Tag Archive: Child Custody

  1. Child Arrangement Issues Explained

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    The breakdown of a relationship is always a difficult experience, particularly when there are children to think about. You only want what’s best for them, but amidst the fallout, wires can become crossed and it’s not always the case that both parents see eye to eye.

    At DRN, we have a dedicated team of experts in family and children matters, who have set out some advice below for those struggling with child arrangements.

     

    What are child arrangements?

    Child arrangements were previously referred to by the courts as “contact arrangements”. When a relationship breaks down, the parents involved will need to reach an agreement on the arrangements for their child, including which parent the child will live with and how often the other parent will spend time with the child.

    ‘Direct arrangements’ between a parent and child refers to any time spent face-to-face, and can include during the daytime or overnight.

    ‘Indirect arrangements’ is the term used for any occurrences where the parent might keep in touch with the child without physically visiting them. This can include engaging in telephone conversations, email or written letter exchanges or the sending of gifts.

     

    Who is entitled to spend time with a child?

    Contrary to popular belief, having parental responsibility and/or being named on a child’s birth certificate does not give an automatic right to spend time with a child. Any arrangements should be agreed on the terms of what is best for the child, not the parent, or any other person.

    In cases of separation, the parent the child lives with can usually make arrangements for time which the other parent should spend time with their child. Any arrangements should usually only be restricted in instances where it is felt necessary to safeguard the child.

    Agreements can be outlined for any person who maintains a close relationship with the child, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and close friends.

    In most cases, both parents are able to reach an amicable agreement and arrange time on terms which suit both parties. However, if this is not the case, it may become necessary to seek legal advice, and the expert solicitors at DRN can help.

     

    What if my child is not picked up or brought home on time?

    Both parents should try to stick to the agreed times for pick-up and drop-off to the best of their ability, although some understanding on either part should be given for delays caused by public transport, traffic or emergency.

     

    The parent of my child has not made a maintenance payment – are they still entitled to contact?

    Issues relating to child maintenance and issues related to child arrangements are seen as entirely separate from one another in the eyes of the law. For this reason, you will not be justified in refusing the non-resident parent time with their child on the basis that they have not paid maintenance for the child.

     

    I need further advice – what should I do next?

    With an understanding of all policies and procedures involved, your DRN solicitor will be able to provide sound advice and guidance throughout the process of settling your child arrangement issues, along with expert legal representation and an entirely confidential and reliable service. Get in touch today for more information about our services and find out how we can help you to achieve a favourable outcome.

  2. DRN Family Law Team Awarded Legal Aid ‘Excellence’ Review Rating

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    DRN’s leading Family Law team have achieved an Excellence review rating following an independent external review of their work by the Legal Aid Agency.

    Legal Aid Agency Audit

    “Excellence” is the number one rating that can be achieved by a legal team during a Legal Aid Agency audit. The full list of ratings is as follows:

    • excellence (1)
    • competence plus (2)
    • threshold competence (3)
    • below competence (4)
    • failure in performance (5)

    The Process

    To gain this exemplary rating, 25 files from DRN were requested by the Legal Aid Agency. These files were chosen at random, and were then independently reviewed by an external assessor. Their comprehensive report concluded with positive findings in all areas, including:

    • Advice tailored to clients
    • Linked advice and client referrals
    • Proactive steps taken on behalf of clients
    • Client’s needs being met
    • Keeping clients up to date with developments

    All of the above findings were met with a glowing report, as well as a host of additional positive findings.

    Family Law Team

    Nicola Barrow, head of the Family department at DRN said:

    “I am incredibly proud of the continuous hard work from the Family Team at DRN, who dedicate themselves to ensuring client’s receive the best advice and representation possible every single day.”

    DRN’s leading family law team are available to support you with legal advice and representation in all matters concerning family matters, including custody, adoption, name changing, divorce and separation.

    If you would like to talk to a member of our friendly team, call our Burnley office today on 01282 433 241 and we will be happy to help you.

  3. How To Make Arrangements For Your Children (Formerly Child Custody Arrangements)

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    Staying together isn’t possible for every family. Even though it’s a difficult situation, sometimes separating is necessary in order for everyone to live happily, sometimes parents have never lived together.

    At DRN, our clients are often separated parents and want to do the right thing by their children, and our family solicitors are trained to give advice on child arrangements that is practical and straightforward. Our guidance comes from years of experience in family law, and our family solicitors work sensitively with separated families and their children to make sure the best possible agreement is reached.

    To agree, whether in person or through a mediator, on the arrangements for your child can seem an impossible task, but we are here to help.

    The Courts and family solicitors now refer to what used to be known as “child custody” as “child arrangements”. These arrangements are a broad description of how your child spends their time with you and the rest of their family.

    What are Child Arrangements?

    The details for where the children live, and if not living with both parents, also setting out the time they spend with the other parent (which is often referred to as contact.)

    Children can enjoy spending time with a parent in person, by telephone, social media, letter or any other method which is reasonable and allows the child and parent to stay in ‘contact’.

    Each child and family will have different needs depending on their own circumstances, including but not limited to the children’s ages, needs, wishes and feelings.

    Contact can take place in different forms and will vary with each family. Contact can be for short periods of time for example during the day, or cover long periods of time over a number of days and possibly weeks. It can take place in a variety of venues. A lot of children do stay overnight with the parent with whom they do not ‘live’ on a regular basis.

    Agreeing child arrangements

    A lot of separated parents are able to reach a mutual agreement about the arrangements for their child and are able to vary the arrangements as the child’s needs change. Other parents cannot for various reasons and do need specialist advice and assistance.

