Children – Contact, Residence and Financial Maintenance
We have a team of Family Lawyers who have a wealth of experience dealing with issues relating to children following a divorce or separation.
Whether your problem relates to who the children will live with, what contact they will have with the other parent, or financial maintenance for the child, we can help. We also offer a free initial consultation to all new clients.
At all times, the interests of the children will be put above the interests of the parents. The legal system in England prefers voluntary agreements made between parents as it considers them more likely to be maintained successfully that court imposed ones. That said, the Courts will become involved where the parents are unable to reach an agreement.
It is generally accepted in the majority of cases that it is in the interests of children to have regular contact with both parents.
The arrangements for each family will be different, according to their circumstances, and may include such things as visits to see the child at home by the non resident parent, taking the child to the non resident parents home, overnight stays and holidays.
Ideally, arrangements will be worked out by negotiation between the parents, with the help of their lawyers. If a compromise cannot be reached then the Courts can impose a ‘contact order’ which specifies exactly what contact the non resident parent will have.
Child residence – Who the child will live with (Sometimes know as Child Custody)
The first criteria is for the child to have a stable and safe place to live.
The most common arrangement is for the child to live primarily with one parent and the other will have ‘contact’ at regular, pre-arranged intervals. Who the child lives with and where will be negotiated with the help of your solicitor.
A number of factors will influence this, including:
- whether one parent has historically undertaken more of the day to day care than the other parent
- the wishes and feelings of the child (considered in light of their age and understanding)
- the likely impact of any change on the child
- who is better placed to be able to meet the ongoing future needs of the children
It is becoming more common for parents to have shared residence of the children. For this to work it has to be practical for the children to move regularly between homes without it being too disruptive and unsettling for them.
It is the responsibility of all parents to financially support their children, even if they do not live with them or even have contact with them.
The amount of child maintenance can be negotiated by the parents with the help of their family lawyers, or it can be worked out using a set formula set out by the Child Support Agency (CSA).
Child maintenance is paid by the parent who is not resident with the child and it goes towards the living costs of the child.
The amount is worked out depending on how many nights the child spends at each parents home, in cases of shared residence.
For advice on any aspect of your child’s welfare following a divorce or separation, please contact us to speak to one of our experienced family lawyers.