Q. How important are the needs of children when families experience difficulties?
When adult relationships break down there is often also an immediate, negative effect on their relationship with their children, which can be distressing for all parties. It is vital that a child’s connection with all of the important people in their life is protected, encouraged and kept free from unnecessary restrictions.
Q. Will children always spend equal time with both parents?
There is no automatic fifty-fifty sharing. The starting point is for a child to continue to have a relationship with both parents and their wider family ‒ as long as it is safe for them to do so. It is always best if the adults can agree the arrangements, but sometimes they find it too difficult or painful to do so. I always keep the best interests of the child at the heart of all the advice I give, whilst being supportive of the client and sensitive to their own needs.
Q. Do I have to have a lawyer?
You do not have to have legal advice. However, it is more likely that getting expert help as soon as possible when children are involved will mean a positive solution is reached much more quickly and with far less emotional distress. Lawyers can work as a bridge between the parties, encouraging a constructive dialogue in reaching a solution for you and your family whilst protecting you from unnecessary pressure and distress.
Q. Is it always necessary to go to court?
No. Wherever possible, I try to reach an amicable solution without making any application to court, as this is best for all concerned, especially the children. This includes giving initial advice to help you pursue your own discussions, advising you on other ways of resolving your problem, such as mediation and seeking to negotiate an agreed way forward for you.
Q. I have heard that even if there is an agreement about children, it is not legally binding?
We all hope that people will stick to any agreement they make in relation to arrangements regarding children, but sometimes people do not act as you would hope or anticipate, or circumstances change. As long as there is an agreement, we can help you make an application to the court to have that agreement recognised and approved in the form of an agreed consent order which must then be kept to by everyone.
Q. Can court cases be very expensive?
The cost of legal advice can be a concern. The Family Law Company has a policy to work with clients to ensure that costs are clearly structured and explained. We make clear what work we advise is necessary and what we are actually being asked to do. It is important to us, and to me personally, to proactively work with clients to carefully manage the costs of any case.
The Family Law Company offers a free initial appointment to discuss your case and the options available to you.