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:
If you are thinking about starting divorce proceedings you may have read that English divorce law is changing. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to wait before you start divorce proceedings or that it is in your best interests to do so. In this blog, Manchester divorce solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at the current five grounds for divorce.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors
Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from separation to divorce proceedings, child custody and contact arrangements and representation in financial settlements. 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.The 5 grounds for divorce
Strictly speaking, a divorce solicitor will tell you that there is actually only one ground for divorce in England and Wales, namely that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, you have to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage under current divorce law by proving one of five facts.
The five facts are:
Unreasonable behaviour or
Two years separation and your husband or wife agrees to the divorce or
Five years separation – your husband or wife does not have to agree to the divorce if you have been separated for five years or more.
How do you prove you have the grounds for a divorce?
Many people are embarrassed at the thought of starting divorce proceedings and having to prove something like adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Equally, if you are on the receiving end of a divorce petition it isn’t nice to think that you have been accused of unreasonable behaviour or adultery. You may also worry about the effect of the divorce proceedings on your financial settlement or the childcare arrangements.
Divorce solicitors say that proving that you have the grounds for divorce is normally not as complicated or as difficult as you may envisage. Gone are the days when you had to send a private investigator to a hotel to prove adultery. If you want to start divorce proceedings based on adultery then all you need to say in the divorce petition is that your husband or wife has committed adultery with a person whose identity you prefer not to reveal and that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. The respondent to the divorce petition just has to confirm that adultery took place, without the need to go into further details.
Importantly, if you get divorced on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour the basis for the divorce proceedings is only ever relevant in any child arrangement order application or divorce financial settlement proceedings in very rare circumstances. For example, if divorce proceedings are started on unreasonable behaviour and one of the allegations is that the respondent to the divorce petition physically assaulted the child. This allegation would be relevant in any child custody case. However, just because an allegation is contained in the divorce petition that you don’t agree to, it doesn’t mean that you have to defend the divorce proceedings provided that you are in agreement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
When are divorce proceedings contested?
As it is possible to agree to get divorced without accepting all the allegations of unreasonable behaviour or without going into a lot of detail about the adultery, most divorce proceedings are not contested. After all, it doesn’t make sense to most people to challenge divorce proceedings if they accept that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and understand that the contents of the divorce petition won't affect the financial settlement or the childcare arrangements.
Why is it best to get divorce legal advice?
As it is actually easier to get divorced under current law than many people think, divorce solicitors advise that it is best to take specialist legal advice so that:
You don’t assume that you should not start divorce proceedings now and instead wait until you can start a no-fault divorce when the new law comes into force
You protect yourself, if necessary, by starting divorce proceedings straight away. For example, if you fear that your husband or wife is hiding money from you or transferring assets to other family members or you are worried that your spouse is spending to excess or is at risk of bankruptcy
You don’t assume that you need to contest divorce proceedings based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour because the petition is very unlikely to affect either the financial settlement or child care arrangements. In addition, you can preserve your right to challenge any false allegation in the financial settlement or child arrangement order court proceedings
You understand your divorce options as, for example, even if your husband or wife has committed adultery you may not be able to start divorce proceedings on that basis if you lived together as a couple for six months or more after they committed adultery and you were made aware the adultery. Sometimes your divorce options may surprise you as you can get divorced on the basis of two years separation if you have lived together in the same family home for two years provided that you have lived ‘separate and apart’ within the same household and your husband or wife consents to a divorce
You protect yourself, if necessary, by either not starting divorce proceedings straight away or deferring applying for the decree absolute of divorce
You understand the impact of the divorce proceedings and pronouncement of your decree absolute. For example, the impact of your separation and divorce on your immigration status if you are in the UK on a family visa or the effect of your divorce on your tax status and the tax treatment of the transfer of assets between yourself and your former husband or wife.
Most divorce solicitors say that it isn’t just navigating the divorce process that is important but also understanding how your divorce fits in with any financial settlement or childcare arrangement that you either agree or ask the court to determine.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, 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.Latest From Our Divorce 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:
You may have read in the news that if you are getting divorced you may be eligible to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help pay for family mediation. In this article, our divorce expert, Robin Charrot, answers your questions on the new mediation voucher scheme and looks at the importance of legal mediation support.
