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Child Arrangement Orders – Your Questions Answered

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

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
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. 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

Northwest 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. Northwest and Online Children Law Solicitors: For specialist family law help call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. 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. 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. [related_posts] 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. Northwest and Online Children Law Solicitors: For expert family law advice call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Jan 27, 2022   ·   7 minute read
Grandparent Rights – Going to Court to See The Grandchildren

Grandparent Rights – Going to Court to See The Grandchildren

The newspapers are reporting that Thomas Markle has given an interview and said that he will take his daughter, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, to court for access to his two grandchildren, Archie and Lilibet. He has reportedly never met his grandchildren following the breakdown of his relationship with his daughter. The news headlines will have made many UK grandparents who have been refused contact with their grandchildren question what their legal rights are. Grandparent rights Grandparents can struggle with seeing their grandchildren for a variety of reasons, from their children moving to the other side of the UK or disagreements with their child or their son or daughter- in-law that leads to little or no contact with their grandchildren. As specialist children law solicitors, we are always reluctant to talk about ‘grandparent rights’ until grandparents have tried to reach an amicable resolution over contact with their grandchildren. If that can't be achieved through direct discussion then you may be able to reach an agreement through family mediation or solicitor negotiations. Talk of rights and court proceedings should only be raised if all other avenues have been explored. You may question why Evolve Family Law doesn’t advocate immediate court proceedings as we are, after all, experts in court representation in contact proceedings. It is because of our expertise that we recommend you try alternatives first as giving evidence in court proceedings can further polarise families. Sometimes pragmatic, inexpensive advice is what you need. Grandparent contact proceedings If you can't resolve matters by agreement, you may have no choice other than to apply to court to see your  grandchildren. If court proceedings are necessary, the children law solicitors at Evolve Family Law will work hard to ensure that the court proceedings are focused on why contact with your grandchildren is in your grandchildren’s best interests and to try to avoid escalating family tensions. If a grandparent wants to apply to court for contact it is a two-stage process. That is because grandparents don’t have a legal right to start an application for a child arrangement Order to secure grandparent contact without first obtaining court permission to make their application. The two-stage process should not deter you from applying to court as most grandparents receive court leave to make a full application for contact. Grandparents applying for child arrangement Orders A child arrangements Order is the new name for a contact or access order. If a parent, grandparent, or other relative wants contact with a child then this is the Order you will need to apply for. When the court looks at the application by a grandparent for permission to apply for a child arrangement Order the court will assess: Your connection with the child. The nature of the application for contact. Whether your application might be potentially harmful to your grandchild’s well-being. Once you have obtained permission to pursue your contact application to obtain a child arrangement Order the court will give directions on your substantive application, such as the filing of statements. At any stage in the court proceedings, you can reach an agreement over grandparent contact so you don’t have to proceed with your application. If you can't reach an agreement then a judge, at the final hearing of your court application, will decide what Orders are in your grandchild’s best interests. The court uses what is referred to as the ‘welfare checklist’ to decide what Order to make whether the application for contact is being made by a parent, grandparent, or other family member. Will I get contact with my grandchildren? ‘Will I get contact with my grandchildren?’ is the question that children law solicitors are asked. It is best to look at the factors that the court considers, and weigh them up, so you know the approach that a family judge will take as that may help you to decide whether to start court proceedings or whether to accept what you view as a compromise over contact with your grandchild.  When the court is deciding a question relating to a child’s upbringing and contact , the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. That means what is best for the child can trump the parent’s views or what you want. The court considers a set check list of factors when making orders relating to a child. The judge will make their decision based on what they think is best for a child. For example, a parent may want their child to have no contact with a grandparent and the grandparent may want weekly contact. The judge may say monthly contact is best because of the child’s weekend sporting or other commitments whilst recognising the importance of the child having a meaningful and ongoing relationship with their grandparents. How Evolve can help with grandparent contact disputes It is hard to accept that you aren’t seeing your grandchildren, especially when your friends talk about what they get up to with their own grandchildren. Getting grandparent law advice on your best options can help you understand what steps you can take to see your grandchildren. [related_posts] Louise Halford is an expert in children law and grandparent rights. She has many years of experience in helping grandparents gain contact with their grandchildren and understands the pain and pressures grandparents feel under when they can't get to see their grandchildren for reasons outside their control. For expert, empathetic advice call Louise or complete our online enquiry form. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.
Louise Halford
Jul 27, 2021   ·   5 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.Family and children law solicitors  For legal help and advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and contact orders call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.​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. 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.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 Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jul 08, 2021   ·   6 minute read
When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

