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Child Arrangement Orders – Your Questions Answered

Child arrangement orders have been around a long time but we still get lots of questions from worried parents who are in the midst of a separation or divorce about their child custody rights or asking questions about residence and contact or access orders. In this article, children law expert Louise Halford answers your frequently asked questions on child arrangement orders. For expert Divorce and Children Law advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. What is a child arrangement order? A child arrangement order is a Court order that sets out parenting arrangements for children when there is a dispute between parents. The order is a combined order as it will set out where the children will live ( this used to be referred to as a custody order or residence order) and the contact arrangements (this used to be referred to as an access order or contact order). Do I need a child arrangement order? You only need a child arrangement order if you can't agree on the parenting arrangements for your children. If you can't reach an agreement direct then your children law solicitor can help you sort things out by negotiation or by providing legal support during family mediation. The Court will not routinely make a child arrangement order just to record what you have agreed unless there is a history of dispute or a real reason for the order. Will a child arrangement order let me take my children abroad? If you are named as the residential parent in a child arrangement order you can take your children abroad on holiday for up to four weeks without needing the other parent’s agreement. However, even with a child arrangement order, you can't move overseas with your children without the other parent’s agreement or Court order. If the other parent won't agree to your plans to relocate overseas with the children, then you need to apply for a relocation order. Can you change a child arrangement order? A child arrangement order can be changed either by both parents recording that they agree the parenting change or by applying back to Court to vary the child arrangement order. For example, if you agree that the children should be returned home at 6pm rather than at the old time of 5pm, the agreement to the change could be recorded in a text or email without needing to go to the expense of a Court application. However, if your child wants to move to live with you and the other parent won't agree then you will need to apply to Court to vary the child arrangement order. You should not change the child arrangement order without taking advice as you do not want to be accused of breaching the Court order. Does a child arrangement order include child support payments? A child arrangement order does not say if child support should be paid by one parent to the other parent. If you can't agree on what child support should be paid the Court has limited powers to make a child support order but the Child Maintenance Service can be asked to carry out an assessment of child support liability and can arrange payment. [related_posts] Shared care and child arrangement orders A child arrangement order can specify the parent the children will live with and set out the contact arrangements with the other parent. Alternatively, a child arrangement order can say that parenting is shared and specify how the shared parenting works. It does not necessarily have to be a fifty per cent split of each week. Ideally a child arrangement order will also set out how holiday contact will be arranged. For example, that parents will have alternate year Christmas day contact or that school holiday contact will be divided equally on dates to be agreed between the parents. With a child arrangement order can you make all important decisions? If you have a child arrangement order it does not allow you to make all the important decisions for your child, such as choice of school or faith. The other parent is likely to have parental responsibility for your child so you both have equal rights and responsibilities over major decision making. That means if you can't reach an agreement over an aspect of parenting then either you or the other parent will need to the Court for a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order. The Court will make a decision based on what the judge believes to be in the child’s best interests. Who can apply for a child arrangement order? It isn’t just parents who can apply to court for a child arrangement order. There are others who have an automatic right to apply for a child arrangement order such as step parents, a relative if the child have been living with the relative for twelve months or anyone who has looked after the child for three years or more. In addition to those with an automatic right to apply for a child arrangement order, others can apply for permission to apply for a child arrangement order. This typically covers the situation where a grandparent wants an order to have contact with a grandchild. If you need help with a child arrangement order application our specialist children law solicitors are here to help you. For expert Divorce and Children Law advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 28, 2022   ·   5 minute read
Help for Cohabiting Families

