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:
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:
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:
Handing over money to a former husband, wife, or ex-partner can be galling. That’s especially the case when you are paying child maintenance and you don’t think that your former spouse or ex-partner is spending the child maintenance on your child. In this article divorce settlement and child support solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at whether you can pay child maintenance direct to your child.Financial settlement and child maintenance solicitors
For legal help with a financial settlement or with child maintenance call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Who do you have to pay child maintenance to?
Child maintenance is normally paid to the parent who has primary care of the child. It isn’t paid to the child direct. Normally if child maintenance is paid after an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service, or after a financial court order is made in the family court, the Child Maintenance Service will encourage and the court will order that the child support is paid by direct debit to the receiving parent.
If parents reach an agreement over child support, and there is no Child Maintenance Service or court involvement, then it is possible to agree to pay the child maintenance direct to the child.
Is it best to pay child maintenance direct to a child?
You may think that as child maintenance is financial support for the child that payment of the money should go direct to an older child. However, child support isn’t just about a clothing or an entertainment allowance for an older child. Child maintenance is also meant to contribute towards the main carer’s household bills and other items, such as:
The mortgage or rent.
Utility bills and other expenses that the child benefits from. For example, the broadband or Sky television package.
Food and other essentials.
The child’s clothing.
The additional costs of looking after a child, such as presents, annual holiday , school trips etc.
Whilst you may say that:
Your former partner owns their home outright and so has no mortgage or
Your former partner lives with a partner who pays all the household bills or
You have no confidence that any of the money given to your former partner is spent on the child as the child is poorly clothed whilst your ex-partner has the latest technological gadget or designer clothing or is always off on a weekend away without the child.
The bottom line is that most parents say that they want child maintenance to be handed over to them, rather than given direct to the child. That’s because a direct handover of money can:
Make the child more aware of the parental conflict.
Create anxiety in the child.
Create conflict between child and main carer as the child sees all the child support as ‘their money’ to spend on themselves, rather than a contribution towards household expenses.
Can you split child maintenance between a child and the parent with care of a child?
If you are keen to pay child maintenance direct to your child you could have a conversation about whether you can pay some child maintenance by direct debit to your ex-partner and the balance direct to your child as a personal clothing or entertainment allowance.
Does the Child Maintenance Service taken into account money paid direct to a child?
If you pay money direct to a child and your ex-spouse or former partner then applies to the Child Maintenance Service for a child support assessment the Child Maintenance Service will carry out a calculation of your liability to pay child support. When calculating the amount of child support payable the Child Maintenance Service will look at your income rather than your outgoings and therefore won't take into account the payments made direct to your child.
Agreeing direct payments to a child
If you are able to reach an agreement on paying child support direct to a child then it is best to record that, either in your separation agreement or in your financial court order, as part of the overall financial settlement. However, if financial circumstances change, the parent with primary care could change their mind and ask for direct payments to be made.
Child support and financial settlements
If you have separated from a former partner or are in the midst of divorce proceedings with a husband or wife it is best to consider child support as part of your overall financial settlement, rather than look at it in isolation to other aspects such as payment of spousal maintenance and whether you will get to stay in the family home or if it will be sold or transferred to your partner.Financial settlement and child maintenance solicitors
For legal help with a financial settlement or child maintenance call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
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?’
Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation, divorce and children law matters. For help with contact and childcare arrangements after your separation or for representation in a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law has offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but the children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.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.
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. Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
If you need help with your separation or divorce or representation in a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
If parents are honest about their fears surrounding coming out of a bad relationship one of their biggest worries is whether their ex can take their child. Sometimes it is just a fear as your ex has no interest in seeing the child or providing child support. In other family scenarios your ex-husband, wife or partner may want to take the child as they know that is the one thing that will really devastate you or they may genuinely want to look after the child as much as you do but the two of you can't agree on the child care arrangements. In this blog our specialist children solicitor looks at whether your ex can take your child and your options.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. For help with concerns about childcare arrangements after separation or for representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Will the police help if my ex takes my child?
