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Child Arrangement Orders – Your Questions Answered

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

Getting divorced and reaching a financial settlement can be hard, even where there are only two of you involved in reaching a financial settlement and securing a Financial Court Order. It can be even harder when family members have given or loaned money, with disputes over whether the money was a gift or a loan and how the loan should be treated in the divorce and financial settlement proceedings. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. The recent financial settlement Court case of P v Q (Financial Remedies) [2022] EWFC B9 (10 February 2022) has confirmed how the Courts should treat family loans in a divorce. The case emphasises the importance of extended family members taking legal advice if they intend the transfer of money to be a loan or want a gift to be ring-fenced in the case of separation or divorce. Family loans in financial settlement proceedings If a member of the extended family gives money to a husband or wife during their relationship then undoubtedly at the time of the gift or loan the money is very welcome. When a couple split up, family loans can complicate things where there is a dispute about: Whether the money was a gift or loan. Whether the gift was to the husband or wife or to the couple jointly. If the money was a loan, the repayment terms. If the money was a loan, whether the debt should be included as a debt in the asset schedule. If the money has been repaid to the extended family member because of the divorce, whether the money transferred to the relative should be added back into the asset schedule. Whether the extended family member should intervene in the financial settlement Court proceedings. Things can get very acrimonious when family money is in issue, with one party saying the money was a gift and the other a loan. Expert divorce and financial settlement solicitors say it is best to: Get help from an experienced divorce and financial settlement solicitor. They will give you an unbiased view on whether the family Court will say the money is a gift or a loan. Whilst you may not like their opinion about the treatment of the family money, you don’t want to waste time or money on an argument that you are not likely to win. Look at the cost of arguing whether the family money was a gift or loan as you don’t want to spend more in legal costs arguing the point if the costs will be more than the amount to be gained in your likely financial settlement. [related_posts] The case of P v Q (Financial Remedies) [2022] EWFC B9 The case of P v Q involved an international family based in the UK and Germany. The wife was German, living in England. The husband was English, living in Germany with the couple’s two children. The case had many unusual points, including the value and liquidity of company shares, particularly as the case was heard at a time when Russian forces were massing at the Ukraine border and there were expectations of share price volatility because the shares were held in an energy company. Divorce and financial settlement proceedings were started in the UK. The wife said the husband had given his mother £150,000 to reduce the amount the wife would receive as a financial settlement. The husband said he had given his mother the £150,000 to repay a loan and that the money should not be added back into the asset schedule. The judge acknowledged he had to consider the factors set out in Section 25 and Section 25A Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 together with any relevant case law when deciding how to split the assets and how to treat the family loan money. Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 broadly says it is the duty of the Court when making a Financial Court Order to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen. Amongst other things, and of particular relevance to family money and loans, the Court should have particular regard to: The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the Court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. In the case of P and Q , the husband’s mother gave each of her three children the sum of £150,000 to help them with housing. No loan documentation was drawn up. There was no evidence that the husband's mother had gifted the money as part of an estate planning strategy. No demand was ever made for repayment of the £150,000 and there was no discussion about the circumstances when repayment was required. In evidence the mother said she hoped the family would repay the money to her if she was in need. The husband repaid the £150,000 to his mother without his mother asking for the money. The wife argued the transfer was a device to remove £150,000 from the asset schedule so she lost out, using the sharing principle of a 50:50 split, of £75,000. The judge had to consider if the £150,000 (and other family monies) were gifts or loans. The judge held that for money to amount to a gift there must be an intention to give away – with no expectation of repayment. Accordingly, the £150,000 was a loan. The arguments didn’t stop there as the judge, using case law, then had to go on to consider the nature of the hard or soft loan to determine if the £150,000 should be added back into the asset schedule. When looking at the treatment of loans in financial settlement proceedings, the judge said the family Court needs to consider: If a judge concludes there is a contractually binding obligation by a party to the marriage towards a third party, the Court should then consider whether the obligation is a hard obligation debt or a soft debt. There is no set test to decide if a loan amounts to a hard or soft debt. A common feature of family loan analysis in financial settlement proceedings is to consider if the obligation to repay will be enforced. Factors pointing to a hard loan include that the terms of the obligation feel like a normal commercial arrangement, there is a written loan agreement and a written demand for payment, a threat of litigation or intervention in the financial settlement proceedings, there hasn’t been a delay in enforcing the debt and the amount of money owed is such that it would be less likely for a creditor to waive the obligation to pay. Factors pointing to a soft loan include that the debt is owed to a friend or family member who remains on good terms, the loan is informal without a commercial arrangement feel to the loan, there has been no written demand for payment despite the loan repayment date having passed, there has been a delay in enforcing repayment, and the amount of the money is such that it would be more likely for the creditor to be likely to waive the obligation to repay. Using these principles and looking at the facts of the husband's loan from his mother, the judge concluded the loan fell into the ‘soft’ category of loan. For the financial settlement, that meant the loan monies were added back into the asset schedule, thus increasing the amount to be shared between the husband and wife by £150,000. Divorce and private client considerations when making or receiving family loans If you are thinking about making a gift or loan to a family member, it is sensible to take private client advice to try to ensure your gift is either tax efficient for inheritance tax purposes or ring fenced and protected in case of divorce through the use of a loan document, preferably combined with a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Apr 14, 2022   ·   8 minute read
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Talking to a Family Lawyer

