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Child Abduction

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Talking to a Family Lawyer

We all fear some appointments, whether it is an appointment with a doctor or dentist, or meeting your family lawyer for the first time. In this blog, family law solicitor, Louise Halford, looks at how to get the most out of your first meeting with your family lawyer. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Choosing your family law solicitor Timing your appointment Company at your appointment Preparing for your appointment Talking to your family solicitor Choosing your family law solicitor Before your initial consultation with your family law solicitor, it is best to do some research on whether your family lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you. Just because a friend found a family solicitor wonderful in their divorce, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be right for you, or that they are experts in the area of family law you need advice on. At Evolve Family Law, we believe in being proactive in helping you choose the right family solicitor for you. That’s why we publish information about the lawyers and our fee guide on our website. We will also speak to you to try and make sure there you are seeing the best solicitor for you at your initial consultation. That’s because family lawyers, just like consultants and surgeons, specialise in different areas of family law. If you need urgent advice about child abduction fears and child relocation orders you don’t want to see a solicitor who has a particular interest in international prenuptial agreements when the firm has expert children law and child abduction lawyers. Timing your appointment It is never too early to have an initial consultation. It can be helpful for you to learn about likely children or financial settlement options should you go ahead with a planned separation. That way you can make informed choices. Taking family law legal advice does not commit you to starting children law or financial court proceedings but it does help you work out the best options for you, through having the information you need to make informed decisions. [related_posts] Company at your appointment If you want to bring a friend or a family member to your appointment that should be fine with your family solicitor. Bringing someone with you can be really helpful as they can make sure that you are asking the questions you want answers to. They can also discuss the advice you received with you after the meeting. All family solicitors ask of you is; to choose the person who comes with you with care. That is because you may be discussing personal issues at your appointment. Your solicitor will not want you to feel inhibited and unable to be totally open about the reasons why you need help and legal advice. Also, a family friend or relative needs to be there as a support, rather than to take over the appointment to discuss their own family law problems or their own views on your relationship or family law issue. If they do that, it is frustrating for both you and your family lawyer solicitor as we both need to focus on you. Therefore, if you want company at your appointment, think about who will provide the best support to help you to get the most out of your consultation. Preparing for your appointment Whilst you are welcome to just turn up to your phone, zoom or office appointment, it can help some people to prepare for the appointment. We don’t mean anything ‘too heavy’ by this. Just have a think about why you need advice and the background. For example, your family solicitor may want to know the date of your marriage or date of separation or when your children were born or the approximate date of when an incident occurred . It is surprising how easy it is to forget dates or to only remember the questions you wanted to ask your solicitor after your consultation. Lawyers like questions, so do bring a list of questions with you. Whilst a family lawyer may not be able to fully answer all your questions at a first meeting, they will be able to tell you what information they need to gather to fully answer your queries. Talking to your family solicitor An initial consultation with a family solicitor is a ‘two-way street’; your family lawyer needs to know a bit about you and about your family law query as well as your goals. Armed with that information a family solicitor can help you get the best out of an initial consultation. Consultations work best when you have the confidence to ask your questions. You therefore should not worry about whether your questions are too basic or whether your solicitor will think you should know the answers. Likewise, your lawyer may need to ask you some questions that you don’t think are very relevant to your family solicitor answering your questions. However, there are some questions that will help your lawyer understand the circumstances so your legal advisor can then work out how best to answer your questions as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Mar 17, 2022   ·   5 minute read
Can My Ex Take My Child?

Can My Ex Take My Child?