Help for Cohabiting Families

At Evolve Family Law the family and private client solicitors have often commented on the very different ways that married and cohabiting couples are treated when it comes to UK family law and the laws on Wills and estate planning. The wholly different treatment can create many injustices. The saddest aspect is that when deciding whether to cohabit or get married most couples don’t realise the significance of their choice because they are not family solicitors or private client lawyers. Instead, they make their decision on whether to get married purely on personal preferences without a full appreciation of the legal implications. Recently one of the perceived injustices has been righted as the Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to extend bereavement support to cohabiting couples with children. We are Manchester, Cheshire and Online Family and Private Client Solicitors. For legal help and advice on family law and Wills for cohabiting couples call Evolve Family Law or complete our online enquiry form. Bereavement support for cohabiting families You would think that if you were bereaved with dependent children, you would need financial support, whatever the legal status of your relationship. The law previously said financial help was only available to claim if you were a bereaved parent with dependent children and you were either married or in a civil partnership. You could have been married a month and be able to make a claim but a five or fifteen-year committed cohabiting relationship was not recognised when it came to bereavement help. The government  has now announced that the Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payments will be claimable by the cohabiting partner of a deceased who had children living with their partner at the time of the partner’s death. The announcement may appear to be very limited in scope but it is estimated that more than 22,000 families will be able to claim this bereavement financial support. To be eligible to make a claim a person in a cohabiting relationship with dependent children will just need to have been living with their partner at the time of their partner’s death. The announcement isn’t law yet. The law will need to be changed by Act of Parliament. However, the government has said that if the law is changed it plans to allow bereaved cohabitees to make backdated claims to the 30 August 2018. Cohabiting couple advice If you are in a cohabiting relationship, it remains vital that you understand the basics of how your relationship will be treated in law if your relationship breaks down either because one of you decides to leave or if your partner passes away. If you are cohabiting with a partner and you split up your rights and financial claims are limited and based on property law. To protect yourself and your children you need to understand your rights and preferably get a cohabitation agreement drawn up to safeguard yourself and your children. If you are cohabiting it is also vitally important that you each make a Will and power of attorney. That is because, under the law, a cohabitee is not treated as their partner’s next of kin. That means that if your cohabitee dies without leaving a Will you won't receive anything under intestacy rules and instead you will have to make a claim against the estate. Likewise, if your partner loses capacity because of an accident or ill health you won't be able to make decisions on their behalf as under the law you aren’t their next of kin. A health and welfare power of attorney and a financial  power of attorney gives you the right to step in and help if your loved one is incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions on what is in their best interests. [related_posts] How can Evolve Family Law help you? At Evolve Family Law our family law solicitors and private client lawyers can help you with: Cohabitation agreements. Resolving property and cohabitation claims if a relationship breaks down. Mediation support if you are going through family mediation because your cohabiting relationship has broken down. Wills for cohabiting couples including the appointment of testamentary guardians for dependent children. Advice on estate planning for cohabiting couples including inheritance tax and the importance of pension and insurance nominations. Powers of attorney. The creation of life time trusts to protect loved ones Cohabitees and claims against an estate.
Catherine Hazeldine
Feb 17, 2022   ·   4 minute read
Serious sad woman thinking over a problem

Can You Be Legally Separated and Live in the Same House?

For those who have decided to separate or divorce, either because of COVID-19 related pressures or the global pandemic has reinforced the decision to go your separate ways, the next step is for one of you to move out of the family home. You should not permanently leave the family home without first taking legal advice. However, as Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries where neither the husband nor wife can easily move out of the family home. Enquirers want to know if they can be legally separated and live in the same house as their estranged spouse. ​Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors   Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from your separation to divorce proceedings, agreeing child custody and contact arrangements and financial settlements to representation in financial and children law proceedings. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call. ​What is a legal separation? A legal separation is where a husband and wife obtain a decree of judicial separation from the family court. If you haven’t heard of judicial separation it isn’t surprising as applications for judicial separation are rare because: If you obtain a judicial separation you will still need to get divorced at a later stage, for example, if you want to remarry or if you want a clean break financial court order preventing any further financial claims between husband and wife. You don’t need a legal separation for official purposes. You can just tell agencies, such as the Inland Revenue or the Local Authority, that you are separated. Do I need a legal separation? People often assume that they need a legal separation or judicial separation decree, but they don’t unless they have a religious or cultural objection to a divorce and want to formalise their separation. If you plan to get divorced later, you don’t need a judicial separation first as you can sort out your financial affairs by signing a separation agreement. Can you separate and live in the same house? You can separate or even divorce and still live in the same house. Some couples think that if they continue to live together, they can't get divorced but that isn’t correct. Under current English divorce law, you can get divorced if you have lived ‘separate and apart’ for two years provided your husband or wife consents to the divorce. It is best to take some legal advice about the grounds for divorce proceedings as you may not need to wait two years before being able to start divorce proceedings. Living separate and apart in the same household, for the purposes of divorce proceedings, means that there must be a degree of separation between husband and wife. For example, you can't cook for one another or do the other person’s laundry or ironing or shopping. Separating and your spouse won't leave the family home. If you have taken the decision to separate and your husband or wife won't leave the family home then if things become impossible in the one house there are options, such as: An application for an injunction order – an occupation order can give you the right to occupy the family home to the exclusion of your partner until long term ownership or sale of the property is determined by agreement between you or by the court in divorce and financial settlement proceedings. An application for spousal maintenance so that you can afford to leave the family home and rent somewhere until long term ownership or sale of the family home is decided. It is best to take specialist legal advice from a divorce solicitor before leaving the family home and moving into rented accommodation. Separating and can't sell the family home. Most people would agree that it is a tricky housing market so whilst you may have decided to separate or divorce you may not be able to sell the family home. You can be separated or divorced and still be living at the family home though for some it won't be a very comfortable experience. Even in the best situations where you are splitting up amicably it can still feel as if you are in limbo with your life suspended until you can achieve the sale of the family home. One thing that can reduce the stress of waiting for the sale of the family home is to have a financial agreement in place so you know who will get what when the property does sell. Although you may have concerns about having to drop the sale price on the family home, a fair financial settlement can still be reached if you don’t agree to accept a fixed amount from the sale proceeds but instead you each agree to receive a percentage of the net proceeds of sale. That way you are both protected, whether house values move up or down. In divorce proceedings a financial settlement can be reached by agreement or after financial settlement proceedings but in either scenario you should obtain a financial court order that records how all your assets will be divided, including the equity in the family home, savings, and pension provision. If you are separated but don’t want to start divorce proceedings yet it is still best to record the financial settlement that you have agreed to avoid one of you changing your mind about how much you should get from the sale proceeds when you have found a buyer for the house. A document, called a separation agreement, should be prepared to formalise the agreement reached.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors The team of specialist divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law can help you with your separation and divorce proceedings, as well as child custody and contact and your financial settlement. For advice on your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.   The Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 22, 2021   ·   6 minute read
woman helping senior with paperwork