We all fear some appointments, whether it is an appointment with a doctor or dentist, or meeting your family lawyer for the first time. In this blog, family law solicitor, Louise Halford, looks at how to get the most out of your first meeting with your family lawyer. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Choosing your family law solicitor Timing your appointment Company at your appointment Preparing for your appointment Talking to your family solicitor Choosing your family law solicitor Before your initial consultation with your family law solicitor, it is best to do some research on whether your family lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you. Just because a friend found a family solicitor wonderful in their divorce, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be right for you, or that they are experts in the area of family law you need advice on. At Evolve Family Law, we believe in being proactive in helping you choose the right family solicitor for you. That’s why we publish information about the lawyers and our fee guide on our website. We will also speak to you to try and make sure there you are seeing the best solicitor for you at your initial consultation. That’s because family lawyers, just like consultants and surgeons, specialise in different areas of family law. If you need urgent advice about child abduction fears and child relocation orders you don’t want to see a solicitor who has a particular interest in international prenuptial agreements when the firm has expert children law and child abduction lawyers. Timing your appointment It is never too early to have an initial consultation. It can be helpful for you to learn about likely children or financial settlement options should you go ahead with a planned separation. That way you can make informed choices. Taking family law legal advice does not commit you to starting children law or financial court proceedings but it does help you work out the best options for you, through having the information you need to make informed decisions. [related_posts] Company at your appointment If you want to bring a friend or a family member to your appointment that should be fine with your family solicitor. Bringing someone with you can be really helpful as they can make sure that you are asking the questions you want answers to. They can also discuss the advice you received with you after the meeting. All family solicitors ask of you is; to choose the person who comes with you with care. That is because you may be discussing personal issues at your appointment. Your solicitor will not want you to feel inhibited and unable to be totally open about the reasons why you need help and legal advice. Also, a family friend or relative needs to be there as a support, rather than to take over the appointment to discuss their own family law problems or their own views on your relationship or family law issue. If they do that, it is frustrating for both you and your family lawyer solicitor as we both need to focus on you. Therefore, if you want company at your appointment, think about who will provide the best support to help you to get the most out of your consultation. Preparing for your appointment Whilst you are welcome to just turn up to your phone, zoom or office appointment, it can help some people to prepare for the appointment. We don’t mean anything ‘too heavy’ by this. Just have a think about why you need advice and the background. For example, your family solicitor may want to know the date of your marriage or date of separation or when your children were born or the approximate date of when an incident occurred . It is surprising how easy it is to forget dates or to only remember the questions you wanted to ask your solicitor after your consultation. Lawyers like questions, so do bring a list of questions with you. Whilst a family lawyer may not be able to fully answer all your questions at a first meeting, they will be able to tell you what information they need to gather to fully answer your queries. Talking to your family solicitor An initial consultation with a family solicitor is a ‘two-way street’; your family lawyer needs to know a bit about you and about your family law query as well as your goals. Armed with that information a family solicitor can help you get the best out of an initial consultation. Consultations work best when you have the confidence to ask your questions. You therefore should not worry about whether your questions are too basic or whether your solicitor will think you should know the answers. Likewise, your lawyer may need to ask you some questions that you don’t think are very relevant to your family solicitor answering your questions. However, there are some questions that will help your lawyer understand the circumstances so your legal advisor can then work out how best to answer your questions as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Mar 17, 2022   ·   5 minute read
No-Fault Divorce