If your child is taken your first thought may be to call the police and, in any situation, where you fear that your child is at risk of harm then that is the best thing to do. Risk of harm is always a balancing act so whilst you may think that your child is being harmed by staying with their other parent the police may not think so unless there is some evidence that the child is at risk.
The police won’t remove a child from a parent’s care to police a family court order over child care arrangements if there is no apparent risk of immediate harm as generally the police will say that other than in an emergency situation family and children law matters should be sorted out by the family court. That should not stop you from calling them though in situations where you do have genuine welfare concerns, such as a parent with anger management issues where there were domestic violence issues in the relationship or a parent who appears under the influence of drink or drugs and incapable of safely caring for the child.
There are some family scenarios where it is best to get a family court order so that you can show the order to the police. For example, if you fear that your ex-partner will take your child overseas without your agreement you can make an application to the family court for a prohibited steps order to prevent the child being taken abroad. If you are concerned that you or your child is at risk of domestic violence then you can apply to the court for an injunction order. If you are worried about the safety of contact you can ask the court to make a child arrangements order. A child arrangements order can stop direct contact or say that contact should only take place if supervised or can set limits and conditions to the contact.
Take legal advice if you are worried that your ex may take your child
As every family situation is different it is best to take legal advice on your circumstances and best options for your family. For example, you may be worried about your ex-husband or ex-wife planning to move within the UK for work reasons and taking your child with them, thus preventing regular contact visits. Alternatively, you may fear that your ex-partner wants to return overseas to their country of origin or where relatives are already based, taking the children with them so at best you can only get to see the children once a year.
Children law solicitors say that if you are worried about your ex taking your child it is best to take specialist legal advice as quickly as possible because:
A children solicitor will be able to tell you where you stand legally and often knowing what your rights are can help manage your worries
It may be necessary to apply for an urgent court order, such as an injunction order or action to prevent child abduction to an overseas country with the making of a prohibited steps order
A solicitor’s letter to your ex-partner or an application for a child arrangements order may be needed to formalise the child care arrangements and ensure that your ex-partner is aware of the consequences of breaching your agreement or the child arrangements order.
What happens if a parent breaches a court order and takes a child?
If a parent breaches a family court order, such as a child arrangements order, prohibited steps order or specific issue order, enforcement action can be taken. It can be tempting to apply straight to court to enforce an order but it is best to take children law legal advice before doing so. For example, if a parent has returned a child home late on one occasion starting enforcement action for a breach of a child arrangements order may not be appropriate. However, if the late return on a Sunday night is affecting schooling and is a regular occurrence despite requests and letters, it may be appropriate to take action.
Children solicitors say that if an order is breached you may need to take speedy action. For example, if a parent keeps a child after a contact visit was due to end you don’t want to leave things so that the other parent can then argue that the status quo of the child living with you has changed and that the child is now happy and settled with them. In cases where child abduction overseas is feared then it is vital that speedy action is taken to avoid the child being taken abroad. That is because if the child is taken to a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention it may be hard to get an order for the child’s immediate return to the UK.
Whatever the nature of the breach of court order, the court can enforce the order and impose penalties on the parent who breached the court order. The penalties will depend on the court’s view about the circumstances of the breach of court order as well as the severity and frequency of the breach. The court can:
Impose a community service order and order a parent in breach of a child arrangement order to carry out up to 200 hours of community service
Fine the parent in breach of the court order
In rare cases a prison sentence can be imposed on the parent in breach of the court order
Order a parent to pay the other parent compensation if the breach of the court order led to loss, such as unpaid time off work.