    If you would like help in reaching suitable arrangements for your child, then our family solicitors can help. Our solicitors can advise you on the most appropriate method to try to achieve an outcome.

    This may be by way of one of our solicitors negotiating on your behalf, setting out your position and the reasons why, if an agreement is reached by drafting an agreement setting out the arrangements which are to be put in place.

    Legal aid is available, but only in limited circumstances.

    Mediation

    You may be advised to attempt mediation with a view to resolving any disagreements. Family mediators are trained professionals, who help you discuss any issues, let you both have your say and try to help reach an agreement. Mediation can work, even where the parties initially have very differing views.

    Mediation is not appropriate in situations where there has been any form of domestic abuse.

    The mediator will assess whether the case is suitable for mediation.

    Legal aid is available to assist with the costs of mediation where one or both parties are on a low income.

    Applying to the court

    If solicitor negotiation and mediation are not successful or are unsuitable then an application to court may be necessary. Court applications should only be made when all other options are unsuitable or have failed. Court proceedings can take time and be costly, and you may end up in a situation where the court has made a decision that you do not want.

    The court whether a bench of magistrates or judge will encourage you to reach an agreement, if you cannot agree then the court will determine what if any evidence is required and how the case will proceed. The court will then make a decision about what the arrangements for your child should be to live with and spend time with you and the other parent. In deciding the arrangements, the court will decide what they believe the best interests of your child to be.

    If you would like any advice or assistance on arrangements for your child then please contact one of our family solicitors at DRN on 01282 433241 or enquiries@drnlaw.co.uk 

  4. How to Arrange Child Contact and Custody this Christmas

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    Christmas is a time for family get-togethers, fun, laughter and creating happy memories. Arranging contact with your children at this festive time of year is, of course, your number one priority. It can seem a difficult or daunting process, but there is plenty you can do to arrange custody of your child or children over Christmas and New Year, and the DRN team are here to help and advise you.

    Despite what you may have heard, there is no legal provision for Christmas contact arrangements, and both parents are advised to come to an agreement between themselves. Courts will only intervene when this has proved fruitless – particularly in cases where communication has broken down.

    It’s important to remember that the Courts are usually only concerned with emergencies over Christmas, and the number of Christmas contact cases brought forward are often overwhelming for the Courts to deal with in a timely fashion. Unless there is an urgent issue about the safety of a child, the Courts will generally not become involved in new cases about a child’s arrangements during the Christmas period.

    In order to resolve your Christmas contact or custody arrangements, the quickest and most efficient way is to come to an agreement with your estranged partner. To help, here are the DRN family law team’s top tips for arranging Christmas contact, with a focus on the welfare and happiness of your children.

     

    Ask Your Children What They Would Like To Do This Christmas

    A study by Simpson Millar in 2014 revealed that just 13% of parents include their child or children in the decision-making process when deciding who should have custody over Christmas.

    If your child is old enough, try speaking with them about their wishes. Knowing what your child or children want this Christmas and New Year will help you to discuss arrangements calmly, and work out a plan that puts them first. For your own sake, knowing their wishes also helps to alleviate any fears you might have, and mediate any arguments that might arise.

     

    Agree on Ground-Rules While You Plan Christmas Contact

    One of the main causes of disagreements between separated parents over the Christmas holidays relates to routines being changed, and a sense of “competition” being instated.

    It’s understandable that you will want to treat your children to everything they want this Christmas. Being seen to be “one upping” the other parent, on the other hand, can cause animosity, and can cause problems for your child once the festive season is over.

    If you can discuss the care of your child together, alone or with a mediator, so much the better. Talk through rules to stick to and you’ll save a lot of future aggravation.

    Things to consider setting ground-rules on during the Christmas period:

    • Bedtimes and curfews
    • Limiting certain foods – especially sweets, fast food and sugary drinks
    • Internet usage
    • Upper limit to present costs

     

    Decide Christmas Plans Early

    While it might still feel too early to discuss Christmas, planning your child’s care and custody over the Christmas period is better off planned well in advance. As well as putting your mind at ease that everything is agreed, your child or children will feel better knowing that there is a secure plan in place. That way, everyone can concentrate on looking forward to Christmas.

     

    Try to Relax No Matter The Outcome

    There is a possibility that your child may want to spend Christmas with their other parent, or that it’s your ex-partner’s turn to host Christmas with their family.

    While this can seem like the worst case scenario, particularly if you no longer have a working amicable relationship with your child’s other parent, it doesn’t have to be a terrible outcome. The truth is, if you are in the position to discuss having your child stay with your ex, it is highly unlikely that they will allow your child to come to any harm. It’s also worth remembering that spending a short time with people you don’t like will not leave your child with any lasting ill effects.

    Trying to control what happens during their time away will cause you to stress and this in turn will upset your children. Instead, focus on planning a second Christmas for them to spend with you and your family, and show them how much you love them before and after their visit.

    Remember: this is about your child and what’s best for them.

     

    Present a United Front

    Whether you secured custody during Christmas or not this year, it is very important to present a united front to your children no matter what.

    Your children look up to both of you as role models, and seeing you upset with each other will affect how much they enjoy Christmas. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to make it seem like the pair of you came to the agreement together based on what’s best for your child. This way, they’ll feel included in the decision and believe that both of you have their best interests at heart.

    Christmas as a separated family can be tough, but by communicating you can reduce the stress and make sure everyone enjoys Christmas. For more information about our Family Law Team and how we can help with your particular custody case, please visit our Children Matters page or call us on 01282 433 241 to speak to an expert today.

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