Divorce and Family Law Solicitors
For legal help with your divorce and mediation support for your financial settlement or childcare arrangements call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.The family mediation voucher scheme
The Ministry of Justice has announced that it has allocated one million pounds to enable up to 2,000 separating or divorcing couples to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help towards the costs of family mediation.
Divorce solicitors say that competition for the £500 vouchers may be fierce as the Ministry of Justice says that the vouchers will be allocated on a ‘ first-come first-serve’ basis, rather than on a points or any other type of allocation system.
What does the family mediation voucher scheme cover?
The mediation voucher scheme covers family mediation on a range of family law issues, such as:
Financial settlement after a separation or divorce where there is also a dispute over children and either ongoing or potential children law proceedings.
Why has the family mediation scheme been introduced?
The family mediation voucher scheme has been introduced at this stage to help reduce court applications and to encourage the use of family mediation. That’s because the government believes that family mediation is a better, quicker and cheaper option than separating and divorcing couples starting family court proceedings to resolve child custody and contact issues or to secure a financial settlement.
When will the family mediation voucher scheme operate from?
The scheme was introduced on the 26 March 2021 under Practice Direction 36V (Family Mediation Voucher Scheme). The practice direction will expire after a year and the mediation vouchers will only be available whilst funding lasts.
Does the voucher scheme cover the cost of attending a MIAM?
The family mediation voucher scheme doesn’t cover the cost of attending the mediation information and assessment meeting (referred to as a MIAM). This initial meeting with a mediator is designed to check that mediation is suitable before family mediation is commenced. To be eligible for the voucher, both parties to the family mediation must have attended a MIAM on or after the 26 March 2021. One can't have attended the MIAM before the 26 March 2021 and the other after the 26th.
Can both parties to the family mediation receive a voucher?
The £500 mediation voucher is per family and may not cover the total cost of the mediation sessions as your mediation costs will depend on your choice of family mediator and the number of mediation sessions that you require. The voucher is paid direct to the mediator, rather than given to either party to the mediation to use to pay the mediator’s bill. The £500 mediation voucher is inclusive of vat.
Is there a financial eligibility cap for the mediation voucher?
There are no financial eligibility criteria for the family mediation voucher. Anyone who meets the MIAM date and mediation subject criteria may be able to secure a £500 mediation voucher to cover or contribute towards their mediation costs.
Who pays for family mediation if a mediation voucher isn’t available?
If you can't secure a family mediation voucher because:
One of you attended a MIAM before the 26 March 2021 or
You are mediating on a financial settlement only and there are no childcare issues to mediate or
The mediation voucher scheme runs out of funds or
For any other reason.
Then the usually the mediator will check if either one of you is eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of mediation. If neither of you are eligible for mediation legal aid then you will need to agree on how the mediation sessions will be funded. You can either agree to share the mediation costs equally or come to another agreement, such as that one of you will pay for the mediation sessions or that the mediation sessions will be paid for out of your joint savings account.
Even if you do secure a £500 mediation voucher, if you go to a number of mediation sessions the voucher may not the total mediation cost. That’s why it is best to agree on how you will share any mediation cost in excess of the £500 voucher.
Does the mediation voucher cover the cost of mediation support?
The mediation voucher doesn’t cover the cost of mediation support from a divorce solicitor. However, mediation support can be very cost effective. Taking legal advice before and/or after mediation sessions can help you understand:
Your legal options, such as the type of court application that you could commence or your former partner could start.
The likely range of orders that a court could make if you or your former partner started court proceedings.
The potential costs of applying for a court order or responding to a court application and the timescale for completion of the court proceedings.
The impact of any issues raised in mediation. For example, financial disclosure issues raised during the mediation process where you are trying to reach a financial settlement.
Whether proposals put forward in mediation are within the range of orders that a family court would be likely to make if either you or your ex-partner were to start family law court proceedings.
Legal advice on any aspects that are making it hard to reach a compromise in mediation. For example, if one of you believes that you have a legal right to equal parenting or one of you believes that an inheritance or a pension isn’t relevant to any financial settlement discussions.
The legal process to sort out your divorce or to draft a separation agreement or to secure a financial court order or draw up a parenting plan and the legal status of a financial court order or parenting plan.