No-Fault Divorce

Divorce solicitors have campaigned for years for divorce law reform and it is finally happening. Whilst that is great news, in this article we take a look at what the reforms mean and whether you should wait to apply for a no-fault divorce and the potential benefits of not waiting when you can apply for a divorce now. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article, divorce and financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot answers your questions on your divorce options and the importance of getting the timing of your divorce right. Your divorce questions answered on: What is no-fault divorce? When is divorce law changing? Can you get a no-fault divorce now? Do the ground for your divorce matter? Should you wait for divorce law change or divorce now? What is no-fault divorce? No-fault divorce is when you get a divorce without having to blame your husband or wife for the marriage breakdown in the divorce petition. It is possible to get a no-fault divorce now, but no-fault divorce will become the norm when the law changes. Even if you do not have the grounds to get a no-fault divorce now, you may be able to divorce amicably and quickly without having to wait for the no-fault divorce law to come into force. The timing of your divorce can have long term financial and other implications for you, so it is best to talk to a divorce solicitor about when to start divorce proceedings. When is divorce law changing? The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reforms divorce law in England and Wales with the introduction of no-fault divorce. Couples will be able to apply for a no-fault divorce under the new law from the 6th April 2022. However, if you don’t want to wait for the change in divorce law, you may be able to get a no-fault divorce now or get divorced amicably. Can you get a no-fault divorce now? Under current divorce law you have to file a petition for divorce that says your marriage has irretrievably broken down and cite one of five facts. Two of those facts can give you a no-fault divorce now. They are: Separation for two years or more and your husband or wife agrees to a divorce or Separation for five years or more, in which case you don’t need your husband or wife's consent to the divorce. There are three points to make about divorce based on separation: You do not need to have lived in a separate house to your husband or wife for the two or five years provided that you have lived separate and apart in the same household. A divorce solicitor can explain what this means and if this fits with your circumstances. Even if you have not been separated for long enough to get a divorce using the current divorce law on separation, you can still reach an agreement about your future divorce by signing a separation agreement and parenting plan. This will make things easier for you when you do start divorce. proceedings and you can start to implement your financial settlement now. For example, by arranging for the family home to go on the market for sale or starting the ball rolling with getting the house and mortgage transferred from joint names to one name. If you have not been separated for long enough to get a divorce using the current law on separation and divorce, you can probably still get an amicable divorce without having to go to court to get your decree absolute. [related_posts] Do the grounds for your divorce matter? If you want to get divorced now, and you have not been separated from your husband or wife for at least two years, you can still start divorce proceedings now if your marriage has irretrievably broken down and your husband or wife has: Committed adultery or Behaved unreasonably or Deserted you. There are six points to make about ‘fault divorce’: You do not need to name a third party in the divorce proceedings based on adultery. A divorce on one of these three reasons takes the same time for the divorce court to process the divorce as a divorce based on separation. Divorce solicitors can normally agree the allegations of unreasonable behaviour so they don’t cause upset to your husband or wife. You will not have to go to a court hearing for your divorce if your husband or wife agrees to the divorce. The fact that you have started divorce proceedings using adultery or unreasonable behaviour or desertion will not affect the financial settlement or the children arrangements. There may be reasons why it is best, in your circumstances, to get divorced now rather than wait. A divorce solicitor can explore why it may be better for you to get divorced straight away rather than wait until after the 6 April 2022. Should you wait for divorce law change or divorce now? There are many reasons why it may be in your best interests to start divorce proceedings now rather than wait. Every family situation is different so speak to a divorce solicitor about what is best for you in your individual circumstances. Some reasons why it may be best to start divorce proceedings now are: Emotionally you can't wait and you want to get on with your divorce. Your husband or wife doesn’t mind unreasonable behaviour or adultery divorce proceedings being started as they know the divorce petition is a ‘means to an end’ and they can't see a reason to wait. Your children feel as if they are in limbo or think that you and your spouse will get back together as you are not getting divorced straight away. Your husband or wife won't agree to the sale of the family home or other assets and you can only apply for a financial court order if there is a divorce petition filed at court. You want to remarry as soon as possible because you are expecting a child with your new partner or your new partner is in poor health. The tax consequences of divorce and financial settlements mean that in your financial circumstances it is better not to wait until the new tax year. You are in an abusive relationship. You are in need of urgent financial support and spousal maintenance as your husband or wife won't pay towards the mortgage or household bills. You fear child abduction or have other urgent children law related worries. You think that you husband or wife will sell or transfer assets to their family or friends to try to reduce your financial settlement by continuing to hide assets or syphon money. You are concerned that your husband or wife could start divorce proceedings in another country and the financial settlement that you would receive from a court in the other country would not be fair or meet your needs. There are special considerations if your family has overseas connections and you need international divorce You are worried about the consequences of delay as your husband or wife is running up debts and you fear they may be made the subject of a bankruptcy petition. You husband or wife is due to get their cash free lump sum pension payment and you are concerned that they will not preserve the money so you won't get a fair financial settlement. There are special considerations for divorce in retirement. There are many other reasons why you may want to divorce now. Our divorce solicitors will talk to you about your family and financial circumstances and work out which approach is best for you. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Mar 10, 2022   ·   7 minute read
shareholders agreement

