Often one of the hardest issues to deal with during the breakdown of a relationship is the arrangements relating to any children. Who they will live with and the contact they will have with the other parent and what financial arrangements are needed can be very difficult to determine and can raise a lot of questions and concerns for the parties concerned.
Our expert family lawyers have a wealth of experience in this area and can guide and advise you to ensure that the best arrangements are put in place. We realise that this can be a very emotional time and our sympathetic team can help support you through the entire process.
Parents remain legally responsible for financially supporting their children's upbringing, even after a relationship ends. Whether or not you are married will not affect this, and even if you do not have contact with your children following the separation, you will still be expected to contribute. Generally, the parent that does not have the children living with them (the non-resident parent) will pay the other parent (the resident parent) a contribution towards their living costs.
The three main methods of putting in place financial arrangements are as follows:
Family-Based Child Maintenance Agreement
The parents can reach an agreement between themselves called a Family-Based Child Maintenance Agreement. This is not legally binding and so if this is not followed, then the party that is not receiving payments will need to follow one of the routes below.
Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
Parents can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). This service is used to calculate what the non-resident parent should pay based on various factors.
Apply to the Court
In some circumstances, it is possible to apply to the courts for child maintenance, when certain situations are not covered by the CMS's remit. The court can order periodical payments to be made either weekly or monthly. If circumstances change, the court can amend the order.
Custody and Contact Arrangements
When a relationship ends, many difficult decisions need to be made, and a major one will be where any children will live and what access they will have to the other parent.
Generally speaking, both parents will have parental responsibility for their children, regardless of who they live with. However, this does depend on whether the parents were married at the time of the children's birth or the father is named on the birth certificate- if this is not the case, then some steps can be taken to arrange for this.
If the parents are not able to decide a suitable arrangement between themselves, one of the parties can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Child Arrangement Orders have replaced Residence Orders, Child Custody Orders and Contact Orders since April 2014. The courts can consider shared residence, where the children spend time living with both parents, though this does not have to be an equal split.
The courts might also grant:
- Specific Issue Orders - These are granted for specific requirements relating to a child's upbringing (the type of education or religious upbringing can fall into this category).
- Prohibited Steps Orders - These orders are used to stop one parent making decisions regarding the child without the other parent's consent (for example, taking the child abroad).
Contact our Child Law Solicitors in London
Our expert family lawyers will advise each client on their individual circumstances to ensure a result that is best for them and their children. Our specialist team realises that can be a stressful time and will make sure you are kept updated on the progress of your case and understand what is happening every step of the way.