If parents are honest about their fears surrounding coming out of a bad relationship one of their biggest worries is whether their ex can take their child. Sometimes it is just a fear as your ex has no interest in seeing the child or providing child support. In other family scenarios your ex-husband, wife or partner may want to take the child as they know that is the one thing that will really devastate you or they may genuinely want to look after the child as much as you do but the two of you can't agree on the child care arrangements. In this blog our specialist children solicitor looks at whether your ex can take your child and your options.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. For help with concerns about childcare arrangements after separation or for representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Will the police help if my ex takes my child? If your child is taken your first thought may be to call the police and, in any situation, where you fear that your child is at risk of harm then that is the best thing to do. Risk of harm is always a balancing act so whilst you may think that your child is being harmed by staying with their other parent the police may not think so unless there is some evidence that the child is at risk.   The police won’t remove a child from a parent’s care to police a family court order over child care arrangements if there is no apparent risk of immediate harm as generally the police will say that other than in an emergency situation family and children law matters should be sorted out by the family court. That should not stop you from calling them though in situations where you do have genuine welfare concerns, such as a parent with anger management issues where there were domestic violence issues in the relationship or a parent who appears under the influence of drink or drugs and incapable of safely caring for the child.   There are some family scenarios where it is best to get a family court order so that you can show the order to the police. For example, if you fear that your ex-partner will take your child overseas without your agreement you can make an application to the family court for a prohibited steps order to prevent the child being taken abroad. If you are concerned that you or your child is at risk of domestic violence then you can apply to the court for an injunction order. If you are worried about the safety of contact you can ask the court to make a child arrangements order. A child arrangements order can stop direct contact or say that contact should only take place if supervised or can set limits and conditions to the contact.  Take legal advice if you are worried that your ex may take your child As every family situation is different it is best to take legal advice on your circumstances and best options for your family. For example, you may be worried about your ex-husband or ex-wife planning to move within the UK for work reasons and taking your child with them, thus preventing regular contact visits. Alternatively, you may fear that your ex-partner wants to return overseas to their country of origin or where relatives are already based, taking the children with them so at best you can only get to see the children once a year.   Children law solicitors say that if you are worried about your ex taking your child it is best to take specialist legal advice as quickly as possible because: A children solicitor will be able to tell you where you stand legally and often knowing what your rights are can help manage your worries It may be necessary to apply for an urgent court order, such as an injunction order or action to prevent child abduction to an overseas country with the making of a prohibited steps order A solicitor’s letter to your ex-partner or an application for a child arrangements order may be needed to formalise the child care arrangements and ensure that your ex-partner is aware of the consequences of breaching your agreement or the child arrangements order.   What happens if a parent breaches a court order and takes a child? If a parent breaches a family court order, such as a child arrangements order, prohibited steps order or specific issue order, enforcement action can be taken. It can be tempting to apply straight to court to enforce an order but it is best to take children law legal advice before doing so. For example, if a parent has returned a child home late on one occasion starting enforcement action for a breach of a child arrangements order may not be appropriate. However, if the late return on a Sunday night is affecting schooling and is a regular occurrence despite requests and letters, it may be appropriate to take action.   Children solicitors say that if an order is breached you may need to take speedy action. For example, if a parent keeps a child after a contact visit was due to end you don’t want to leave things so that the other parent can then argue that the status quo of the child living with you has changed and that the child is now happy and settled with them. In cases where child abduction overseas is feared then it is vital that speedy action is taken to avoid the child being taken abroad. That is because if the child is taken to a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention it may be hard to get an order for the child’s immediate return to the UK.   Whatever the nature of the breach of court order, the court can enforce the order and impose penalties on the parent who breached the court order. The penalties will depend on the court’s view about the circumstances of the breach of court order as well as the severity and frequency of the breach. The court can: Impose a community service order and order a parent in breach of a child arrangement order to carry out up to 200 hours of community service Fine the parent in breach of the court order In rare cases a prison sentence can be imposed on the parent in breach of the court order Order a parent to pay the other parent compensation if the breach of the court order led to loss, such as unpaid time off work.   As every breach of a court order has a different impact on a family it is best to take legal advice before applying to enforce an order as it may, for example, be preferable, to apply back to court to vary the existing child arrangements order or other type of children order.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. If you are worried about your ex taking your child or need representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Apr 09, 2021   ·   7 minute read
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How Long Does it Take to Get a Child Arrangement Order?

