For any couple separating after a period spent together, there are bound to be a large number of complex issues which need to be settled. For many couples, these will centre upon financial matters, such as the division of assets including income, pensions and the family home. In other cases the separation might lead to an application for a child arrangements order. Although the emotional aspects of any split can often cloud discussions, the best advice is always to try to settle such issues as amicably as possible, without recourse to court action.
Here at Higgins Miller we specialise in all aspects of family law and have wide ranging experience of dealing with divorce cases and other types of couple separation. The fact that we specialise in areas such as financial settlements, adoption and prenuptial and cohabitation agreements allows us to deal calmly and efficiently with all of the problems which cases such as these are likely to throw up. This is particularly true when there are children involved in the relationship. Our in-depth knowledge of child-maintenance law allows us to deliver advice which is focused upon being practical and effective, whilst the experience which every member of our team can boast means that this advice is delivered in a sympathetic and comforting manner. Although we concentrate on delivering advice which is legally correct, we never lose sight of the emotions involved, particularly where the well- being of children is concerned.
This is why we would always advise separated parents to come to an agreement regarding child arrangements as far as practical matters such as residence and holidays are concerned. Although it is possible to go to court and have a judge issue a child arrangements order, the need for this course of action often only becomes apparent at the very last minute, by which time it is too late for the actual court case to take place. Since the over-riding purpose of any child arrangements order is to create certainty for the parents involved and, even more so, for the child or children, the most sensible and effective course of action is always for the parties to get together and come to an arrangement between themselves, and Higgins Miller will do everything possible to make this happen.
Child arrangements orders were introduced in April 2014 and are designed to deal with two issues. These are the issue of whom the child will live with and who else they will have contact with, when that contact will take place and how the contact will be arranged. The orders were designed to replace the existing system of residence and contact orders and are generally necessary when the parents are unable to come to an agreement between themselves.
The fact of the matter, however, is that even if a court issues a child arrangements order the two parties have to co-operate with that order, and any failure to do so can lead to more stress, further problems and additional legal action. This is, by definition, more likely to be the case if one of the parties feels that the details of the child arrangements order are being imposed against their will, which is why an informal arrangement, arrived at via a process of mediation between the two parties, is more likely to prove successful.
In most cases of this kind the issue which a separating couple can reach an agreement on is that they want what is best for their children. This is invariably a workable set of arrangements which allows for activities such as taking a child on holiday without triggering a further set of arguments and recriminations. The sooner that such an arrangement can be reached, the better and, although Higgins Miller specialises in law, we always advise clients involved in cases such as these to reach a child arrangements order between themselves wherever possible.
If you have any questions about child arrangements orders or any other aspect of a separation, then email us at [email protected] or call us on 0161 429 7251. An initial 20-minute appraisal can be provided free of charge, while a fixed fee first appointment is just £50 (plus VAT). Although we’ll do our best to minimise costs, we’ll also explain the range of funding options which are available. For more on this, see here.