Category: Children Proceedings

Benefits of Using a Family Lawyer – Lund Bennett

Whenever you have an issue or a family matter that requires legal representation, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced professional. This is even more apparent in situations such as divorce or matters involving children, as the outcome could be life-changing in regards to your personal or financial situation.

At Lund Bennett, our team of family lawyers based in Manchester specialise in all areas of family law. This means we have a wide range of experience and knowledge at our disposal, having dealt with countless situations involving children and divorce. These scenarios can be extremely stressful for parents, and emotionally traumatic for children, which is why a specialist will prove to be a crucial asset for a swift and smooth resolution.

In-Depth Knowledge of Family Law

Laws change all the time for a variety of reasons, and no matter how minuscule a change is, it should never be overlooked. Many different cases fall under the umbrella of ‘family law’, but these are only a small percentage in regards to the law as a whole. A family lawyer specialises in these specific areas and will maintain an up-to-date knowledge of family law and child law, as well as remain aware of any changes that may affect your case.

A Family Lawyer to Suit Your Needs

Every member of our family law team is an example of the highest-quality family lawyer. With a wealth of experience and a vast range of knowledge pertaining to family law, we have a family lawyer on hand to suit the needs of any client who requires legal assistance. So, whether one of our lawyers handles your matter personally, or as a team when necessary, you will have the peace of mind knowing you’re in safe hands. 

Children and divorce is undoubtedly a tricky and stressful subject, but these feelings can be reduced somewhat when you have a specialist family lawyer in your corner. With years of experience in divorce and financial proceedings, as well as child law, we can guide you to a satisfactory resolution that ensures the best possible future for your children.

Legal advice: The right steps to take when a relationship ends

More often than not, the breakdown of a marriage or long-term relationship is a traumatic experience. Not only is there emotional distress, but there may well also be serious anxieties around finances and the custody of children.

Following the good legal advice of a reputable family solicitor like Lund Bennett and understanding your rights could, however, go some way towards easing the process.

At what stage during a relationship breakdown should you take legal advice? 

Normally the earlier the better. If you are thinking about leaving your partner or your partner has left you, it is best to get advice from a solicitor specialising in family law as soon as possible to see what your options are.

Why is it so vital to take steps sooner rather than later?

Once the relationship has broken down the family assets need to be divided up. By doing this early on you can ensure there is a fair distribution. It will also help you to move on with your new life once everything has been decided.

How is custody of children determined?

The primary concern is always the best interest of the child – this will always be first and foremost in any arrangement. Depending on the child’s age, however, his or her wishes may well also be taken in to account.

Do entitlements differ depending on whether or not you are actually married?

Yes. Unfortunately, if you are not married you won’t have the same rights as a married couple. In this situation it is therefore even more important to seek legal advice early on in a breakdown.

Your Child Arrangements during Coronavirus

During this uncertain time as family lawyers we are receiving a significant number of enquiries from separated parents about how and whether they should continue with arrangements in light of the spread of coronavirus, school closures and further government advice.

It is very important that we continue to follow government guidelines. If you are not aware of the current Government Advice we have covered this below:

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, appeared on both Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast News on 24 March 2020. In his initial interview he indicated that all children should remain with the parent in whose care they currently are. In his second interview he both apologised for his lack of clarity in the earlier interview and helpfully clarified the government’s advice which is that all children of separated parents under the age of 18 should continue to see both of their parents.

The clear government advice is welcome news for separated parents and means in general that:

  • If there is a Court Order in place that defines the time children spend with each of their parents this should continue; and
  • If there is no Court Order in place then the normal arrangements should continue.

Everyone at Lund Bennet appreciate that each case will be very different and every family will have their own particular set of circumstance they have to contend with. We would encourage all separated parents/families to discuss matters openly and honestly and agree with a plan which works best for the children. If unfortunately, you’re a parent who is being refused time with their child and are unsure if this is reasonable, or if you’re a parent who doesn’t know whether to allow their child to visit their other parent’s home, you may need some legal advice at this time. We can offer telephone appointments with our experienced solicitors who can provide practical and sensible guidance at this difficult time. Contact us to book a telephone consultation today.

Who decides where a child lives after their parents separate?

Any separation can be difficult, but one that involves children can be particularly challenging and emotional.

The biggest decision that couples with children will need to make if they separate, is the children’s living arrangements.

Where possible, it is always easiest and less stressful for everyone involved if the family can come to an amiable agreement together.

