However, if such disputes cannot be resolved through negotiation, our child custody law experts will be right by your side to advise you on the various applications that can be made through the family law court.
Tracey has been through a divorce herself and has three children. She says: "Even though it is difficult to see through your distress and pain, always try to put the needs of your children first, as they are also affected by the break-up of the family."
If you need to speak with an experienced Child Custody Solicitor, then why not call us today on 0151 515 3036 or 07795 060 211 for a free, no-obligation chat to discuss your options? Alternatively, you can fill out our online form, and we’ll call you back at a more convenient time.
What You Should Know About Child Custody
The term “custody” no longer exists – it was replaced in the Children Act 1989 with the term “Parental Responsibility”. Parental Responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. The main two rights relate to medical issues and Education.
A child’s mother automatically has Parental Responsibility for the child. Since 1st December 2003, the child’s father has automatic Parental Responsibility if he is on the birth certificate, he can also get it by getting the mother’s agreement, if she does not consent, then he has to go to the family court. Of course, at Tracey Miller Family Law, our specialists can advise you on this in more detail.
If you are being prevented from exercising your Parental Responsibility or seeking to obtain Parental Responsibility, please get in touch with us to discuss your options.
What does the law say?
The Orders that the Family Court can make regarding children have had different names in the past including Custody. The main order is A “Child Arrangement Order” or CAO and deals with “residence”, and “contact” issues.
The types of Orders that the Court can make are:
1. A Child Arrangement Order: which deals with where a child lives and the arrangements for contact including birthdays, holidays, Christmas etc.
2. A prohibited steps order. This prevents a person from taking a specific step about a child, for example, preventing them from being permanently removed from the country.
3. A Specific issue order. This allows the Court to decide on an issue related to the child or children upon which the separating couple cannot reach an agreement, for example, the choice of school.
Child Law Matters
Child Law Matters can encompass a broad spectrum of legal issues concerning children, such as their rights, welfare, and protection. Additionally, there are responsibilities and obligations that parents and guardians must undertake to ensure the well-being of their children.
Child Law Matters relates to:
- Parental Responsibility
- Child Support
- Child Protection
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Education and Special Needs
A proficient lawyer or solicitor specialising in child law issues can significantly assist in effectively navigating these complex matters.
What Are The Effects of Divorce on Children?
Divorce can have numerous effects on children, and the impact can vary depending on each child. There are various factors to consider, such as age, personality, and divorce circumstances.
Not all children may experience negative consequences, but some common effects that divorce may have on children include the following:
1. Emotional Distress
2. Behavioural Issues
3. Academic Difficulties
4. Low Self-Esteem
5. Relationship Challenges
6. Health and Wellbeing
Confident children may show resilience and adapt well to the changes that divorce brings. Parents play a significant part in significantly influencing how well a child adjusts to divorce and deals with potentially harmful consequences.
How Does Family Law Court Work?
Family Law courts handle various legal matters related to families and domestic relationships. Some of the many family law issues include:
- Parental Responsibility
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Domestic Violence
The exact procedures and processes may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, the family courts work by:
Filing a Petition. This usually begins when one party files a complaint with the family court. The Applicant is typically the party seeking legal action, such as a divorce or custody arrangement.
Serving The Other Party. Upon filing the petition, the court mandates that the respondent be served with a copy. This service is fulfilled by either a process server or a law enforcement officer to guarantee proper notification.
Responding to the Application. The respondent is allowed a specific duration to respond to the application by either acknowledging or challenging the accusations made in the application. Failure to respond within a particular time limit may lead to a judgement in default.
Temporary Orders. When the case is pending, either party may request temporary orders to address the immediate concerns. These orders cater to temporary custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support.
Discovery. The exchange of information and evidence between opposing parties occurs through a legal process called 'discovery'. This can include various methods to gather pertinent information, such as document requests, written inquiries, and depositions.
Mediation or Settlement. Parties are obliged (unless deemed unsuitable) to attend mediation or settlement conferences to resolve disputes before proceeding to trial. A mediator, serving as a neutral party, facilitates negotiation and seeks out areas of agreement.
Trial. A case may proceed to trial if parties cannot arrive at a settlement. In such instances, each party presents their arguments, supporting evidence and witnesses before a judge or jury in some cases. The court subsequently makes a definitive ruling based on the above evidence and relevant laws.
Final Orders. Parties are required to abide by the last orders of the court. If there is non-compliance by one party, the other party may seek enforcement through the court. Furthermore, in cases of significant income change, modifications to custody agreements or other substantial changes in circumstances, parties may request revisions to court orders.
