Child Custody & Contact

Alienating Behaviour & its Impact on Child Contact After Separation or Divorce

Alienating Behaviour & its Impact on Child Contact After Separation or Divorce

Parental alienation is a concept that has gained familiarity through divorce solicitors and child experts writing about the effect of parental alienation on the children of separated parents and on the parent who has been alienated. A recent family court case has suggested the use of the words ‘alienating behaviour‘ rather than labelling one parent as guilty of parental alienation. In this blog, our children law expert Louise Halford looks at the case and looks at how to approach child arrangement order applications involving allegations of alienating behaviour. As a specialist firm of Northwest family law solicitors, our lawyers can advise you on sorting out residence and contact arrangements after a separation or divorce and represent you in a child arrangement order application. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. What is alienating behaviour? Alienating behaviour or parental alienation is where one parent turns a child against the other parent without good reason. You may think that there is never a good reason to cause a child to reject a parent but some level of anxiety about a parent-child relationship may be justified where there are, for example, very real fears of domestic violence or a concern that a child will get sucked into the other parent’s lifestyle choices, such as the parent’s drug or alcohol addiction. In other families, a parent may not have created the child’s feelings of aversion towards the other parent. The child’s feelings may be down to the child’s misconception that one parent was entirely to blame for the marriage breakdown and for the sale of a much-loved family home resulting in the child needing to change schools. In classic cases of parental alienation, there is no objective justification for the alienating behaviour. One parent, through no fault of their own, is squeezed out of their child’s life. Some parents decide to fight back and apply for a child arrangement order so they can continue a relationship with their child. That’s what happened in the case of Re C ("parental alienation" instruction of expert) [2023] EWHC 345 (Fam). The judge,  Sir Andrew McFarlane, said "The identification of ‘alienating behaviour’ should be the court’s focus, rather than any quest to determine whether the label parental alienation can be applied." That approach makes perfect sense as the behaviour needs to be the focus of the court investigation rather than the label. [related_posts] The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (the independent body tasked with providing reports to the court in children law proceedings for child arrangement orders, specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders) have issued guidance on the sort of behaviour a child might display if they have been alienated against one parent by the other. Whilst the guidance is helpful, it’s best to not be too focused on blaming the other parent for your child’s response to requests for contact but to examine any other reasons for your child’s reluctance to see you. For example, older children can be heavily influenced by their friends or by their social commitments and they may hate the thought of spending time with either of their ‘uncool’ parents. Alternatively, a child may be anxious about a new school or about school exams but instead, refocus their anxiety on parental contact rather than address the real reasons for how they are feeling. The impact of alienating behaviour Alienating behaviour can have a devastating impact on a child’s relationship with either their mother or father. Once a child has been alienated and turned against a parent it can be extremely hard to change a child’s mindset that one parent is bad and that the other one is good and can do no wrong. A child’s simplistic view of their parents can lead to long-term emotional and psychological damage to the child. Initially, the child may seem happier that they have cut one parent out of their life, thus reducing the other parent’s antipathy to the weekly contact handover. However, in the longer term, the child may experience feelings of guilt or even reject the parent who encouraged them to stop or limit contact with their other parent. As family lawyers, we understand that many parents don’t foresee the consequences of being openly hostile or critical of the other parent. To some parents saying what they think about their ex-partner in the presence of their child is a way of letting off steam after a difficult separation and a way of verbalising their own feelings of hurt and rejection. It can be an immense comfort to one parent when a child takes their side and is supportive. However,  the parent’s feelings of anger can be projected onto the child who in turn then rejects their other parent, thinking that their views are all their own idea but, in reality, they stem from one parent’s alienating behaviour. Any child arrangement order application involving allegations of alienating behaviour needs to be addressed with a measure of sensitivity and caution. Whilst a parent denied contact with their child wants action, and most importantly wants contact with their son or daughter, it’s best to acknowledge how essential it is to move forward at the child’s pace to repair any damage created through one parent’s alienating behaviour. Our children law solicitors can advise you on sorting out residence and contact arrangements after a difficult separation or divorce and represent you in a child arrangement order application. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Sep 13, 2023   ·   5 minute read
Young arab girl with hijab doing exercise with her bestfriend at international school. Asian muslim school girl sitting near her classmate during lesson. Multiethnic elementary students in classroom.