However, this is not always possible. In instances where parents do not agree on where a child should live, they may need to seek help from one or more of the following:
•A solicitor specialising in family law.
•Mediation.
•The Family Court.

No matter which route you take to help decide the best living arrangements for your children, the welfare of the children is always considered first and foremost.

Family law solicitor
A family law solicitor will be able to advise you on all avenues open to you and provide you with sound legal advice and guidance.

Mediation
Mediation is a process guided by a trained, impartial, third-party that allows the two parties to have a constructive discussion and hopefully negotiate an outcome that all parties are happy with.

The Family Court
If an agreement still cannot be reached, then it may be necessary to apply to the Family Court for one or more orders to be made. A child arrangement order will decide who the child will live with, who they will spend time with, and when. In some cases, it may also be relevant for the court to issue a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order.

Lund Bennett are family law specialists based in Altrincham and Manchester. For legal help and guidance regarding disputes about child living arrangements, mediation services, or help applying for a court order, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors by calling us 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.

Do I need consent from my ex to change our child’s name?

If a parent wishes to change their child’s surname, they should first seek the consent of any other person with parental responsibility.

There are several reasons why a parent may wish to change their child’s name after a separation or divorce. If the parents were married, then it is quite common for one party to revert to their maiden name. Similarly, if one person remarries, they may wish for the child to take their new family name.

Whatever the reason for the name change, everyone with parental responsibility should consent to the change in writing before it can be changed.

When there is consent

If all parties with parental responsibility are happy with the proposed name change then the change can be made via deed poll. If the child in question is aged between 16 and 18 then they too must sign the deed poll to consent to the change of name.

When there isn’t consent

If your ex disagrees with the name change and you cannot get their consent, then you will need to apply for a Specific Issue Order to change the child’s name.

The court will then decide whether the name change is in the best interests of the child. A few factors that will influence their decision includes the length of time the child has had their existing name, the reasons for the change, the effect changing or not changing their name could have on the child, and the child’s wishes.

Specific Issue Orders can also be requested by the opposing parent in order to prevent the name change.

Requesting a Specific Issue Order

If you require a Specific Issue Order to either apply to change your child’s name or prevent it being changed, get in touch with our team of specialist family law solicitors here at Lund Bennett by calling us on 0161 927 3118.

Relocating Children Abroad Without Consent

Sometimes when a relationship breaks down a partner may wish to relocate with the children to a place where they will have a strong support network or perhaps new career opportunity. This can in some cases be worked out with an agreement between a couple but in cases where the move is abroad, this can result in disputes that may end with criminal charges being brought if official permission has not been granted.  

These criminal charges are not to be taken lightly and can even end up with the parent who took the child abroad without consent facing a trial. This is because it is classed as an offence under English law to remove a child from the country without the consent of all concerned.  

This means that it is essential to obtain consent before making the decision to travel abroad with children even for a holiday.  

Even if official consent it sought, a parent who does not wish for their children to be taken abroad can submit a defence against their children being taken abroad. It is then up to the court to decide if it is in the child’s best interests and their welfare will not be impacted by their relocation abroad. 

This I why it is essential in these cases to obtain legal advice at the earliest stage to ensure that the reasons provided to the court for a child’s removal from the country will survive scrutiny.

Unreasonable conduct can cost you in children proceedings!

The general rule in civil proceedings is that the ‘loser’ should pay the ‘winner’s’ costs however in family proceedings, this rule does not usually apply, particularly in proceedings that involve children. However, in the recent case of S v S this position changed.

The case of S v S involved an application made by a father for his two sons (aged 15 and 13) to live with him in Switzerland. The application was opposed by the mother with whom the boy had always lived.

During the course of the proceedings, there was a report produced by an Independent Social Worker who advised that ‘given the strength of the boys’ feelings and wish to live with their father, I believe that there is no alternative to agree to his application’.

The father’s application was granted however due to the highly exceptional nature of these proceedings, a costs order was made against the father. Initially both parties applied for their costs however the father retracted his claim and invited the court to make ‘no order for costs’ whereas the mother continued to pursue her application.

The court held that although the father had ‘won’ his application, his behaviour was reprehensible in certain respects in a way which directly fed into the manner in which the proceedings arose, the way in which they were pursued and the fact that the matter had led to a final hearing. The parties’ total costs came to £938,000 and the court ordered that the father pay £150,000 towards the mother’s costs.

Costs orders in children proceedings are exceptional, however, this recent case is a reminder that it is possible to penalise unreasonable conduct within children proceedings with an order for costs.