Our work in the field of family law has given us keen insight into the stress and emotion often involved in the kind of cases we handle. Situations such as dealing with a will or probate, arranging a divorce or working through the adoption process can often take a great personal toll on those involved, and we see our task as delivering easily understood advice combined with sympathetic support. This is particularly the case where our work as child access solicitors is concerned.
As child access solicitors we deal with cases of divorce or dissolution of a relationship in which access to the children of that relationship will be an issue. In many such cases, this is the one aspect which causes the most turmoil and conflict. If arguments of this kind are allowed to get out of control they can often lead to communications breaking down and cases being dealt with by the courts. Wherever possible, we always try to guide our clients toward arriving at a negotiated agreement on an informal arrangement. As child access solicitors we’ve learned that this is not only the simplest and most affordable path to take, it is also a means of placing the well-being of the child at the centre of the process. Given the emotions involved, particular if the break-up is somewhat difficult, this can often be difficult for individuals to keep in mind, which is where our expert advice and experience comes into its’ own.
Most people, when considering the impact of a divorce on children, still think in terms of ‘custody’, but the fact of the matter is that, since the Children Act 1989, the term custody has been replaced with ‘Parental Responsibility’. In simple terms, both parents of a child still have parental responsibility after splitting up, and the parent the child doesn’t go to live with will still be expected to contribute financially to their upbringing. As child access solicitors our job is to guide our clients toward reaching an agreement on where the child will live for the bulk of the time, and how long they will spend with each of their parents. The factors which have to be borne in mind when reaching this decision include the location of each parents home in terms of proximity to the school the child attends, and whether these circumstances are likely to change in the immediate future. If one parent is due to relocate for employment purposes, for example, this would mean that living with them would leave the child in question open to suffering further disruption to their lives.
In most cases it will also be sensible to draw up a contract detailing the arrangements for the parent the child doesn’t live with to have contact with them in the future. This might mean arranging weekly or bi-weekly appointments, and also dealing with issues such as the school holidays, the Christmas break and any longer trips away either parent might wish to take the child on.
To provide reassurance for both parties, it may be necessary to have the agreement set down in writing, thus providing a record which can be referred to if there is any dispute in the future. In some cases, this plan can even be set down as a ‘consent order’, a legally binding contract which a court will recognise for a fee, as long as they feel that doing so is in the best interest of the child or children in question.
If you’d like to speak to our child access solicitors or learn more about how the process of divorce and parental responsibility works, then please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. We can undertake a 20 minute appraisal free of charge, and if you want to find out more we’ll provide a first appointment for a fixed fee, meaning you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to find out more about our charging system then please take a look here.