When money is going out of your bank account each month in child maintenance it isn’t surprising that many parents question when the child maintenance will stop. Equally, if you are a parent looking after a strapping twenty-year-old who hasn’t got a job and can't get one, then you will have a different point of view about when child maintenance should stop. In this blog children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your questions on when child maintenance stops.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. For help with all your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.When does child maintenance stop? Child maintenance is the financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child over the money payable to financially support your child after your separation or divorce. Parents make assumptions about when child maintenance stops. Common assumptions include: Child maintenance stops if the parent getting the child maintenance has remarried or is in a new relationship Child maintenance stops if the person getting the child maintenance is earning more than the parent who provides the child support Child maintenance stops if the parent receiving child maintenance refuses child contact and won't let the other parent have a relationship with the child Child maintenance stops if there is someone else helping with financial support for the child, for example a grandparent. All of these assumptions are wrong. It is important to understand that child maintenance isn’t affected by the status of parental relationships or whether one parent is breaching a child arrangement order and refusing contact. You may however be able to stop spousal maintenance or start court proceedings to reduce or stop spousal maintenance or to enforce a child arrangement order. How long is child maintenance payable for? If child maintenance has been calculated by the Child Maintenance Service you will need to pay child maintenance until: Your child is sixteen or Your child is under twenty if they are in approved education or training or The Child Maintenance Service assessment is cancelled. For example, because the child comes to live with you or the care of the child is shared equally or the child is adopted. If you are in any doubt about whether you can stop child maintenance when there is a Child Maintenance Service assessment in place it is best to take specialist legal advice as you don’t want to find out that you are still liable to pay child support and arrears have mounted up. If you are paying child maintenance on a voluntary basis to the other parent then you can stop child maintenance at any time. However, stopping child maintenance early is likely to result in an application for a Child Maintenance Service assessment and you could be assessed as liable to pay more in child support than you were paying on a voluntary basis. Stopping child maintenance payable under a court order The court can only make child support orders in limited circumstances. For example: Where both parents agree to the making of a child maintenance order or To cover the additional costs of caring for a disabled child or To cover private school fees – referred to as a school fees order or To provide child support for a step-child who was treated as a child of the family during the marriage or civil partnership or To provide for additional child maintenance after the Child Maintenance Service has made a maximum award under the Child Maintenance Service assessment process. This is referred to as top up child maintenance. If you are paying child maintenance or receiving child support under a court order it is best to take legal advice before stopping the payments or threatening court action. That is because the type of child maintenance order and the wording in the order may determine when child maintenance will stop or the court options open to you. For example, a child maintenance order may say that the child support order will continue until the children finish their A levels, but if over a year has elapsed from the date the child maintenance order was made you won't be able to apply to court to enforce the order. For example, if an order is made for payment towards the costs of a disabled child the order may not be age limited if the child will continue to need specific disability related provision into adulthood.  Varying child maintenance   Although you may not be able to stop child maintenance you may be able to vary the amount you pay either by: Asking the Child Maintenance Service to vary the assessment Asking the court to vary the child maintenance order Agreeing to a change in the amount of child support that is paid on a voluntary basis. Circumstances justifying a variation could include: You losing your job or taking a pay cut Your caring overnight for the children on a more frequent basis The children going to boarding school The children no longer living in the UK and you having increased travel costs to see them. It is best to take expert legal advice on child maintenance variation to see if you have the grounds to reduce child support rather than unilaterally assuming that you have the power to reduce the amount of child support payable. Remember that child maintenance can be varied upwards as well as downwards.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors For fast friendly family law and child support advice call Evolve Family Law. Our specialist family law solicitors can help you with divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. 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 we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jun 10, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Boy learning to ride a bicycle with his father in park. Father teaching his son cycling at park.

How Much Child Maintenance Should I Pay?