Shareholder Disputes and Divorce

It’s bad enough to separate or divorce but even harder to going through a shareholder dispute as well. Northwest divorce financial settlement solicitors recognise that if you are in business with your husband or wife you may be facing a shareholder dispute in addition to court proceedings over your family law financial settlement. In this article, divorce and financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot answers your questions on shareholder disputes with your former partner when you are going through divorce proceedings and trying to reach a financial agreement over how your family assets are divided. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Your divorce shareholder dispute questions answered on: Are business assets relevant to divorce proceedings? What happens when spouses are shareholders in a family business? Can a divorced couple agree to continue in business together? Can I ringfence business assets so they aren’t relevant to divorce proceedings? Role of a shareholder agreement in divorce proceedings Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or divorce proceedings Are business assets relevant to divorce proceedings? Business assets are potentially relevant to divorce proceedings and will need to be disclosed as part of your financial disclosure. That’s the case whatever the length of your marriage. However, when the family court makes a financial court order the family law judge will take a range of factors into account, including your respective needs, the length of your marriage and whether you owned the family business before your marriage. The weight given to these and other factors will depend on your personal and financial circumstances. Business assets are relevant to divorce proceedings if you are a shareholder or a partner in a business or sole trader. The fact that your husband or wife or civil partner has played no role in the business doesn’t mean that the family court won't say that your business is a family asset. Even if the court concludes your business isn’t a family asset, in the divorce proceedings a court can still use the value of a non-family asset in the financial settlement where there is a need to share non-family assets to meet needs. It’s best to not get too tied up into arguing over whether your business is a family asset or not and instead take get some expert help on the likely overall financial settlement and on how the impact of the financial settlement on the business can be minimised. What happens when spouses are shareholders in a family business? If you and your husband or wife are both shareholders in a family business then you need to make sure both corporate and family law is followed. Divorce financial settlement solicitors say family law trumps company or corporate law because even if company law says your husband or wife owns fifty percent of the business, in the divorce financial settlement proceedings the family court has the power to order the sale or transfer of shares. If you are getting divorced and you are in business together it can be particularly tough when you both work in the same environment. It’s best to try and keep business and private stuff separate, if you can, so the business isn’t affected by your separation as it’s unlikely to be in either of your interests for the business to suffer because you are struggling to work together until a financial settlement is reached. If you can't work together, even on a temporary basis, then you need to look at whether one of you working from home or other strategies can help you both remain in the business whilst you sort out the divorce financial settlement. [related_posts] Can a divorced couple agree to continue in business together? A divorcing couple can decide to remain in business together after their divorce. A financial court order should set out post-divorce ownership of the business and a shareholder agreement should be drawn up so there is agreed procedure on important points, such as dividend policies or share voting rights. Can I ringfence business assets so they aren’t relevant to divorce proceedings? You can try to ringfence your business assets so they aren’t relevant to the divorce proceedings by either signing a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. The weight given to this type of agreement will depend on a variety of factors, including whether there was financial disclosure as part of the prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement process. Role of a shareholder agreement in divorce proceedings The fact that you have a shareholder agreement that says your husband or wife must transfer their shares to you for one pound if you separate or divorce doesn’t mean that your spouse won't get a fair financial settlement or even a share in the value of the business assets. However, it is still sensible to have a shareholder agreement but it’s important to understand it won't totally protect you from business related financial claims on divorce. Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or divorce proceedings Valuing a business in a shareholder dispute or financial settlement divorce proceedings normally involves a valuation by a forensic accountant so there is an accurate assessment of the share value, the net value after tax, and the potential income stream if you continue to hold shares in the business. The fact that a family court orders a valuation doesn’t mean that the court will order that the shares are sold but the court will want to know the net value of the shares so the court has an idea of the total extent of the family assets and any non-family assets. The court can then use that information to make a financial court order, after having weighed up all the statutory factors to reach what the court considers is a fair financial settlement. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Mar 03, 2022   ·   6 minute read
Save money for home cost

Can I Change Spousal Maintenance Payments?