Cheshire children law solicitors are often asked ‘how long does it take to get a child arrangements order?’ It is an understandable question as any parent is naturally anxious about starting children law court proceedings and wants to have a good idea about the likely timescales for getting a child arrangements order as well as the cost and prospects of success. In this blog children law solicitor Louise Halford looks at how long it takes to get a child arrangements order.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors For advice about children law or making a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law solicitors, based in Holmes Chapel Cheshire and Whitefield North Manchester, on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment.What is a child arrangements order? Not everyone knows what a UK child arrangements order is. That’s because unlike the old child custody orders the name isn’t particularly clear but child custody and child access orders were relabelled as child residence and child contact orders and the latest renaming is the ‘child arrangements order’.   A child arrangements order can combine both custody and contact as the order can say where the child lives (there could be a primary carer or a shared carer arrangement) and with whom the child should have contact with. The contact could be regular overnight contact, mid-week contact, holiday contact or even indirect contact.     Does a court automatically make a child arrangements order if parent’s separate or divorce?       UK children law says that the court should not make a child arrangements order unless the order is necessary because there is a dispute between separated parents that they can't resolve by agreement or family mediation. If parents can't agree on the appropriate and best childcare arrangements for their child after a separation or divorce either parent, whether you are an unmarried or married parent, can apply to the family court for a child arrangements order.   How long does it take to get a child arrangements order? It is difficult to answer the question ‘how long does it take to get a child arrangements order?’ as much depends on the family circumstances. Experienced children law solicitors have been known to secure an urgent child arrangements order in a matter of hours. For example, if a parent is worried that the other parent is under the influence of drink or drugs and it is unsafe to return a young child to them but the parent won't accept that or get help or agree to the child staying with the other parent until they are capable of looking after the child again.   When the court is asked to make an urgent child arrangements order it will normally last for a short period of time until the court can assess what long term child arrangements order is in the child’s long term best interests.   In other child arrangements order applications it can take months to secure a child arrangements order. For example, if one parent says that a child won't see the other parent or that the parent has emotionally or physically abused the child the court may want to carry out detailed investigations and order reports before making a decision on contact and what child arrangements order is best for the child. That sort of extended timescale can be very frustrating for a parent, especially where false allegations have been made against them or they fear parental alienation is taking place. The court proceedings can take a long time to determine as the family judge may want to hold a series of interim court hearings (for example, a finding of fact hearing to determine if the parent’s allegations of abuse are true) or to order an independent assessment by a CAFCASS officer or a report by a child psychologist.   If you can't reach an agreement on the arrangements for your child then it is best to speak to an experienced children law solicitor on the likely timescale to get a child arrangements order as they will listen to why you need a child arrangements order and your concerns, discuss any complexities, and then be able to give you a realistic timescale for the court proceedings and the prospects of the court making interim child arrangements orders until the final hearing of the court application.            Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors   At North Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law we recognise that not being able to agree on child care arrangements and applying for a child arrangements order can be a stressful experience. For pragmatic specialist children law advice from friendly and approachable children law solicitors call Evolve Family Law to discuss how we can help you with your child arrangements order application or to discuss the potential legal costs of going to court for a child custody order. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment so you can speak to an experienced Cheshire children law solicitor. ​Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Feb 04, 2021   ·   5 minute read
What Do Family Lawyers Do?

What Do Family Lawyers Do?

When I am leaving the office after a busy day as a Manchester family lawyer I sometimes ponder where the day went as it doesn’t seem five minutes since I was opening the office up as part of my morning routine. That’s when my thoughts turned to answering a popular internet search question ‘what do family lawyers do?’Manchester and Cheshire Family Lawyers  Robin Charrot is a family lawyer at Evolve Family Law. The firm advises on all aspects of family law from separation and divorce proceedings, reaching financial settlements, resolving child custody and contact as well as private client matters. 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. 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.What is family law? To understand what a family lawyer does you need to know what family law entails. Most people assume that being a Manchester family lawyer is all about drafting divorce proceedings but that certainly isn’t the case as that is only one very small aspect of working life in family law.   Family law is something that you will probably come across in your life. That’s not a negative as many aspects of family law are a positive experience for families, such as: Buying your first house and asking a family lawyer to prepare a cohabitation agreement Getting engaged to marry and signing a prenuptial agreement so both you and your fiancé have peace of mind Having your first child through adoption or surrogacy and asking the family lawyer to secure an adoption order or parental order for your family.   Even something that can be a very negative and a traumatic life experience can end up with a positive outcome with the help of a family solicitor. For example: Separating from a partner and with the help of a family solicitor either agreeing a parenting plan for your child or securing a child arrangements order so that you and your child can enjoy an ongoing relationship with one another Getting the help you need to leave an abusive relationship with a controlling or violent partner through obtaining a non-molestation or occupation injunction order thus enabling you to make a fresh start and put a bad relationship behind you Going through the heartache of your child being taken abroad by the child’s other parent and through use of child abduction and children law proceedings securing the return of your child to the UK Separating from a husband or wife and not knowing where you stand financially and how you will achieve financial independence. Through financial disclosure gaining a better understanding of the family finances and securing a financial court order so that you can move into a new family home Meeting a new partner after a separation or divorce and asking your family lawyer to prepare a cohabitation agreement or a prenuptial agreement so that you can enter your new relationship confident that you have the right paperwork in place to protect you and your family.   These are just some of the things that family lawyers do. Family lawyers do tend to get a bad press on the basis that it is thought that they encourage warring parents and divorcing couples to go to court but that isn’t the case. There are many alternatives to making an application to court, such as: Solicitor negotiations with any financial agreement being converted into a separation agreement or an agreed financial consent order (without the need for anyone to go to court) Family mediation support so that if you are able to reach an agreement in family mediation your Memorandum of Understanding is converted into an agreed financial consent order with no need to physically go to a court hearing to secure the court order Family arbitration – this can be quicker and more flexible than traditional court proceedings.   However, there will also be some family situations where urgent court applications are necessary. For example: If you are in an abusive relationship and you need the protection of an injunction order You are worried that your child is at risk of child abduction or will be taken abroad to live without your agreement You are concerned that your husband or wife is not giving financial disclosure of the family assets or is selling or transferring assets and that if you do nothing you won't receive a fair financial settlement. In that scenario a financial court application needs to be made to protect yours and your children’s best interests.   One thing that is certainly true is that no one day is ever the same in the life of a family lawyer; Monday could involve negotiating and drafting an international prenuptial agreement whilst Tuesday might be spent in court securing an injunction, financial or children law order. As for Wednesday, who knows?    ​Manchester and Cheshire Family Lawyers  To speak to Robin Charrot at Evolve Family Law about any aspect of family law,  from separation and divorce proceedings, reaching a financial settlement or resolving child custody and contact  call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone are also offered.Latest From Our Family Law Blog:
Robin Charrot
Jan 28, 2021   ·   5 minute read
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Who Has Custody of a Child When the Parents Are Not Married?

