Month: August 2019

Back to school creates its own issues for separated parents

Now the summer holidays are ending, and the oh-so-frightening GCSE results day has passed, separated parents are having to carefully consider how to deal with contact arrangements for term-time.
With the new school term approaching, parents are having to negotiate the drop-offs and pick-ups whilst also considering other matters such as uniforms and various school equipment. These discussions can quickly become topics of heated discussion.

Navigating such arrangements with an ex-partner can be tricky and the resulting disagreements can have a negative impact on the children. The key to such arrangements is effective communication. Sometimes this requires taking a step back from the situation and have a professional help both parties to evaluate the important issues.

Except in limited circumstances, such as where there are issues of domestic violence, both parties are required to attend mediation prior to starting court proceedings. This is to try to encourage parents to resolve their disputes without needing to incur the associated emotional and financial costs.

A recent review has revealed that the levels of private children applications starting in the family courts is at an all-time high. Having an effective process in place with clear advice from a family law solicitor can make all the difference and potentially avoid the need for parents going to court.

If you have a family law query, then please contact our team at Lund Bennett Law LLP on 0161 924 0079.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders and Non- Molestation Orders

A case that is prominent in the headlinesat the moment involves Princess Haya of Jordan, the estranged wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. She is asking for a forced marriage protection order relating to their children and a non-molestation order against her husband following the breakdown of their marriage.

The coverage of this case illustrates that the issues raised by these types of Orders can affect people from all walks of life.

What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?

A forced marriage protection order is a civil remedy to prevent people from being forced into marriage against their will. They can also protect those who have already been forced into marriage. In the majority of cases the person involved has received pressure from family members to marry against their will.

Whilst forced marriage is a crime in the UK, many people are reticent from reporting members of their own family to the police and pursuing criminal charges. A Forced Marriage Protection Order is an alternative to this and can provide protection. They and can also have a power of arrest attached if the court believes the respondent has used or threatened violence against the applicant or is in breach of the Order.

What is a Non-Molestation Order?

Non-molestation orders can protect against violence or harassment by a partner, ex-partner or family member. These can be useful for people who still need protection from the court in situations where the Police have confirmed they won’t be pursuing criminal charges.

A Non-Molestation Order allows the family court to impose restrictions on the partner’s ability to contact a person and this can be extended to attendance at a person’s property and methods of communication. These types of Orders are usually made for either 6 or 12-months duration. Any breach of these Orders is a criminal offence and should be reported to the Police.

What is the difference between an injunction and a restraining order?

Restraining orders and injunctions are both commonly used to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers.

Both types of order are used to restrict an offender’s actions in order to protect the victim and any children involved.

The kinds of restrictions that the two orders may impose on an offender include:

  • Prevent them from living in the family home.
  • Prevent them from entering the family home and the surrounding area.
  • Prevent them from contacting the victim.
  • Prevent them from pestering or harassing the victim.
  • Prevent them from using or threatening violence.

But what is the difference between the two types of order and when is each appropriate?

Injunctions

There are two different types of injunction; an occupation order, and a non-molestation order. Occupation orders primarily deal with who occupies the family home, whilst non-molestation orders prevent harassment and further abuse.

Restraining order

Restraining orders are imposed on offenders to prevent them from further abusing or harassing victims. The order can prevent them from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.

What is the difference between an injunction and a restraining order?

Injunctions and restraining orders can be used for very similar purposes.

The main difference between the two is that an injunction can be used to impose restrictions on the offender before they’ve been charged with a criminal offence, whilst a restraining order is issued at the end of a criminal case. A restraining order can be issued whether or not the offender was found guilty.

If you don’t meet the criteria for an injunction, then a restraining order may be a better solution for you. It is also possible to apply for a restraining order yourself through the civil court.

If you require help, support, or legal advice relating to domestic abuse, please give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett a call on 0161 927 3118.

Child cases starting in the family courts continue to rise

Following an influx in new childcare cases in the family courts, the President of the Family Law Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane has launched a public consultation into our current system.  At the launch he described those working in the court system as needingto “run up a down escalator” to deal with the amount of cases progressing through the courts.

Last year there was a staggering 53,164 private children cases involving 123,334 children. There is no sign that this rise will abate in the coming years.

Another factor putting pressure on the family court stems from the cuts to family legal aid. Under the current system only those who can demonstrate that they are both victims of domestic violence and on a low income qualify for family legal aid. Because of this, more-and-more litigants are representing themselves at court without the assistance of legal advice.

We would always recommend that clients seek independent legal advice when undergoing family proceedings and before attending court.

One aim of the McFarlane review is to identify cases that could be resolved through mediation rather than through the court system. A quarter of cases coming before the courts do not involve domestic violence or concerns about the safety of a child so may be suitable for negotiations between solicitors.

We have a breadth of experience in all aspects of children matters and are able to advise our clients in a sympathetic and pragmatic manner.

If you require legal advice or support, give our team of family law specialists here at Lund Bennett Law LLP a call on 0161 924 0079.

How can I gain parental responsibility for my child?

Without parental responsibility you may miss out on having a say in important decisions to do with your child’s life.

It is a common misconception that being a parent automatically grants you legal parental responsibility of your child.

Only those with legal parental responsibility can make important life decisions for a child.

The kinds of decisions that require parental responsibility include those to do with:

  • Education
  • Health and medical
  • Taking a child abroad
  • Religion
  • Child’s name

Parental responsibility is legally defined as: “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”

Who has parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically gain parental responsibility at the birth of their child.

A father will gain parental responsibility if:

  • He is married to the woman when the child is born.
  • The child was born after December 1st2003 and the father is listed on the child’s birth certificate.

How can a father gain parental responsibility?

Fathers without parental responsibility of their children can obtain it using one of the following methods:

  • Marrying the child’s mother.
  • Having his name registered on the birth certificate.
  • Entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother.
  • Obtaining a parental responsibility order from the court.
  • Obtaining a child arrangement order from the court.

Who else can gain parental responsibility?

In some situations, it may be appropriate for another family member to gain parental responsibility for a child. This could include a step-parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle.

In these instances, it is possible to apply to the court for a residence order or a special guardianship order.

If you require help obtaining parental responsibility of a child, get in touch with our team of specialist family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett by calling us on 0161 927 3118.