As every breach of a court order has a different impact on a family it is best to take legal advice before applying to enforce an order as it may, for example, be preferable, to apply back to court to vary the existing child arrangements order or other type of children order.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. If you are worried about your ex taking your child or need representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
How you cope with a divorce is one of those questions that no-one, whether they’re a specialist divorce solicitor or a friend or relative who has been through their own divorce or relationship breakdown, can fully answer. That’s because only you know how you can best cope with your divorce. In this blog we look at some of the things that have helped others to cope with divorce and may be helpful. Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from separation to divorce proceedings, agreeing child custody and contact arrangements and financial settlements to representation in financial and children law proceedings. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Coping With Divorce
We all cope with life’s challenges in different ways, whether it is redundancy, bereavement or facing a major illness. Divorce is in many ways similar as you and your family are experiencing loss. That’s the case whether or not you are the one who wants to initiate the divorce proceedings and file for divorce or if you feel completely taken aback and ambushed by your husband or wife's decision to separate.
Coping with divorce isn’t easy especially when people say that you haven’t been married long and therefore assume that you shouldn’t be upset by your divorce or when friends make comments such as ‘’there are other fish in the sea’’. Most people want to deflect attention from themselves when asked ‘’how are you?’’ but one way of coping with a divorce is to give an honest answer. There are lots of other things that you can do to cope with divorce, such as:
Take some legal advice - often people are not just worried about their divorce but the risk that the children will move to live with their husband or wife and they won't see the children on a daily basis or how they will manage financially after the divorce. Often the big question is ‘’will I get to stay in the family home’’. The sooner you get some answers to those questions the better you will feel as then you will have an idea of what the future holds for you rather than worrying without knowing your divorce rights
Tell your divorce solicitor how you feel - divorce solicitors aren’t counsellors but they can put you in touch with individual or family therapists who will be able to help you. Also, if you feel strongly about something, whether it is keeping your business or your pension or being able to see your children on your birthday, then tell your solicitor as once they know what is important to you then they can act on that
Don’t listen to too many people- when you are getting divorced it can feel as if everyone is an expert, from your mother and best friend who both think that you shouldn’t get divorced to your work colleague and circle of friends and aunt who not only are encouraging you to get divorced and to take your husband or wife ‘’to the cleaners’’ but are also telling you that you will get to keep the family home, the family business and your pension. That’s normally because they say they did or they know a friend of a friend who did. Everyone’s financial and personal circumstances are different and it is easy to get overwhelmed by too much well-meaning advice
Don’t rush or delay - telling you to not rush but don’t delay may sound a bit perverse but from a divorce solicitor’s perspective you should not rush into divorce proceedings until you have had chance to think things through. Equally though, it can be harmful to you to delay making decisions because you will remain in limbo. That’s why it is important to strike the right balance and not feel rushed or pressurised into making decisions but on the other hand not allow things to drift so you remain in a situation that isn’t good for you
Tell your divorce solicitor if you have questions or don’t understand - whether you don’t understand the divorce process, the meaning and terms of a child arrangements order or the implications of a financial court order and pension sharing order on your future pension contributions then tell your divorce solicitor. Many people are embarrassed to ask questions and that just leads to more anxiety. A divorce solicitor wants to help you cope with your divorce and therefore wants to answer your questions. Everyone has different questions so don’t be afraid to ask yours
Think about yourself - when you are getting divorced all your attention may be focused on how your children are coping with the news of the separation or how your husband or wife has reacted to the news that you believe that the marriage has broken down or how your mother will come to terms with your divorce. Whilst thinking of others is important it is also necessary to think about yourself so you don’t reach a financial settlement based on the fact that the children want you to stay in the family home when they are already at university and you hate the house or agree a financial court order that gives your husband or wife a large financial settlement because you feel guilty about the separation and haven’t thought through the long term consequences for you, for example, in terms of your ability to buy a decent house or to fund your retirement.