By receiving mediation support and getting the legal advice you need during the mediation process you may be more likely to have the confidence to reach a mediated agreement. Evolve Family Law can help you with independent specialist family law advice before and after mediation to support and guide you, including advice on any of the post-mediation documentation that may be necessary.Divorce and family law solicitors
For legal help with your divorce and mediation support for your financial settlement or childcare arrangements 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 Divorce & Separation 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:
For those who have decided to separate or divorce, either because of COVID-19 related pressures or the global pandemic has reinforced the decision to go your separate ways, the next step is for one of you to move out of the family home. You should not permanently leave the family home without first taking legal advice. However, as Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries where neither the husband nor wife can easily move out of the family home. Enquirers want to know if they can be legally separated and live in the same house as their estranged spouse.
Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from your separation to divorce proceedings, agreeing child custody and contact arrangements and financial settlements to representation in financial and children law proceedings. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
What is a legal separation?
A legal separation is where a husband and wife obtain a decree of judicial separation from the family court. If you haven’t heard of judicial separation it isn’t surprising as applications for judicial separation are rare because:
If you obtain a judicial separation you will still need to get divorced at a later stage, for example, if you want to remarry or if you want a clean break financial court order preventing any further financial claims between husband and wife.
You don’t need a legal separation for official purposes. You can just tell agencies, such as the Inland Revenue or the Local Authority, that you are separated.
Do I need a legal separation?
People often assume that they need a legal separation or judicial separation decree, but they don’t unless they have a religious or cultural objection to a divorce and want to formalise their separation. If you plan to get divorced later, you don’t need a judicial separation first as you can sort out your financial affairs by signing a separation agreement.
Can you separate and live in the same house?
You can separate or even divorce and still live in the same house. Some couples think that if they continue to live together, they can't get divorced but that isn’t correct. Under current English divorce law, you can get divorced if you have lived ‘separate and apart’ for two years provided your husband or wife consents to the divorce. It is best to take some legal advice about the grounds for divorce proceedings as you may not need to wait two years before being able to start divorce proceedings.
Living separate and apart in the same household, for the purposes of divorce proceedings, means that there must be a degree of separation between husband and wife. For example, you can't cook for one another or do the other person’s laundry or ironing or shopping.
Separating and your spouse won't leave the family home.
If you have taken the decision to separate and your husband or wife won't leave the family home then if things become impossible in the one house there are options, such as:
An application for an injunction order – an occupation order can give you the right to occupy the family home to the exclusion of your partner until long term ownership or sale of the property is determined by agreement between you or by the court in divorce and financial settlement proceedings.
An application for spousal maintenance so that you can afford to leave the family home and rent somewhere until long term ownership or sale of the family home is decided. It is best to take specialist legal advice from a divorce solicitor before leaving the family home and moving into rented accommodation.
Separating and can't sell the family home.
Most people would agree that it is a tricky housing market so whilst you may have decided to separate or divorce you may not be able to sell the family home. You can be separated or divorced and still be living at the family home though for some it won't be a very comfortable experience. Even in the best situations where you are splitting up amicably it can still feel as if you are in limbo with your life suspended until you can achieve the sale of the family home.
One thing that can reduce the stress of waiting for the sale of the family home is to have a financial agreement in place so you know who will get what when the property does sell. Although you may have concerns about having to drop the sale price on the family home, a fair financial settlement can still be reached if you don’t agree to accept a fixed amount from the sale proceeds but instead you each agree to receive a percentage of the net proceeds of sale. That way you are both protected, whether house values move up or down.
In divorce proceedings a financial settlement can be reached by agreement or after financial settlement proceedings but in either scenario you should obtain a financial court order that records how all your assets will be divided, including the equity in the family home, savings, and pension provision.
If you are separated but don’t want to start divorce proceedings yet it is still best to record the financial settlement that you have agreed to avoid one of you changing your mind about how much you should get from the sale proceeds when you have found a buyer for the house. A document, called a separation agreement, should be prepared to formalise the agreement reached.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors
The team of specialist divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law can help you with your separation and divorce proceedings, as well as child custody and contact and your financial settlement. For advice on your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.
The Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
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: