When parents go through a divorce, the welfare of the children is of primary concern to the Court. We at Garner & Hanock will advise the rights of the child and the responsibilities of being a parent during separation.
The subject of children and divorce is always an emotive one. When a family splits up it can be difficult for parents to agree on what is best for their children. Wherever possible, the courts prefer parents to make arrangements amicably between themselves and for children to continue to have regular and meaningful contact with both parents.
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Contact and Residence
The main question for most parents in a divorce with children is which parent they will live with. This used to be called “custody” but is now referred to as “Residence”.
It is usually assumed, by the court, that parenting will be shared and that the children will benefit from spending time with both parents, unless there is any reason to the contrary. For practical reasons, children will usually spend more time with one parent than the other. This is often their mother, although not always.
The court prefers parents to make their own decisions as to how much time children will spend with each of them wherever possible. If an amicable agreement cannot be reached, the next step is usually negotiation through solicitors then, if this fails, mediation.
The court requires couples to attempt mediation before it steps in, except in exceptional circumstances such as where there has been domestic violence.
A Parenting Plan
If you and your ex are able to agree on at least some parenting issues, you can put them into a written parenting plan. This will help clarify what issues you are able to agree on and ensure that they are clearly recorded for future reference and to avoid any misunderstanding.
If you need to ask a court to decide some issues for you, you can still present the parenting plan with the progress that you have made between you, and the judge will build on that.
The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) have more details about writing a parenting plan.
Grandparents Rights – Is shared parenting a myth or a reality?
Fair or not, accusations that the family courts are biased towards women are nothing new. Organisations like Fathers 4 Justice promote an idea that courts will necessarily side with the mother in a disputed residence or contact hearing.
Child Arrangements Order
A Child Arrangements Order can be put in place by the court to specify where and when children will live and spend time and what other contact they will have with their parents while they are not with them, such as phone, texts or emails. If you have been able to agree to this between you, it may be an option to have the court put it into an order so that you are both bound by its terms. (The Court will only make such an Order if it considers it necessary to do so.)
Orders can also be made in respect of specific issues, such as healthcare, religious upbringing and choice of school as well as to prevent a parent from carrying out a certain step, for example, taking a child out of the country.
In reaching its decision, the court will consider what it believes to be in children’s best interests. Their wishes and feelings will also be taken into account as well as their physical, emotional and educational needs and the possible impact of any change in circumstances.
Another concern is often financial provision for children. It is usually the case that a parent who does not have most of the day-to-day care responsibilities pays some money to the one who does.
Again, the best solution is often for you and your ex to come to an agreement between yourselves as to how much will be paid and by whom.
If agreement cannot be reached, then the Child Maintenance Service will calculate how much one parent should pay to the other. If one parent has a high income or lives abroad, seeking a court order for maintenance is an option.
Finding the right solutions for the children during and after divorce can be complicated and emotions often run high. At Garner & Hancock Solicitors we are experienced in negotiating solutions in difficult divorce situations and prioritising the interests of children.
Our family law solicitors will work to minimise the effect of divorce on children involved and ensure that your rights and interests are also protected. Please call us to discuss issues relating to a divorce or your children with an experienced family lawyer.
We believe our business begins and ends with you and your needs, as our client. Therefore, we are committed to providing the best client care and advice which will give you confidence that your matter is handled with the utmost care.
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