Coping with divorce can be made easier with the right help and support and that can be provided through a combination of friends and family as well as professionals such as therapists, your doctor or divorce solicitor. The best help to cope with your divorce can't be packaged as we are all different but one of the most important ways to cope with your divorce is to take time out, away from the pressures of home and work life and children, to think about what help you need, whether it is practical, emotional or legal.Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
The friendly team of specialist divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law can help you with your separation and divorce proceedings, as well as child custody and contact and your financial settlement. For advice on your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
The Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.
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As specialist divorce and family law solicitors we are regularly asked by divorcing couples if they can skip mediation and go straight to court. It is understandable why some people think that mediation might slow the court process down, but in some situations, mediation can avoid the need for expensive or protracted family court litigation. In this blog we look at the circumstances where you can skip mediation and go straight to court.Manchester and Cheshire Family Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and divorce proceedings and resolving financial settlements and children law matters. For help with your family law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are based in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our family law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and are offering meetings by telephone appointment or video call.When Can You Skip Mediation to Resolve Family Law Issues?
Family lawyers say there are some situations where you and your ex-husband or ex-wife or separated partner don’t have to go to mediation before you can start court proceedings. Examples include:
Where the situation is a children law emergency – such as where you fear that the child will be taken overseas unless you secure a prohibited steps order to prevent child abduction
Where the situation is a potential financial emergency – such as where an estranged husband or wife is selling or transferring assets and you need the protection of a court order to stop them from disposing of assets to defeat your financial claims
Where there are domestic violence issues and you need the protection of an injunction order or it isn’t considered safe for you to engage in mediation.
There are other situations where family mediation can be skipped and you can start court proceedings without first attempting family mediation but family solicitors would question if that is necessarily a good idea.
What is family mediation?
Many spouses or separating couples want to skip mediation as they see it as a hurdle to overcome before a court will make a decision. However, lots of people don’t appreciate just how long it can take to secure a court order or how complex the process is. A specialist family law solicitor should explain all options to you so that you can make informed choices.
Family mediation is a voluntary form of non-court-based dispute resolution. The family mediator is an impartial third party who helps you reach a resolution to family issues such as child care arrangements or your financial settlement. The mediator should ensure that you both listen to one another even though you may not agree with what the other has to say. The job of the mediator to help you find a solution that works and is acceptable to both of you.
Normally family mediation takes place with a family mediator sitting in a room with both of you and the mediator uses their skills to help you reach your own agreement, rather than have an order imposed on you by a family court judge.
If that type of family mediation doesn’t appeal to you then either shuttle mediation or solicitor involved mediation can take place. In shuttle mediation you and your partner do not meet in the same room and instead the mediator shuttles between rooms to help you reach an agreement. In solicitor involved mediation each of you can have your solicitor involved in the mediation sessions as well as providing legal support outside the mediation sessions.
Why use family mediation to resolve your family law problems?
Although you may want to skip mediation it is best to take some legal advice before starting court proceedings as not all family law solicitors recommend the use of court proceedings to resolve every type of family law issue, whether it is sorting out who gets to keep the family home, how pensions are shared or the child care arrangements for the children.
You may have a preconceived view about mediation because it didn’t work for your friends or a family member going through a divorce or because you are worried that the mediator will side with your ex-partner or that you will be bullied into reaching an agreement. Talking to a family solicitor about your concerns about mediation can help and in addition you can:
Make sure that you get the right legal support during mediation so that you know your legal rights and the potential likely outcomes of any court proceedings
Get your family solicitor to help choose a mediator with the particular skills you need to try to make mediation work for you
If you are worried about being in the same room as your partner looking at the option of shuttle mediation.
What are the alternatives to family mediation?
If you don’t want to use family mediation or family mediation doesn’t work for you then there are other alternatives to court proceedings, such as:
Round table meetings
A specialist family law solicitor will talk you through the various options with the focus being to use a resolution method that gives you the best outcome for you and your family. In some situations, court proceedings are the only realistic option to reach a resolution. For example, where a former husband or wife is refusing to give financial disclosure so a reasonable financial settlement can't be reached in the absence of information that the court can order is disclosed as part of the court financial disclosure process.