The news is all about the cost-of-living crisis. North west divorce financial settlement solicitors are getting calls about spousal maintenance and whether spousal maintenance payments can go up to cover increased household bills. Those paying spousal maintenance are equally worried about how they can pay their increased bills and still meet their spousal maintenance payments. In this article our divorce financial settlement solicitors answer your questions: Can spousal maintenance be changed? What triggers a change in spousal maintenance? Cost of living crisis and spousal maintenance Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance? Agreeing a change in spousal maintenance Applying to court for a change in spousal maintenance For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form Can spousal maintenance be changed? Spousal maintenance can be changed. It can go up or down or be stopped altogether. The change to spousal maintenance can be made by agreement or the court can vary the spousal maintenance payments. If you are also paying or receiving child support then the spousal maintenance can be changed independently of the child support payments. Child support is normally paid by agreement or after an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service. Spousal maintenance is usually payable by agreement or under a family court order. Spousal maintenance and child maintenance are calculated in different ways. If you are worried about how an increase or decrease in spousal maintenance could affect your child support it is best to talk to your family law solicitor. What triggers a change in spousal maintenance? A variation in spousal maintenance can be triggered by many different changes in your personal or financial  circumstances or those of your former husband, wife, or civil partner. Changes that can trigger a need to review spousal maintenance payments are: The payer or receiver loses their job and can't get another one. A business goes bust or there is a downturn resulting in reduced business profits and less income for the company directors. The re-marriage of the person receiving the spousal maintenance (this automatically stops the spousal maintenance payments). The cohabitation of the person getting the spousal maintenance ( the spousal maintenance court order could say maintenance should stop if the person receiving the spousal maintenance starts a cohabiting relationship and they live with their partner for a specified period, such as six months. In other spousal maintenance orders a new relationship involving cohabitation may not be a trigger for the automatic cessation of spousal maintenance but may justify a variation application). Increased outgoings that are reasonable in nature to incur. For example, the decision to lease a new luxury car may not thought to be reasonable increased outgoings but larger bills on the mortgage or the gas or electricity may be reasonable in nature to incur as you can't be blamed for the price hikes that are outside your control. [related_posts] Cost of living crisis and spousal maintenance The cost-of-living crisis is generating lots of questions about spousal maintenance and financial settlement options. If you are negotiating a financial settlement, it’s important to remember that spousal maintenance can go up or down or that you can negotiate a clean break financial settlement so there is no further financial liability towards your former husband or wife. A Northwest divorce financial settlement solicitor can look at the best financial settlement options for your personal and financial circumstances and can weigh up the potential cost of capitalising spousal maintenance payments at the time of the financial settlement (paying spousal maintenance in one lump sum so your former spouse gets more assets but no ongoing spousal maintenance) or the risks of agreeing to spousal maintenance and variation applications to increase the payment if cost of living rises are beyond inflationary increases. Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance? ‘Do bigger bills mean more spousal maintenance?’ Not necessarily. That’s because one of the issues is whether the person seeking the variation in spousal maintenance has looked at the ability of their former spouse to pay more or receive less in spousal maintenance if they too are facing higher outgoings and haven’t received a higher than inflation pay rise and have no ‘spare’ or surplus income. Every spousal maintenance question must be considered carefully as each depends on the financial and personal circumstances.  Agreeing a change in spousal maintenance You can agree a change in spousal maintenance in several different ways: By agreement or Using solicitor negotiations or Through family mediation or An application to court to vary spousal maintenance. If you agree how spousal maintenance will be changed outside the court process it’s important to record your agreement in writing and to secure a financial court order or apply to court, by agreement, to change the wording of your existing spousal maintenance order. Applying to court for a change in spousal maintenance You can apply to court to increase, decrease, or stop spousal maintenance payments. It’s best to talk to financial settlement solicitors before making an application as they can advise on your likely prospects of success or whether it is best to try and negotiate without first making an application to court. An application to the family court to vary spousal maintenance follows a similar court procedure to an application for a financial settlement in that the variation application involves financial disclosure and a series of court hearings to help you either reach an agreement or for the court to determine if the spousal maintenance payments should be varied. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form
Robin Charrot
Feb 03, 2022   ·   5 minute read
Mother Having Serious Conversation With Teenage Daughter At Home

