Child disputes can be hugely upsetting, which is why it’s vital that anybody involved in such a case seeks the very best legal advice. The temptation to act on emotion can be all but overwhelming, particularly if you’re concerned that the well-being or safety of a child might be at stake, but the wisest course of action is always to seek the counsel of a professional. Contrary to popular misconception, retaining the services of a solicitor, such as those offering expert help and advice at Higgins Miller, will actually minimise the chances of child disputes eventually leading to legal action. As our solicitors will always seek to offer advice which reduces stress, and secures the swiftest and most equable solution.
What is the process for establishing child care arrangements in the event of a divorce, separation or child disputes?
When a couple split up, making arrangements for any children can often be the most difficult part of the process. Although the well-being of any child is clearly the most important aspect it can sometimes be hard, in the midst of arguments about everything else from money to property and maintenance payments, to remain calm enough to reach an amicable arrangement. That’s where the expertise of our solicitors can come to the fore, as we’ve dealt with many cases of this nature over the years, and know precisely the process to follow in order to come to an arrangement that everyone can agree on.
In cases which involve domestic violence the process is different, revolving around offering protection from any victims of family abuse, generally via court orders. In the bulk of cases, however, the easiest path to take is for the two parties to sit down together and draw up a plan for caring for any child disputes which will include:
Where they will live?
How much time they will spend with each parent, and when?
Who will pay child maintenance to who, and how much?
Clearly, if you can reach agreement on details such as this on your own behalf then the process will be dealt with as quickly as possible, but the presence of a solicitor with expertise in the field of family law will often help to ensure that things run smoothly. In the first instance, they will be able to remove some of the emotion from the situation, and in addition to this they will have the expertise to be able to explain concepts such as ‘parental responsibility’ and Child Arrangement Orders, which were introduced as part of the Children and Families Act 2014.
If you cannot reach an agreement between yourselves, your solicitor will probably suggest and arrange mediation – discussing the issues with a neutral third party. Throughout the mediation process the solicitor will be there to assist with any information or advice needed. This will help you to concentrate on making the right decision for yourself and your children, secure in the knowledge you are receiving expert legal information and advice.
If mediation fails to bring about an agreement then the next step is to apply for a Court Order such as a Child Arrangement Order, which will set out:
Where the child lives?
When they will spend time with each parent?
The details of any other type of contact, such as telephone calls?
In some cases it may be necessary for an individual with parental responsibility to apply for a ‘specific issue order’, dealing with a detail such as a child’s schooling or religious upbringing.
In all cases it’s vital to be entirely clear of your rights and responsibilities at each stage of the process. To discuss any concerns you may have with our specialist solicitors please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. The good news is that an initial legal aid appraisal, either in person or over the phone, is provided free of charge for up to 20 minutes. Following this we offer a Fixed Fee First appointment for just £50 (plus VAT). This means you have an hour in our office to discuss the issues in your case, make plans going forward and receive a written summary of the meeting. For further information on the likely costs of legal action – and the funding options available – see our guide to Legal Aid here.