An experienced family law solicitor won’t have a fixed view about the best method for you to reach a financial or child care resolution but instead will listen to your concerns and questions and help you work out the best option for you. They may say that skipping family mediation isn’t in your best interests as it could be the cheapest and quickest way of your reaching a resolution and that with mediation support from a specialist family lawyer you won’t feel as if you were bullied into a resolution that hasn’t been reality tested or that doesn’t meet your needs as you felt you weren’t able to express them during mediation.
Manchester and Cheshire Family Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation, divorce , financial settlements and children law matters. For help with your family 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 our family law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and are offering meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
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Cheshire children law solicitors are often asked ‘how long does it take to get a child arrangements order?’ It is an understandable question as any parent is naturally anxious about starting children law court proceedings and wants to have a good idea about the likely timescales for getting a child arrangements order as well as the cost and prospects of success. In this blog children law solicitor Louise Halford looks at how long it takes to get a child arrangements order.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
For advice about children law or making a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law solicitors, based in Holmes Chapel Cheshire and Whitefield North Manchester, on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment.What is a child arrangements order?
Not everyone knows what a UK child arrangements order is. That’s because unlike the old child custody orders the name isn’t particularly clear but child custody and child access orders were relabelled as child residence and child contact orders and the latest renaming is the ‘child arrangements order’.
A child arrangements order can combine both custody and contact as the order can say where the child lives (there could be a primary carer or a shared carer arrangement) and with whom the child should have contact with. The contact could be regular overnight contact, mid-week contact, holiday contact or even indirect contact.
Does a court automatically make a child arrangements order if parent’s separate or divorce?
UK children law says that the court should not make a child arrangements order unless the order is necessary because there is a dispute between separated parents that they can't resolve by agreement or family mediation. If parents can't agree on the appropriate and best childcare arrangements for their child after a separation or divorce either parent, whether you are an unmarried or married parent, can apply to the family court for a child arrangements order.
How long does it take to get a child arrangements order?
It is difficult to answer the question ‘how long does it take to get a child arrangements order?’ as much depends on the family circumstances. Experienced children law solicitors have been known to secure an urgent child arrangements order in a matter of hours. For example, if a parent is worried that the other parent is under the influence of drink or drugs and it is unsafe to return a young child to them but the parent won't accept that or get help or agree to the child staying with the other parent until they are capable of looking after the child again.
When the court is asked to make an urgent child arrangements order it will normally last for a short period of time until the court can assess what long term child arrangements order is in the child’s long term best interests.
In other child arrangements order applications it can take months to secure a child arrangements order. For example, if one parent says that a child won't see the other parent or that the parent has emotionally or physically abused the child the court may want to carry out detailed investigations and order reports before making a decision on contact and what child arrangements order is best for the child. That sort of extended timescale can be very frustrating for a parent, especially where false allegations have been made against them or they fear parental alienation is taking place. The court proceedings can take a long time to determine as the family judge may want to hold a series of interim court hearings (for example, a finding of fact hearing to determine if the parent’s allegations of abuse are true) or to order an independent assessment by a CAFCASS officer or a report by a child psychologist.
If you can't reach an agreement on the arrangements for your child then it is best to speak to an experienced children law solicitor on the likely timescale to get a child arrangements order as they will listen to why you need a child arrangements order and your concerns, discuss any complexities, and then be able to give you a realistic timescale for the court proceedings and the prospects of the court making interim child arrangements orders until the final hearing of the court application. Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors
At North Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law we recognise that not being able to agree on child care arrangements and applying for a child arrangements order can be a stressful experience. For pragmatic specialist children law advice from friendly and approachable children law solicitors call Evolve Family Law to discuss how we can help you with your child arrangements order application or to discuss the potential legal costs of going to court for a child custody order. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form . We can set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment so you can speak to an experienced Cheshire children law solicitor.
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