Child custody and contact is a tricky topic whatever the legal status of the parents of a child. For example, the parents could be unmarried and have never lived together, be a former cohabiting couple, married or divorced or in a civil partnership. In this blog we look at who has custody of a child when the parents aren’t married.Cheshire Children Law Solicitors   For advice about children law,  parental responsibility, child custody or making a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law solicitors, based in Holmes Chapel Cheshire and Whitefield North Manchester, on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment.Who has custody of a child?          UK children law doesn’t give a parent custody of their child automatically by virtue of being a parent, whether you are an unmarried or married parent. However, if custody is in dispute, either parent can apply to court for a child arrangements order.   A child arrangements order is a bit like the old custody and contact orders as a child arrangements order sets out the person the child should live with and the contact arrangements with the other parent or other extended family members.   A child arrangements order can be very flexible and can say that there should be equal or shared parenting or, at the other extreme, the court order can say that one parent should have no contact or only indirect or supervised contact with the child.   When making a child arrangements order the court will make an order that the family law judge thinks is in your child’s best interests. The judge will consider arrange of factors when making his or her decision. These factors are known as ‘the welfare checklist’. The checklist includes looking at your child’s wishes and feelings in light of your child’s age and understanding as well as assessing how capable each parent is of meeting your child’s physical and emotional needs.   When considering the welfare checklist and what specific child arrangements order to make the court won't consider the legal status of the parent’s relationship as a very relevant factor in the decision making process. That is because the test for what child arrangements order to make, and who should get custody, is based on what is in your child’s best interests rather than the status of the parent’s relationship.   In today’s age, family judges are of the view that whether you are a married mother or father or unmarried the issue for the court to determine is what custody and contact order best meets a child’s needs. A mother and father may have been in an unmarried relationship for many years and whilst you may think that in that scenario the mother will have more ‘’rights’’ over their child a judge will make a child arrangements order, setting out the custody and contact, that he or she thinks will meet the needs of the child. For example, if the father is a loving father who has always enjoyed a close relationship with the child a shared care order may be appropriate. On the other hand, if one parent has either been physically or emotionally abusive towards the child then this would be a reason to give custody of the child to the other parent and to stop or limit the contact to the other parent.   When it comes to children law the court looks at things from the perspective of what is best for the child and in the child’s interests. That consideration does not pay a lot of heed to whether you are married or unmarried or in a civil partnership but instead focusses on your child and their characteristics and needs. Accordingly, in the court’s eyes, it is far more important that a parent wants and is able to commit to a long term relationship with their child after a parental separation than the legal status of the parental relationship.   If you are a parent engaged in a custody or contact dispute then children law solicitors will recommend that you don’t focus on the status of your relationship with the other parent and instead focus on your child’s needs and best interests. That way the court is far more likely to be persuaded to make the type of child arrangements order that you are seeking.    How can Evolve Family Law help? At Evolve Family Law we recognise that every family is different and we therefore welcome calls to discuss how we can help your family, whether it is an application for a parental responsibility order or a child arrangements order or to discuss the potential legal costs of going to court for a child custody order. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment so you can speak to an experienced Cheshire children law solicitor. ​Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jan 21, 2021   ·   5 minute read
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How to Choose a Cheshire Child Contact Solicitor

Let’s face it, when it comes to choosing a Cheshire child contact solicitor, it is hard to know where to start. There’s loads of choice and at Evolve Family Law we have never seen an advert from a child contact solicitor that doesn’t profess to be a child contact specialist or expert in the field of children law.   So, how do you choose a Cheshire child contact solicitor? At Evolve Family Law we have put together some tips to help you find the child contact solicitor who is right for you.Cheshire Child Contact Solicitors If you have questions about child contact or need representation in children law proceedings for a child arrangements order then call Holmes Chapel based Evolve Cheshire children solicitors on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online or email louise@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone. ​Tips on Choosing a Cheshire Child Contact Solicitor Here are Evolve Family Law top tips on choosing a Cheshire child contact solicitor:   Take time to see if you can work with the child contact solicitor Every parent and every children law solicitor is different so it is important that you take the time to speak to your proposed solicitor to see if you can work with them. That doesn’t mean that you have to like your solicitor (although that does help) but you do need to respect their advice and judgement even if the advice isn’t always what you want to hear.   A good child contact solicitor will tell you that their job isn’t to tell you what you want to hear from them or to agree with you using the philosophy that ‘’the client is always right’’. The solicitor’s job is to ask hard questions and give you honest and robust advice so you don’t waste your time and money in child contact fights that you aren’t going to win. It is easier to take that advice on board if there is an element of trust with your solicitor and respect for their professionalism and advice.   Will the solicitor listen to you? One of the biggest grounds for complaints about children law solicitors is that they don’t always take the time to listen to you and to your concerns as a parent. A good child contact solicitor will tell you that the ability to listen and pick up on the nuances is just as important as the ability to be an effective advocate at a children court hearing.   Is the child contact solicitor an expert? Solicitors tend to specialise in family law but within that field solicitors will go onto become experts in particular areas such as children law and parental alienation or child abduction or child relocation. If your solicitor is an expert in conveyancing, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney as well as child contact then they not have as much expertise as you first thought. An expert isn’t upset if you ask about their experience in your particular children law area of concern.   What do other people say about the child contact solicitor? A recommendation to a Cheshire child contact solicitor by a friend or family member can be comforting and put you at your ease but you still need to do your homework to make sure that you can work with the child contact solicitor and that they specialise in the particular legal area that you need help with. After all the solicitor may have been brilliant with the negotiations for an international prenuptial agreement but do they have the expertise and experience to handle, for example, a former partner with a narcissistic personality disorder who is hell bent on making your life as miserable as possible?   Solicitors tend to rely on personal recommendations and they are always very grateful to receive them as there is nothing more powerful than the words of a client.   Here is what one children law client wrote about children law solicitor Louise Halford in June 2020: ‘’ The team at Evolve Family Law are the best. Louise Halford got me through a very difficult time with my family law matters finding a suitable arrangement in the children’s best interests. Louise Halford’s professionalism is a credit to her. But more importantly she showed empathy, patience and care delivered through friendly and honest advice. Louise Halford had my back from start to finish. I can't thank you enough…..thank you for being by my side.’’   Another children law client was more succinct in his praise of Louise Halford and said in June 2020: ‘’You are a star from heaven.’’   Is the solicitor upfront about costs, timescales and what to expect? Going to court isn’t an easy option for most parents so it is best to find a Cheshire child contact solicitor who is clear about your alternative options, such as family mediation, and will talk you through what to expect in terms of costs, timescales and the court process. That way you can make an informed decision about whether a child arrangements order application or a prohibited steps order application is the best option for you and your family.   Read more about the ethos of the Cheshire child contact solicitors at Evolve Family Law by clicking here.Cheshire Child Contact Solicitors If you need help with child contact or need representation in children law proceedings for a child arrangements order or other type of children law order then call Holmes Chapel based Evolve Cheshire children solicitors on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online or email louise@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone. Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Robin Charrot
Jun 16, 2020   ·   5 minute read
Young child wearing a respiratory mask as a prevention against the deadly Coronavirus Covid-19