What is a Grant of Probate?

When you have suffered a bereavement, it can be hard to navigate what you need to do to sort out a loved one’s estate and their financial affairs. In this article we look at what a grant of probate is and whether you will need to obtain one.Manchester and Cheshire Will and probate solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about probate or making a new Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and meetings are available by telephone appointment or video call.What is probate? Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person so that assets are gathered in, any debts paid and the estate distributed. If the deceased left a valid Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will. If the deceased didn’t make a Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with intestacy rules. If there is an intestacy, the legal process of administering the estate is called ‘letters of administration’. Who deals with probate? The task of an executor named in a Will is to deal with probate. Most executors don’t deal with the probate personally but instead ask a probate solicitor to deal with the legal work for them. As an executor they retain overall control of the administration of the estate and give instructions to the solicitor. If the deceased died without making a Will, they died ‘intestate’ and the intestacy rules say who can apply to administer the estate and who will receive the estate. An administrator can ask a probate solicitor to administer the estate on their behalf. What is a grant of probate? A grant of probate is the legal document that gives the executor of a Will the legal authority to act. Without a grant of probate most third parties won't act on the instructions of an executor as they need evidence that the deceased has died and that the person contacting them is the authorised executor or administrator of the estate. How do you apply for a grant of probate? In most situations the grant of probate follows a set path, namely: The executor, or the probate solicitor instructed by them, gets information about the estate, including the assets and any debts The grant of representation is applied for An inheritance tax form is completed and, if necessary, any IHT can be paid The grant of probate is received The assets of the estate are gathered in (for example, shares or property may be sold depending on the terms of the Will) Any debts payable by the estate are discharged (for example, outstanding care home fees or utility bills on a property) The estate is then distributed in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules. Estate accounts are prepared to show the monies and assets received, debts and taxes paid and how the estate was distributed. Some grants of probate are straightforward but others can be complicated. For example: If the named executors in the Will do not get on If the beneficiaries of the Will are potentially going to challenge the speed or work of the executors in securing the grant of probate and distributing the estate If the validity of the Will is challenged If there is a dispute over the Will and questions over whether it made fair financial provision for a dependant of the deceased If there are likely to be complicated inheritance tax, CGT, trust or sale issues because of the size of the estate or the nature of the assets. For example, if the deceased died within a short time of making lifetime gifts or where the estate consists of a large buy to let property portfolio or some assets are overseas, such as a holiday home The family want to change the Will provisions through a deed of variation. Who pays for probate? Some people think that if they are named as an executor in a Will that they have to undertake the obtaining of the grant of probate personally. That isn’t normally the case as Wills enable an executor to instruct a probate solicitor. The costs of the grant of probate and the probate solicitor come out of the estate before it is distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate solicitors’ cost will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. Fixed fee or hourly cost quotes should be made available. At Evolve Family Law we believe it is very important that fees are transparent and publish a price guide on our website. The guide says for work up to and including grant of probate, for a non-taxable estate, our probate solicitor fees are £1060 inclusive of vat. For a bespoke quote please call us and we can look at the work you would like us to do. Is a grant of probate necessary? In some family situations, an executor or a loved one or beneficiary will question if a grant of probate is necessary. Probate solicitors say this question is totally understandable as no one wants to go through unnecessary processes. In situations where the estate is very small a grant of probate may not be needed. Whether you need a grant of probate or not doesn’t depend on whether there is a Will or not or whether a husband or wife is inheriting the entire estate, but rather depends on the size and nature of the assets in the estate. If there is a property to sell, a grant of probate will always be required. If you aren’t sure whether a grant of probate will be needed or not our Manchester and Cheshire probate solicitors are always happy to advise you on if a grant of probate is needed and, if so, the likely probate solicitors’ fees for securing probate for the estate.Manchester and Cheshire probate and Will solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about a grant of probate or your responsibilities as an executor or whether you can challenge a Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 15, 2021   ·   6 minute read