Enforcement and Modification. Parties are required to adhere to the court's ultimate judgment. Non-compliance by one party may lead the other party to pursue enforcement via the court. In the event of altered circumstances, a substantial income change, or the necessity for custody agreement modifications, the parties can apply to vary the existing court orders.
Family Law court processes can be complex. If you’re looking for top family law solicitors in Liverpool, Tracey Miller Family Law specialises in these areas and can guide you through any complicated situations.
Can You Get Legal Aid for Family Law?
Legal aid is available for individuals who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer or solicitor to handle family law matters. Legal aid can help to meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.
You could, for example, get legal aid if the problem is severe or you cannot afford to pay for legal costs.
Can Solicitors Act for Family Members?
No, solicitors cannot represent you if they are a friend or family member. Additionally, solicitors who have had prior association as a couple during your marriage cannot represent you, possibly due to a conflict of interests.
What Family Courts Expect from Parents
The court expects you to do what’s best for your child. They encourage your child to have a good relationship with both parents, even though you’re no longer together.
As parents, you share responsibility for your children, and you must talk to each other and arrange for your child to spend time with each of you. The court expects you to do what’s best for your child, even when you find that difficult.
Are Family Courts Fair?
Family courts are designed to handle legal matters related to family relationships, such as divorce, child support, parental responsibility, and domestic violence. While every situation is different, the law itself does not provide any bias in favour of the mother.
The family courts strive to be fair, and this perception of fairness can differ among individuals involved in these cases. Family courts prioritise the child's best interests and encourage both parents to uphold a meaningful relationship with their offspring, provided no exceptional circumstances such as abuse or neglect exist.
Children are the focus of separating couples, which can be the most challenging part of family law. If an agreement cannot be made for divorcing parents, then the final resort is an application to the court under the Children Act.
Mediation is a process intended for you and your ex-spouse or partner to discuss arrangements for children and financial matters under the guidance of a trained mediator. While we cannot be your mediator, we can refer you to an appropriate mediator to assist.
Are Family Proceedings Confidential?
As family proceedings generally involve sensitive and private matters, there are provisions in place to protect the confidentiality of these proceedings.
Many family court proceedings are typically closed to the public. Only the parties directly involved in the case, their legal representatives and court personnel, can attend these hearings.
Family proceedings are kept confidential to protect the children's best interests.
At Tracey Miller Family Law, we are all members of Resolution – an organisation with a membership of over 5000 lawyers who believe that all matters should be dealt with in a constructive, non-confrontational way. All Resolution members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a sensitive, cost-effective, and productive approach to family law, which will likely result in an agreement.
When Does Legal Responsibility for A Child End?
Parents or guardians take legal responsibility for a child until they are 18. Once children reach the age of 18 years old, they are considered an adult by law – and legally capable of making their own decisions and taking responsibility for their actions.
How Does Child Support Work and How Is It Calculated?
Child support, or Child Maintenance support, is calculated from the paying parent’s yearly gross income from information supplied by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
What Are the Grounds For Terminating Parental Rights?
The grounds for terminating parental rights are severe and involve severing the legal relationship between a parent and a child.
Some common reasons for terminating parental rights include:
- Abuse or Neglect
- Failure to Maintain Contact or Support
- Parental Unfitness
- Voluntary Termination
It’s essential to know that terminating parental rights is considered a last resort. Family courts prioritise the child's best interests, and termination is only considered if sufficient evidence supports the grounds for termination.
What Is a Consent Order, and What Does It Cover?
A consent order is a legally binding agreement between two parties involved in a legal dispute concerning family law matters. It is a written document that stipulates the mutually agreed-upon terms and conditions, which is also approved by the court and is legally enforceable.
The parties typically negotiate and agree to the terms outside the court proceedings to obtain a consent order. Once the agreement is reached, it is documented in writing, specifying the terms of the deal, including the financial arrangements, asset division, and parenting agreements.
Upon the preparation of the documented agreement, it is then presented for court approval to ensure its fairness and reasonableness to all parties, rendering it legally binding.
Speak To a Family Law Solicitor Today
Call today for a free and confidential no-obligation chat about your circumstances regarding child custody or any other children’s matters on 0151 515 3036. Alternatively, you can request a callback with us via our online contact form.
"Tracey was available at times that suited me and my child, such as weekends and after work."
- Anon, Liverpool
"At the time we appointed Tracey Miller Family Law, we were at the point of despair; we now have three lovely children who, without the help of Sarah, would have had a bleak future. We will always be grateful to everyone at Tracey Miller Family Law."
- David & Christine Beattie, Wirral