Coronavirus and Child Contact

Update 24th March 2020: In UK government guidance published 24 March, it states: Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others Whilst parents may wish or need to adapt contact arrangements, they can, and should still continue for children. These are frightening times for children and maintaining normality will hopefully help quell their fears. Now, more than ever, parents should put aside their differences and co-operate and act in their children’s best interest at all times. This advice should be read in conjunction with the following Government advice on what to do if someone in your household becomes unwell: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infectionParents want to protect their child and that is particularly true when it comes to the coronavirus. It is hard enough coping with the worries of looking after your children and safeguarding them in normal times but in a pandemic the job of being a parent has just got so much harder. That is the case whether you are living with your partner, separated or divorced.  In this blog we look at the question of coronavirus and child contact after a separation or divorce.Online children law solicitors Evolve Family Law are based in Cheshire and Manchester but offer a full range of online children law services with appointments available by telephone appointment, video conference or Skype. If you need children law advice on custody and contact call us on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online. Stopping Child Contact Because of Coronavirus We are receiving a high number of enquiries asking us whether child arrangements can continue now the government has restricted our movements. We are getting a real sense that the vast majority of these parents aren’t wanting to stop contact to upset their ex-partner or trying to use Covid-19 as an excuse to stop contact visits that they don’t like, but because they genuinely fear for their children and their families. At the moment the advice from the government agency, CAFCASS, is to continue contact arrangements as normal as CAFCASS thinks it is in the best interests of children to maintain contact so the children keep to a familiar routine, even if they are missing out on going to school.   Whilst some may say that statistically children should be OK even if they get the coronavirus that doesn’t ease parent’s anxiety and fears that children going back and forth between households could increase the risk of spreading infection to a member of your family who is in a high risk group with an underlying health condition and is therefore more vulnerable to Covid-19.   There is also a concern being expressed by parents about what might happen if a child is on a contact visit and the other parent falls ill and the family has to self-isolate or if the country goes into lock down and children can't travel back to you.   One of the issues facing separated or divorced parents is that not everyone is as worried about Covid-19 as some are. That can create feelings of tension and acrimony between parents who are living together with their children, let alone separated or divorced parents where there may already be an element of mistrust or a history of communication problems.   Cheshire children law solicitors say that if you want to stop contact because of the coronavirus and high risk issues then whether you can legally do so will depend on whether there is an existing child arrangements order in place and what it says. If you have an existing child arrangements order and you don’t know if you can stop contact or not then it is best to take legal advice. Online Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law are based in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester offer a full range of online children law services and advice from friendly expert children law solicitors. Appointments are available by telephone appointment, video conference or Skype. If you need children law advice call us on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online.Coronavirus and Child Arrangements Orders If you have a child arrangements order in place that sets out the parenting arrangements for your child then if you stop contact you are likely to be in breach of the court order. Your ex-partner could apply to enforce the child arrangements order and you could apply to vary the child arrangements order.   If you are following government advice to self-isolate because a member of your family is unwell then your ex should not apply to enforce an order and you should not need to apply to vary the child arrangements order because of your self-isolation. However, if it isn’t a self-isolation or lockdown situation, but you want to change or stop contact arrangements because of the coronavirus and any high risk concerns, you may need to look at what your child arrangements order says and your ex –partner may want to apply for a child arrangements order  so contact isn’t stopped.   Cheshire children law solicitors say that the use of children court proceedings should always be the ‘last resort’ and it is best to try to negotiate a change in a child arrangements by agreement.    Sorting out contact during the coronavirus outbreak It is all very well for children law solicitors to talk about trying to reach an agreement about stopping or changing contact arrangements but many parents say that it is far harder to do that in reality. That is certainly true but sometimes it takes a children law solicitor to cut through the parental history of mistrust and get to the real issues.      In these unprecedented times it is inevitable that parents will want to protect their children and to ‘wrap them up in cotton wool’. What parent wouldn't? However it is important for parents to take a step back and think that the coronavirus pandemic won't be with us for ever and that when the UK comes out of the current crisis you still want to be on speaking terms with your ex-partner or at least be able to communicate with them over the parenting arrangements.   Therefore, if you are contemplating stopping or changing contact Cheshire children law solicitors recommend that you: Think about the reasons why you want to stop or change contact. Can contact still take place through reducing risks , for example , by you driving the children to contact rather than older children or the other parent using public transport to get to your ex-partner’s house or can you change the contact drop off point Consider if you can agree consistent rules on what the children can do during their time with the other parent. That way one parent isn’t doing all the home schooling and enforcing a curfew and activity restrictions for older children whilst the other parent carries on as normal Think about the alternatives to direct contact, such as facetime or Skype or phone. Bed time stories by facetime maybe something small children would love and the offer of such contact might reassure your ex that you aren’t trying to cut them out, but you want they want; happy and healthy children Take legal advice as sometimes an experienced children law solicitor can help you find resolutions that you had not thought about or help you with the words to help your ex understand why you are so particularly worried about coronavirus and child contact. It can undoubtedly be hard for an ex-partner to hear that you want to stop or reduce contact when they and the children haven’t done ‘anything wrong’ and seeing the children is helping them get through the coronavirus outbreak. However, this is a time when a children law solicitor can help you both focus on what is best for the children, whether that is getting you help with your fears, or helping your ex-partner to understand any particular high risk issues.    Online Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law provide a full range of online children law services with appointments available with specialist children law solicitors by telephone appointment, video conference or Skype. If you need children law advice call us on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online  Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Mar 23, 2020   ·   7 minute read
Can I Stop My Ex Taking Our Child on Holiday?