The question “ How much child maintenance should I pay?” isn’t always a straightforward one or an easy question for a Cheshire family law solicitor to answer. That’s because most family circumstances need exploring before a definitive answer can be given so you understand how child support fits into your overall divorce financial settlement. In this article, children law solicitor, Louise Halford, answers your frequently asked questions on how much child maintenance you should pay.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.What is child maintenance? Child maintenance and child support are one and the same thing to divorce solicitors. So, whilst you may hear reference to child support it is the same as child maintenance, namely the financial  support paid by one parent to the other parent or primary carer of the child for the child’s upbringing and support. What child maintenance does not cover is: Payment of school fees – if a child is being privately educated and payment of school fees is in dispute you can apply to the family court for a school fees order that the other parent pay all or a proportion of the private school fees and any specified extras Payment of spousal maintenance – if the other parent requires financial support in addition to the child maintenance provided for the child’s upbringing then the parent can apply to the family court for spousal maintenance provided that they are eligible to do so. For example, you cannot apply for spousal maintenance from a former spouse if you have remarried. Child maintenance is in essence the financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child over the money payable to financially support the child after parental separation or divorce. The amount of child maintenance payable is not dependant on the status of the parent’s relationship. In other words, whether child support is payable and the amount of child support isn’t affected by whether you are in a married or cohabiting relationship. However, under current law an unmarried partner can't claim spousal maintenance whereas a husband or wife or civil partner can do so from their separated or divorced spouse or civil partner. Is child maintenance payable if you don’t see the child? If you are a separated parent and you don’t see your child , either as a result of your decision, a child arrangement order by the family court or you don’t see your child frequently because of distances and difficulties with travel, you will still need to pay child maintenance. Your legal obligation to pay child maintenance only stops if the child is adopted. How is child maintenance calculated? Child maintenance can be calculated and paid under: A private arrangement- this is between you and the other parent Under a court order – in limited circumstances the family court has the power to make a child maintenance order Through a Child Maintenance Service assessment – the Child Maintenance Service is a government body tasked with calculating and securing payment of child maintenance. How long is child maintenance payable for? You will need to pay child maintenance until: Your child is sixteen or Your child is under twenty if they are in approved education or training or Until you agree otherwise if payments are made on a voluntary basis under a family arrangement. Arranging child maintenance with the other parent You don’t have to involve a solicitor or the Child Maintenance Service to sort out how much child maintenance you should pay if you prefer to sort it out direct with the other parent. However, divorce solicitors recommend that you take some specialist legal advice so you understand how child maintenance fits in with the overall financial settlement, such as whether spousal maintenance is payable and for how long or who gets to stay at the family home. It is also important to reality test the proposed amount of any agreed child maintenance to make sure that you will still have enough  to live on, especially when you have rehoused yourself and taken on a new mortgage or are incurring extra costs because of travelling to see the children. The best point about agreeing child maintenance with the other parent is that you can agree any figure that you want to with the child’s mother or father. You don’t have to use the strict mathematical formula adopted by the Child Maintenance Service but instead can look at what the child needs and what you can afford to pay. Arrangements can be flexible and could involve you paying less than what the Child Maintenance Service would assess you as being liable to pay because you have agreed to share the costs of private nursery fees or after school or holiday clubs or you agree to pay an older child a set monthly amount in clothing and pocket money allowance. Alternatively, you can agree that payments should be higher than the Child Maintenance Service would assess you as being liable to pay because you are able to afford a higher figure and you want your child to be able to enjoy a similar standard of living to that experienced whilst you were living together as a family. If you agree child maintenance payments direct it is best to remember that you can't bank on the child maintenance payments staying the same. If payments are made on a voluntary basis they could change, for example, they could go down if the parent paying child support realises that that the agreed figure is unaffordable because they have had to take on a big monthly mortgage commitment to buy a new property. If direct arrangements break down you can try to reach a new agreement using family solicitors or family mediation or an application could be made to the Child Maintenance Service. Using the Child Maintenance Service If you decide to use the Child Maintenance Service the government agency can calculate the amount of child maintenance you should pay or receive. The Child Maintenance Service uses a strict mathematical formula to assess the amount of child support. This formula does not consider the child’s outgoings (such as nursery fees) or the receiving parent or paying parent’s outgoings but instead focusses on the paying parent’s income. Once the Child Maintenance Service has calculated the amount of child support payable the payments can be made direct between parents or collected through the Child Maintenance Service. If you use the Child Maintenance Service to collect and transfer the child support then the Child Maintenance Service will charge a fee. That’s why it is preferrable to arrange payment direct if it is possible to do so. Who can't use the Child Maintenance Service to calculate child support? You can't make an application to the Child Maintenance Service for child support if: You have care of your child and you live outside the UK or The parent who is liable to pay child support lives outside the UK and doesn’t work for a British company or You are seeking child support for a step child. If you are married or you were previously married and the child was treated as a child of the family you may be able to apply to court for a child support court order You need child maintenance to cover school fees or the additional costs arising out of a child’s disability. You may be able to apply to court for an order to pay these costs You agreed a financial court order that includes a child support order for the child and the order is either less than twelve months in age or the financial court order was made prior to the 3 March 2003. How much child maintenance should I pay? The amount of child maintenance that you should pay is calculated by looking at: Your weekly gross income – this could be your salary or self-employed earnings The number of children you need to pay child maintenance for Whether there are children living with you in your new household – these could be step children or children you have had with a new partner The amount of overnight contact time you enjoy with the children you are paying child maintenance for – overnight contact time is averaged over a year rather than looked at on a weekly or monthly basis. You can calculate the amount of child maintenance you should pay or you should receive using the government online child support calculator but it is best to look at child maintenance within the context of your financial settlement so you understand how child support fits in with spousal maintenance and the split of capital or who gets to stay in the family home. It is also important to understand that child maintenance can go up or down or could end if the child moves to live with their other parent or there is a shared care arrangement.Manchester and Cheshire family solicitors For fast friendly family law advice call Evolve Family Law. Our specialist family law solicitors can help you with divorce proceedings,  child custody and contact , financial settlements and child maintenance. 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 we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call. ​Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jun 03, 2021   ·   9 minute read