered and tried mediation before going to court or it could have negative effects on your case. Your Mediator will fill out a section of a C100 form to show you’ve considered it.

    What types of Court Order are there?

    If you are unable to agree on one area or all of them, you may apply to the court for an Order which states how you will go forward. The are several types of Order that are available and they come under these main headings:

    • Child Arrangement Orders – previously know as Residence and Contact orders, these orders look at who your child will live with, plus how much and what type of contact will take place by both parents.
    • Specific Issue Orders – these look at specific questions to do with Parental Responsibility which generally relate to how your child will be brought up, such as which school they will go to, or whether they should change their name.
    • Prohibited Steps Orders – these orders are put in place to prevent the other parent from making a decision about a specific issue to do with your child’s upbringing, such as when they would like to take the child abroad
    • Financial Relief Orders with respect to your child – this will ascertain who is to pay maintenance for your child, how much and how often it is to be paid.
    • Emergency Applications in some instances, particularly when there is suspected abuse or harrassment, the court can make an Order without giving notice to the offending party.

    What are your next steps?

    At Routh Clarke we understand how stressful it can be for everyone when a relationship breaks down. We are here to guide you through the maze of the legal process to ensure you and your children arrive at the other end safely. We also keep legal costs to as low a level as possible. Nick Routh has a vast knowledge of family law and has seen most situations. He will always be the person at the end of the phone to advise you on the best course of action. Call him now to see how he can help you.