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

After a separation or divorce many parents want to stop their child from seeing the other parent. Sometimes those feelings are fleeting as a reaction to a parent turning up late for contact or because of an argument. In other families, one parent may believe that it in their child’s best interests to not have contact with the other parent. In this blog children law expert, Louise Halford, looks at whether a parent can stop a child from seeing the other parent after parental separation or divorce.Family and children law solicitors  For legal help and advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and contact orders call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.​Stopping contact between child and parent If you are thinking about stopping contact between your child and their other parent then it is best to take legal advice before stopping contact. If there is an existing child arrangement order in place you may be in breach of the court order if you stop contact without first applying to court to vary the child arrangement order to stop the contact. If there is no child arrangement order in force it is still best to get expert legal advice on your options. That is because if you stop contact your ex-partner may apply to court for a child arrangement order and, depending on the current level of contact and the reasons why you want to stop contact, they may even end up with more contact with your child. Should you stop contact between a child and the other parent? There are some scenarios when it is best for the child to stop contact. For example, if you fear child abduction and your child being taken out of the UK without your agreement or you are worried that the other parent is not able to care for the children during contact and doesn’t have the insight into their mental health issues or the extended family support to make contact safe for your child. However, there are other scenarios where it isn’t necessarily in your child’s best interests to stop contact even though the cessation of contact would make life a lot easier for you as you would not have to be in contact with your ex-partner over the contact arrangements.  There are many situations where one parent often wants to stop a child having contact with the other parent, such as: The other parent has not paid child support or spousal maintenance. The other parent has met a new partner and you feel angry or hurt about it. The other parent gives you a lot of hassle and grief over the contact arrangements and you feel they are trying to control you through the communication that they have with you over childcare. You are worried that your ex-partner will be violent towards you at either collection or drop off time. The other parent is always late collecting the child or returning the child. The child does not do any homework whilst with the other parent and always returns tired after a contact weekend meaning that the child finds it hard to settle back into their routine and concentrate on their school work. The other parent won't follow the same parenting routine as you so you are seen as the disciplinarian and no fun. The child comes back from contact saying things about you that they have heard from the other parent. The child says they don’t want to see the other parent because contact is boring and they want to see their friends. The child doesn’t like the other parent’s new partner or their children. All of the above are very valid concerns that need legal advice and discussion with an expert children law solicitor but should not necessarily result in all contact stopping between your child and the other parent. What happens if I stop contact between my child and the other parent? If you stop contact between your child and the other parent then the other parent could:   Apply to court to enforce an existing child arrangement order. Apply to court for a child arrangement order. Still turn up to see the child, for example, collecting the child from school. Not have contact and walk away – the child may not want this and therefore the child may be angry and hurt with you. In addition, the child may think of their other parent in an idealised fashion and as they are no longer having contact with the other parent the child forgets that the other parent was late in collecting them or did nothing with them during the contact visit other than watch television. It can help to discuss the likely outcome of an application for a child arrangement order by the other parent or an application by you for a children order, such as a prohibited steps order. That’s because it is best to understand the approach the family court will take to stopping contact and how they will weigh up what the judge thinks is in your child’s best interests. A children law solicitor can also discuss alternate options, such as: Family mediation to help you explain to your ex-partner your concerns about contact. Protective orders, such as domestic violence injunction orders if your ex-partner is harassing you, or you fear child abduction. Round table meeting with children law solicitors to discuss your concerns and reach a resolution. For example, agreeing a parenting plan with consistent parenting routines for the child or agreeing to supervised contact whilst your ex-partner is experiencing a period of mental ill-health. Family therapy that can involve an older child so they can explain how they feel about contact. Therefore, whilst it is tempting to stop contact between your child and their other parent it is normally best to take some time to reflect and to consider the consequences of the decision.Family and children law solicitors  For expert legal advice on stopping a child from seeing the other parent and applying for or opposing a child arrangement order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Jul 08, 2021   ·   6 minute read
When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

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

How Much Child Maintenance Should I Pay?

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