Parental Disputes on Schools and School Fees

After a child’s health and happiness, there is nothing more important to parents than their child’s education. Getting your child into the school of your choice can be more challenging when you are separated or divorced from the child’s other parent. For expert advice on children and family law call our team of specialist family lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Parental disputes and schooling issues Children lawyer, Louise Halford, has helped many parents resolve where their child should be schooled, and sometimes just as importantly, who should pay the school fees. The sorts of parental disputes over education and schooling include disagreements on: Whether a child should be state or privately educated and if educated privately who should pay the fees Whether a child should be home educated by one parent Whether a child should attend a school with a religious affiliation The specific school, with issues over school catchment area and parent’s homes and the feasibility of mid-week contact visits if the school choice is some distance away combined with debates over the Ofsted rankings of potential schools Whether a child should board or be a day pupil Whether a child should have a SEND assessment and be mainstream educated or attend a specialist school to address health concerns such as a child being on the autistic spectrum or dyslexic whether a child should move to a new school, for example if a parent’s new partner’s children attend a different local state school or are being privately educated Who decides on the choice of school? Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for their child if they share parental responsibility for their offspring. Parental Responsibility means parents have an equal say in the choice of school. If parents can’t reach an agreement after discussion or mediation then ultimately the court can decide and make a specific issue order identifying the school that the child should attend. The court decision is based on what the judge thinks is in the child’s best interests taking into account a range of statutory factors. That is why it is important that the judge knows your child’s personality and likes and dislikes as if your child is sporty and not academic that might influence the judge in deciding that a school with a focus on exam results might not be the best environment for them. When presenting an argument for a particular school pastoral care can be as important as a focus on sports or academic achievement. [related_posts] Who pays the school fees? Most parents’ fear on separation is that their child may not be able to go to the planned private school or may have to come out of private education and move into the state system. The Child Maintenance Service can’t order a parent to pay school fees as part of general child support but the court can make a school fees order to make one parent either pay or contribute towards private school fees and ‘extras’, such as uniforms, music lessons, or the annual school ski trip. The court looks at a range of factors when deciding whether or not to make a school fees order, including the affordability of private education. What next? The new school year, the graduation from nursery to primary school or from primary to secondary school may seem a long time away but all of a sudden choice of schooling will become a pressing issue. That is why separated or divorced parents need to start to talk early and do their research on suitable school options to hopefully reach an agreement on what type or specific school is in your child’s best interests. If an agreement can’t be reached then, after mediation, either parent could start court proceedings. The court will try to decide on children law applications as quickly as it can but inevitably court timetables aren’t as quick as parents ideally want. That means that it pays to think and talk early so the judge has time to make a decision on the choice of school or payment of school fees well in advance of the new school year. For expert advice on children and family law call our team of specialist family lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Apr 26, 2023   ·   4 minute read
Boy learning to ride a bicycle with his father in park. Father teaching his son cycling at park.

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.
Louise Halford
Apr 28, 2022   ·   5 minute read
Selective focus kid boy putting pound coin on a moneybox isolated on white background, Adorable boy counting his saved coins and looking at cameara, Child learning about saving concept

How Much Does A Child Contact Order Cost?

It's hard to put a price on seeing your children. It is also hard for a children law solicitor to put a price on the cost of a child contact Order or child arrangement Order. In this blog expert children law solicitor, Louise Halford, takes a look at the cost of a child contact Order. Evolve Family Law are Cheshire, Manchester and Online Family and Children Law Solicitors. For legal help on family law and children law proceedings call us or complete our online enquiry form. Are child contact Orders worth the cost? Whether a child contact Order is worth the cost depends on who you speak to. Recently, ‘I am a celebrity’ winner and former EastEnders actor, Jo Swash, reportedly said that the money he spent in legal fees to get an Order to see his eldest son was ‘the best he’s ever spent’. We don’t think Jo Swash likes paying lawyers, it was more that he felt that it was only when his children law solicitors secured a child contact Order for him that he got to develop the sort of relationship that he wanted with his eldest son. It is undoubtedly always difficult when a couple split up and one person forms a relationship with someone who already has children or the new couple go on to have children together. The feelings of hurt can make it harder to agree contact arrangements and prompt court proceedings to secure a child arrangement Order so a parent can get to see their child. We don’t know exactly why Jo Swash and his ex-partner ended up in court or why they were not able to agree the child contact arrangements via children law solicitors or in family mediation. What children law solicitor, Louise Halford, does say is that she always tries to discourage children law court proceedings because of the cost ; to your purse and to your emotions. That may sound very odd coming from an experienced children lawyer. However, if you are able to reach a compromise and agree the contact it is normally better for both parents and the child. That is the case however much money you have available to spend on a child arrangement Order application. However, there are some situations where it is best to spend money on a child custody or contact Order, whether that is a child arrangement Order, specific issue Order or prohibited steps Order. For example: One parent is refusing to agree to any contact. A parent is alienating the child against the absent parent so the child is being turned against you. You are concerned that the child is at risk of harm (physical or emotional) by either living with or having contact with the other parent. You are worried that the child may be taken overseas to live against your wishes and that you won't get to find the child if they disappear in a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention. You may need a prohibited steps Order to prevent child abduction and to protect the child. You were in an abusive relationship and you fear that your former partner is using contact with the child as a means of seeing you and exercising control over you. Their behaviour may make you feel at physical risk or may have such an impact on your emotions that it affects your parenting. One parent is refusing to change the contact arrangements. For example, refusing to let an older child stay overnight with you or go on holiday with you and your new family. There are many other reasons why you as a parent may have no alternative other than apply to the family court for a child arrangement Order to sort out the child custody and contact arrangements but it is best to get independent and impartial children law advice before you make an application to court. The cost of a child contact Order It is difficult for any expert children law solicitor to tell you how much a child contact Order will cost you, however transparent a pricing structure they adopt. That is because in some situations the threat of starting court proceedings is sufficient to get a parent the sort of shared parenting or contact arrangements they want. In other scenarios, a parent can make allegations that the other parent isn’t expecting and firmly disputes. If those allegations go to the heart of whether a child should live with one parent or why a child should have restricted or no contact with the other parent then they need to be investigated by the court. This could involve a series of court hearings including a finding of fact hearing. At a fact finding hearing a family judge will decide if they can make a finding about an allegation. The standard of proof is lower than at a criminal hearing but a family court finding can have significant consequences for the current children law application and any future applications. After any findings have been made at a fact finding hearing the judge will then hold a separate hearing to look at what Orders are in a child’s best interests. For example, a judge might find that domestic violence occurred in the parental relationship but that the child is not at risk of domestic abuse and contact can be managed in a way that means the parents don’t come into direct contact with one another. The costs of a children law custody or contact application can't or should not be measured in purely financial terms. If there is a court hearing with both parents giving evidence it may further polarise the parents or it may create additional stress for an older child who is aware of the court application, possibly because they have been interviewed by a CAFCASS officer appointed by the court to find out the child’s wishes and assess what orders are in the child’s best interests as sometimes what a child wants (or says they want if there is an element of coaching) may not actually be best for the child. An expert children law solicitor can help you look at things from the perspective of a family judge so you have the understanding you need about child custody or contact proceedings  to decide if they are worth it to you or that you have the confidence to reach an agreement in family mediation or during solicitor negotiations. Evolve Family Law are Cheshire, Manchester and Online Family and Children Law Solicitors. For legal help on family law and children law proceedings call us or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Feb 24, 2022   ·   6 minute read
Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans

A children law solicitor's perspective on parenting plans   If you have separated from your partner or you are in the midst of divorce proceedings the most important thing to sort out are the child care arrangements for your children. In other words, whether the children will be co-parented or parallel parented or if one parent will be the primary parent looking after the children full time with the other parent having some contact. Whatever child care arrangement you come to, a parenting plan can help both parents understand the ground rules and reduce the risk of fall outs and  court applications for child arrangement orders. We are North West and Online Children Law Solicitors: For specialist family law help call us or complete our online enquiry form. Children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your frequently asked questions on parenting plans: What is a parenting plan? How do I agree a parenting plan? What should go into a parenting plan? How do you change a parenting plan? What is a parenting plan? A parenting plan is a document drawn up by parents to record the parenting arrangements for a child or children after a separation or divorce. A parenting plan can be agreed by parents or can be made after children court proceedings for a: Child arrangement order. Specific issue order. Prohibited steps order. Relocation order. How do I agree a parenting plan? There are many ways that parents can agree a parenting plan. You can use a template and prepare one yourself. Sometimes, that is a bad idea as ‘going it alone’ may make you end up arguing with your ex-partner and polarise your positions. With the help of a children law solicitor or family mediation you may be able to discuss child care arrangements and reach a compromise. What should go into a parenting plan? Every child and family are different so your parenting plan should  be individual to you and your child’s needs. The fact that a family member or a neighbour or friend has a parenting plan should not influence what should go into your parenting plan. That is because your parenting plan needs to set out the best agreement for your family, taking into account your family and personal circumstances and individual preferences. For example, some parents share care of their children with the children spending an equal amount of time with each parent. Other parents prefer their children to have one home base during the week and to share quality weekend and school holiday time. Neither option is the ‘best’ or the right one as so much depends on your family and each parent’s work commitments and the distance between the two homes. Every parenting plan should consider including what has been agreed on topics such as: Home base - unless parenting is to be shared equally. Contact or shared parenting arrangements such as the agreed times for collection and return and drop off points and who will do the collections and returns. The practical points on shared care and regular contact, such as the washing and return of school uniforms or the supervision of homework or who is responsible for clothes and shoes shopping or haircuts. Whether phone contact is to take place between parent and child and, if so, frequency so phone calls do not become too restrictive or intrusive for a parent with the care of a younger child. Special contact (child and parents birthdays and mother’s day and father’s day as well as Christmas and religious observance days) and holidays. Best method of communication between parents if contact or other arrangements need to be changed. For example, mobile, text or email. Communication could be over the need to cancel a visit or to agree a coordinated approach to the buying of birthday presents. Who is responsible for medical and dental appointments and communication about appointments or to say if a child is ill or hospitalised. How you will deal with parent evenings at school or attendance at school plays or sports days. How will you address the introduction of new partners and their children and communication of the information to your ex-partner. This sort of information is helpful so the other parent does not find out about new relationships or remarriage via the child. Whilst you may not want to communicate this type of personal information or receive the news about your ex-partner’s new relationship, a major reason for child care arrangement breakdown is non-communication over adult issues that also affect your child. Holiday plans - if you plan to go on holiday during your holiday contact time, is it agreed that you need to inform the other parent about your planned trips overseas or to a destination in the UK and give agreed key information such as flight times and numbers and hotel details and who else who will be accompanying the child on holiday. For example, a new partner and their children. Parenting plan changes - how you will agree to make changes to the parenting plan. [related_posts] How do you change a parenting plan? Children and their wants and needs do not stay the same. What are appropriate parenting arrangements for a two-year-old who is not in school may be completely different for an eleven-year-old. By the time a child is in their teenage years the arrangements will need to change again. Add to the mix that your circumstances may change with a new job, house or relationship and the arrival of additional children or step-children. Likewise, your ex-partner’s circumstances are likely to change resulting in a need to review the parenting plan. The fact that a parenting plan needs changing should not be a sign of defeat. For example, your five-year-old may not be able to cope with equal co-parenting, even if their cousin or other children in their class do so. Some children are just more adaptable than others. Alternatively, a parenting plan may need changing or tweaking because the only reason that a child is struggling with co-parenting or parallel parenting is different parenting regimes in the two households and two parenting styles that are confusing to the child because as soon as a child has got used to one routine they move to their other parent’s home. A parenting plan can be changed by email or you may prefer a meeting or to even set up an annual chat to review how things are working. The best thing is that if anything over the child care arrangements is ‘bugging you’ that you do not let things fester so things get acrimonious or even lead to children law court proceedings. Instead, it is preferable to agree to review the parenting plan, perhaps with the help of a children law solicitor or family mediator, before the arrangements break down or positions are polarised. It is also helpful to remember that as children get older, they will want to have a say in the parenting plan. For example, the ten o’clock Saturday contact start time may work for you but your teenager may want to stay in bed until noon or go out with their mates on a Saturday night. The key point with a parenting plan is that it should grow with you and your family and just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the best thing for your child or your ex-partner now. How can a children law solicitor at Evolve Family Law help? If you are struggling to agree child care arrangements after your separation or divorce ,or you want to change your parenting plan and your ex-partner is resisting, Evolve Family Law can help you to reach an agreement or secure a child arrangement order. We are North West and Online Children Law Solicitors: For expert family law advice call us now or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Feb 09, 2022   ·   7 minute read
Childcare Agreements

Childcare Agreements

North west Children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your questions on childcare agreements. Whether you are recently separated or if you have been divorced for some time, if you have children with your ex-partner there is always a connection with them. It does not matter whether you are co-parenting or parallel parenting or your former partner only has overnight contact once a fortnight, a childcare agreement is still important as that way you, your ex-partner and, most importantly, your children, all know where you stand and what the parenting arrangements are. In this article our children law solicitors answer: How do we agree a childcare agreement? What happens if parents can't agree on childcare arrangements? How do you apply for a child arrangement order? Can childcare agreements be changed? How do we agree a childcare agreement? When you are feeling upset about a separation or angry because your ex-partner has not paid child support it can be really hard to put your feelings aside and think about the childcare arrangements that best meet your child’s needs. Many parents find it too difficult to reach a childcare agreement on their own. That can be for many reasons, including: You don’t know your legal rights or Your ex-partner won't compromise – it is their way or no way. Your ex-partner was always very coercive and controlling and you are frightened of upsetting them because they will just make your life more difficult. Your ex-partner says that unless you do what they want they won't pay child support or spousal maintenance or agree a financial settlement. Your ex-partner wants to move overseas with the children or to the other end of the country and you don’t know if you can say no. Your ex-partner says they have agreed things direct with the children so you don’t get a say. You are worried about child abduction and fear that your ex-partner could take the children abroad to live without your agreement. If you don’t think that you can reach a childcare agreement direct with your former husband or wife then a children law solicitor or family mediator may be able to help you sort out an agreement or advise you on applying for a court order. With children law advice you can understand the type of childcare agreement you could reach and your options, such as: Co-parenting or parallel parenting where the children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. One home basis where the children live with one parent but the children have weekly or fortnightly overnight contact with the other parent. Relocation where one parent moves overseas or to another area of the country so contact is more limited to school holidays or long weekends. Whatever type of childcare agreement you reach with your former partner it is best to record the agreement in a parenting plan. Your family solicitor can help you draw this up. What happens if parents can't agree on childcare arrangements? If you can't reach a childcare agreement with your former partner then either of you could ask a family judge to decide on the parenting arrangements. A family court can decide on whether your children should be co-parented with an equal parenting regime of shared care or if one of you should be the primary carer and the other should have contact. This type of order is called a child arrangement order. You may be able to agree the day-to-day parenting of your children but not able to agree a specific issue, such as: Whether your children should be privately educated or If your ex-partner should be able to move overseas with the children or If your child should participate in religious observances or If your ex-partner should be prohibited from getting your children vaccinated. These sorts of issues can be resolved by a court making orders such as: Specific issue orders. Prohibited steps orders. Child relocation orders. School fees orders. How do you apply for a child arrangement order? If you can't reach a childcare agreement then you may need to consider applying for a child arrangement order or other type of children law order, for example, a specific issue order. It is best to get specialist children law legal advice before you start court proceedings as a solicitor can look at your prospects of getting the type of court order you want, and if that is not likely, whether a compromise can be reached to avoid children court proceedings. In some situations, you may need to attend family mediation before you can apply for a child arrangement order. A children lawyer can tell you if you fall within the exemption to thus rule and, if not, advise you on how to get the best out of family mediation. They can make sure you know your legal rights and can provide mediation support. A children solicitor can also help you convert any agreement reached in family mediation into a child arrangement order. If family mediation doesn’t work for you then to apply for a child arrangement order you will need to file a court application setting out what court order you want and briefly explain why. During the court proceedings the judge may order that detailed statements are filed at court. The judge can also order a CAFCASS report and expert reports. Depending on the complexity of the issues, the judge could order a finding of fact hearing before the court decides on what child arrangement order to make at a subsequent welfare hearing. If you do decide to apply for a child arrangement order, Northwest children law solicitors say it is best to focus on why the order you are seeking is in your child’s best interests rather than looking at things from your point of view. Therefore, don’t say ‘it is my right to have contact’ but instead give examples of why your children benefit from contact with you. [related_posts] Can childcare agreements be changed? Childcare agreements can be changed either by parental agreement or court order. Whether you need a court order will depend on whether your former partner agrees to the change and if there is an existing child arrangement order, specific issue order or prohibited steps order. Ideally, any change in parenting arrangements should be agreed rather than you making an application to court. However, children law solicitors understand that some issues cannot be resolved by agreement where both parents are adamant that what they want is best for their child. For example, where one parent wants to move to Spain where the child’s extended family lives and where they will have a better lifestyle but the other parent objects as they won't be able to enjoy as much contact time with their child. How can a children law solicitor at Evolve Family Law help? If you need help to reach a childcare agreement after your separation or divorce or you need advice on applying for a child arrangement order or other children law order we can advise you. We are north west and Online Children Law Solicitors: For expert family law advice call us or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Jan 27, 2022   ·   7 minute read
Mother Having Serious Conversation With Teenage Daughter At Home

Can a Parent Stop a Child From Seeing the Other Parent?

After a separation or divorce many parents want to stop their child from seeing the other parent. Sometimes those feelings are fleeting as a reaction to a parent turning up late for contact or because of an argument. In other families, one parent may believe that it in their child’s best interests to not have contact with the other parent. In this blog children law expert, Louise Halford, looks at whether a parent can stop a child from seeing the other parent after parental separation or divorce. ​Stopping contact between child and parent If you are thinking about stopping contact between your child and their other parent then it is best to take legal advice before stopping contact. If there is an existing child arrangement order in place you may be in breach of the court order if you stop contact without first applying to court to vary the child arrangement order to stop the contact. If there is no child arrangement order in force it is still best to get expert legal advice on your options. That is because if you stop contact your ex-partner may apply to court for a child arrangement order and, depending on the current level of contact and the reasons why you want to stop contact, they may even end up with more contact with your child. Should you stop contact between a child and the other parent? There are some scenarios when it is best for the child to stop contact. For example, if you fear child abduction and your child being taken out of the UK without your agreement or you are worried that the other parent is not able to care for the children during contact and doesn’t have the insight into their mental health issues or the extended family support to make contact safe for your child. However, there are other scenarios where it isn’t necessarily in your child’s best interests to stop contact even though the cessation of contact would make life a lot easier for you as you would not have to be in contact with your ex-partner over the contact arrangements. There are many situations where one parent often wants to stop a child having contact with the other parent, such as: The other parent has not paid child support or spousal maintenance. The other parent has met a new partner and you feel angry or hurt about it. The other parent gives you a lot of hassle and grief over the contact arrangements and you feel they are trying to control you through the communication that they have with you over childcare. You are worried that your ex-partner will be violent towards you at either collection or drop off time. The other parent is always late collecting the child or returning the child. The child does not do any homework whilst with the other parent and always returns tired after a contact weekend meaning that the child finds it hard to settle back into their routine and concentrate on their school work. The other parent won't follow the same parenting routine as you so you are seen as the disciplinarian and no fun. The child comes back from contact saying things about you that they have heard from the other parent. The child says they don’t want to see the other parent because contact is boring and they want to see their friends. The child doesn’t like the other parent’s new partner or their children. All of the above are very valid concerns that need legal advice and discussion with an expert children law solicitor but should not necessarily result in all contact stopping between your child and the other parent. [related_posts] What happens if I stop contact between my child and the other parent? If you stop contact between your child and the other parent then the other parent could: Apply to court to enforce an existing child arrangement order. Apply to court for a child arrangement order. Still turn up to see the child, for example, collecting the child from school. Not have contact and walk away – the child may not want this and therefore the child may be angry and hurt with you. In addition, the child may think of their other parent in an idealised fashion and as they are no longer having contact with the other parent the child forgets that the other parent was late in collecting them or did nothing with them during the contact visit other than watch television. It can help to discuss the likely outcome of an application for a child arrangement order by the other parent or an application by you for a children order, such as a prohibited steps order. That’s because it is best to understand the approach the family court will take to stopping contact and how they will weigh up what the judge thinks is in your child’s best interests. A children law solicitor can also discuss alternate options, such as: Family mediation to help you explain to your ex-partner your concerns about contact. Protective orders, such as domestic violence injunction orders if your ex-partner is harassing you, or you fear child abduction. Round table meeting with children law solicitors to discuss your concerns and reach a resolution. For example, agreeing a parenting plan with consistent parenting routines for the child or agreeing to supervised contact whilst your ex-partner is experiencing a period of mental ill-health. Family therapy that can involve an older child so they can explain how they feel about contact. Therefore, whilst it is tempting to stop contact between your child and their other parent it is normally best to take some time to reflect and to consider the consequences of the decision. We are family and children law solicitors For expert legal advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and applying for or opposing a child arrangement order application call us or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Jul 08, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Sweet moments of fatherhood concept, happy father hold embrace cute little child daughter, smiling black family daddy and small kid hugging cuddling enjoying time together at home

How Often Can a Father See His Child?