Can I Stop My Ex Taking Our Child on Holiday?

As a Cheshire children solicitor I get asked the question ‘can I stop my ex taking our child on holiday?’ That is understandable as most parents are anxious when their child goes off for the weekend, let alone a holiday with your ex. In this blog we answer your frequently asked questions about whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday. Cheshire children law solicitors If you have a question about children law and holiday contact or need advice on custody and contact then the expert friendly team of children solicitors at Holmes Chapel and Whitefield based Evolve Family Law solicitors can help you. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online or email me at louise@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk   Can I stop my ex taking our child on holiday? Whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday will depend on: Whether there is a child custody order(also known as a residence order or a child arrangements order). If so, does the order say whether your ex can take your child on holiday? If it does, then have circumstances changed so you can apply to court to vary or change the order to stop your ex taking your child on holiday?    Is the holiday in the UK or does your ex plan to take your child abroad? If a foreign holiday is proposed how long is the holiday for and what is the destination? Are there any child abduction concerns that are making you particularly concerned about the holiday? For example, is your concern that your child is being taken to see extended family outside Europe and you have read and googled that the country they are going to isn’t signed up to the Hague Convention?   Prior to talking to a Cheshire children solicitor about whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday it is best to think about the reasons why you object to the holiday. For some parents the answer is obvious, such as you fear child abduction whereas for others it is just a gut fear or your objection to the holiday may be down to: The dates your ex wants to take your child on holiday – for example, do the dates clash with your Christmas, Easter or your summer holiday plans? Who will be accompanying your child on holiday – for example, is your ex going on holiday with his new partner and their children. Are you worried about your child spending time with the new partner or them not getting on with the other children who will be going? The destination of the holiday, as after all a holiday to an English Caravan Park or to European Beach holiday is very different to a trip to the Far East or middle East to meet extended family or for cultural reasons Do you have concerns about your ex’s drinking habits and do you worry that if you are not there, your child will be neglected whilst your ex gets drunk Are you angry that your ex can afford to take your child on an expensive holiday but can't or won't pay child support to you so you can't afford to go on a similar trip?   There are many other reasons why you may object to your ex taking your child on holiday but sometimes it helps to make a list as there may be more than one reason why you feel so strongly about the holiday.  Some of those reasons may be practical ones and others may be emotional, for example, your ex is taking his new partner and your child on holiday to the same resort you all used to go to as a family.   I have a court order so can I stop my ex taking my child on holiday?  If a mother or a father has a court order saying that the child lives with them(for example a child arrangements order) then you can: Stop your child going on holiday unless there is a child arrangements order in place for the other parent that covers holiday contact in the UK or overseas If the holiday contact in the child arrangements order doesn’t cover travel abroad then your ex won't be able to take your child overseas on holiday unless they get your written agreement or a family court order that says they have court permission to take your child either to a specified foreign country for a holiday or a general order that says they can take the child on a foreign holiday each year.   Every children court order is phrased differently so if you are at all unsure about what your court order says and whether your ex needs your permission or a court order to take your child on holiday then speak to a Cheshire children solicitor.   Can I get a court order to stop my ex taking my child on holiday?  You can apply to court to get an order to stop your ex from taking your child on holiday. It is best to speak to a Cheshire children solicitor about whether you need to apply for an order as it will all depend on whether there are any existing court orders. If there are then it may not be necessary to make an application to court or you may need to apply to vary a court order rather than apply for a new court order.    For example, if your ex wants to take your child on holiday abroad and they don’t have a child arrangements order to say that they are the main carer the onus is on them to apply to court to get permission to take your child on a foreign holiday out of the UK unless you give your written consent to the holiday.   If you think that your ex will just take your child without bothering to apply for a court order then you can make an application to court for a specific issue or prohibited steps order  prohibiting the holiday from taking place.   If your ex is your child’s main carer and they have a child arrangements order in place which says the child lives with them, then normally this order allows them to take your child on holiday abroad for up to four weeks.  They therefore don’t need your permission to take your child abroad provided the holiday is for less than four weeks. However, if you object to the holiday (for example, because you fear child abduction) then you can apply to court for an order to prohibit the foreign holiday from taking place.   If your objection is to your ex taking your child on holiday in the UK then you can still apply for an order to try and stop the holiday although you would have to have good reason for the objection as generally speaking there is less opposition to a child being taken away on holiday in the UK unless, for example: The child is young and hasn’t had a lot of contact with the other parent and so would be anxious and fret The holiday is unsuitable, for example , a golf holiday where you anticipate your child will be cared for by your ex’s new partner rather than spend quality time with a parent Your ex wants to go away on holiday at the only time that you can take off to go away on holiday or their holiday plans will mean that you don’t get to spend time with your child over Christmas or will stop your child from going to a family wedding or other celebration Your ex is planning a camping holiday in the Autumn half term and your child is asthmatic or has special health needs.   Should I object to my child going on holiday? If a parent wants to object to their child going on holiday most people’s first thoughts are that a child should be able to enjoy a holiday with each of his or her separated parents. Whilst that is true it is also correct that if you have any concerns about your child then it is your job as a parent to protect your child and stand up for what is in their best interests.   Sometimes children don’t know what is best for them as whilst your child may be very excited about a trip to a far flung destination they won't understand your child abduction fears and the reasons behind why you are so worried about the holiday.   A Cheshire children solicitor will normally ask you to look at the reasons why you object to your child going on a holiday in the UK or overseas and to consider whether those reasons are about you or your child. For example, if your real issue is that your ex can afford a holiday but isn’t paying child support your children solicitor can make a child support application for you. If your issue is the destination of the holiday or its length then perhaps some compromise can be made so a holiday can take place but your child is safe. Cheshire children law solicitors If you need help and advice with holiday contact or need a holiday contact order then the expert team of specialist children law solicitors at Holmes Chapel and Whitefield based Evolve Family Law solicitors can help you. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or contact us online or email me at louise@evolvefamilylaw.co.uk   Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Mar 02, 2020   ·   9 minute read
A Children’s Solicitor’s’ Thoughts On The Fight Against Child Abduction

A Children’s Solicitor’s’ Thoughts On The Fight Against Child Abduction

A case in the papers last week brought home to me how child abduction can devastate a family through the loss of a child. After years of battling with people who were once loved ones and trying to fight your way through a legal system to get family court orders to help you recover your child the process can be exhausting. As an experienced Manchester children law solicitor, over the years I have helped many parents in their child abduction fight to recover custody of their child. I have seen, at second hand, just what a toll child abduction can take, not only on the parent but on the extended family, such as half siblings or grandparents. What was it about the child abduction case in the media that caught my eye? It is difficult to say, maybe it was her 6 year fight for the return of her daughter or it could simply be the time of the year with shops putting up Christmas decorations and thoughts therefore turning to families and home. The Case The mother in question had left her 3 month old daughter in a cafe with the child’s father whilst she went shopping. He said that he would have a coffee but instead he abducted the child to Libya to stay with his mother. 2 years later, on the father’s return to the UK, he was sentenced and served a 4 year prison term for child abduction. Now out on license and living in the UK he says that he can’t secure the return of the little girl, who will soon be 7, as it is beyond his control. The child’s mother is making court applications in the UK for an order that the father return the child to the UK or face further prison time as well court proceedings in Libya in the hope that one of the court jurisdictions will be able to secure her daughter’s return. As a children solicitor, it is my experience of representing parents in child abduction cases that makes me listen intently when I meet a parent who wants advice about their husband, wife, former partner or extended family member wanting to take a child abroad on holiday. Some parents have half formed tentative worries about child abduction that are all too easy to only half hear and ignore the signals and others have massive concerns but without any of the trigger worries. Is there a way that you can assess whether a child is at serious risk of child abduction? Sadly, in most child abduction solicitors experience there isn't although there is always a heightened concern in cases where a parent or his extended family having links to another country, the ease with which the parent could simply disappear or if there are no real ties to the UK, such as property or a well-paid career. It simply isn't possible to put children in cages to protect them from child abduction or the other ills that they inevitably face as they grow older. I do however appreciate why so very many parents worry about their child and the risk of abduction by the other parent. It is equally understandable that some separated parents, perhaps with dual citizenship or family abroad, feel that they live under constant suspicion of child abduction and that influences their relationship with the child’s other parent. Sometimes that fear can even affect the parent - child relationship if there is a really hostile environment of fear between the parents and the child picks up on that. So if wrapping a child up in cotton wool is not a practical solution what other options are there to avoid the risk of child abduction? Any specialist Manchester children solicitor will tell you that there is no one solution but that if you have any fears about child abduction you should seek legal advice on child abduction and family court orders to protect the child , such as specific issue and prohibited steps orders , as quickly as you can to try and avoid the situation arising. If it does and the child has been taken to a Hague Convention country it certainly will be easier to locate and recover the child than to a country, such as Libya, that isn't a signatory to the Hague Convention. Contact Us Now For a Free Consultation
Louise Halford
Nov 23, 2018   ·   4 minute read