One of the most emotive topics after a separation or divorce is whether the children should live with their mother or father. Other key questions are whether the care of the children should be shared equally, and if the children are going to live with their mother, how often can the father see his child or children. In this blog, children law solicitor Louise Halford examines the law on child contact after a separation or divorce and answers your question ‘how often can a father see his child?’ Do children always stay with their mothers after a separation or divorce? It used to be the case that after a separation or divorce most children lived with their mother and the father had contact. In many families that remains the position. However, instead of it always being assumed that a child will live with their mother nowadays all options are on the table, including the child living with his or her father and the child having contact with the mother or a shared care arrangement. It isn’t so much that the law has changed but societal attitudes and working practices have changed. For a long time, the court has focussed on what children law order is in the best interests of the child when determining child custody and contact applications. When, in the past, a father traditionally went out to work and the mother was a housewife or worked part-time, it was often thought best that a child should continue to live with the primary care giver or the parent who was available to meet their day-to-day needs. With both parents now often working full-time or with a father being able to work from home, the best interests of the child may be best served by the child living with their father or a shared care arrangement. Is a father entitled to shared care if he wants to co-parent his child after a separation or divorce? Although much is written in the media about shared parenting being the norm or ideal, neither a mother or father is ‘entitled’ to share the care of their child after a separation or divorce. That’s because if parents can't agree on the childcare arrangements for their child and the court is asked to make a child arrangement order, the court will assess what order is in the child’s best interests. Shared care (whether that is an exactly equal split of time or a sixty-forty split of time or other percentage) may be the best option for the child but not necessarily. For example, shared care may not be likely to work if: Parents don’t live, or are not intending to live, relatively close to one another to ensure that the child is able to get to school from both homes. The child prefers to have one home base, rather than moving between homes. One parent’s work commitments mean that if parenting was shared the reality is that the child would be looked after during that parent’s parenting time by professional carers or through use of school clubs. The parents don’t get on at all and won't cooperate over parenting, making frequent handovers for the child disruptive and distressing. Shared care can be the ideal but it isn’t practical for every family and therefore it is not in the best interests of every child whose parents separate or divorce. When looking at childcare arrangements it is best not to think of ‘entitlement’ but what arrangements are likely to meet your child’s needs. Most children experts say that spending an equal amount of time with a child isn’t the key to successful parenting but ensuring that the time you do spend with your children is ‘quality ’ time. For time to be quality time it doesn’t have to be expensive outings, but being able to set aside time to read with younger children, help with homework, or transport to football practice or ballet club or just talking and taking an interest in what your children are doing at school or when they are with their other parent. [related_posts] How often can a father see his child? Fathers often want to know the worst-case and best-case scenarios of how often they will be able to see their child after a separation or divorce. So much depends on your personal circumstances.  For example, contact will be restricted if a mother successfully applies for a relocation order to enable her to move overseas with the child or contact will be more limited if a father has to move to a new area in the UK because of his work commitments. Many parents agree to split the week so children get to spend a roughly equal amount of time with each parent. For other families, the better option is for a child to live with one parent during the week and have midweek and alternate weekend contact. Contact with the child every weekend would mean that the residential parent of a school age child would not get to spend any quality time with the child. There is therefore no set rule about how often a father can see his child. That can be frustrating for some fathers who want certainty after a separation or divorce but not having set rules means that parents can work out what child contact arrangements or co-parenting works best for their family or the court can be asked to make a child arrangement order after assessing what is best for your child rather than following a fixed formula. We are Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors If you need help with your separation or divorce or representation in a child arrangements order application call us or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
Louise Halford
Apr 29, 2021   ·   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. 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. [related_posts] 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. We are 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 us 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.
Louise Halford
Apr 09, 2021   ·   7 minute read