Our Family Law Solicitors can help with all Child Law issues including separation. When a relationship breaks down and there are children involved, we know that both parents will want to work towards meeting the best interests of the children when arranging family life after the separation.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide immediate legal representation anywhere in England & Wales. We offer both flexible pricing and fixed fees for all our family law services.
Children Law in England & Wales about Separation
When parents separate, the first concern is almost always the arrangements for their children. Issues that must be tackled include how the children are told about their parents’ separation and how they are best supported through it. There is then the question of how a child’s time will be divided between the parents once they have established separate households.
Arrangements for the children can be one of the most difficult and emotional issues for separating parents. Consequentially, the same arrangements are frequently the source of more serious and profound disagreements. Mental Health Professionals (and common sense) tell us that parental separation is a confusing and distressing time for a child. It's crucial, when addressing arrangements for the future, that everything possible is done to minimise the stress and anxiety generated. This helps the adults and more importantly it helps the children.
Child Law & Separation - Alternatives to Court
Not all parents can agree all aspects of their child’s upbringing. Some need help, either generally or in relation to a particular issue. Courts now actively require parents to consider alternative methods of resolving disputes about their children before applying for Court Orders for Children.
We sometimes find that decisions made by a Judge are not really to the liking of either parent. This is one of the risks of litigation. Parents who can agree arrangements outside of the Court process retain control. They can tailor outcomes more to their family’s needs, and reaching an agreement can also send an important message to children that both parents support the new arrangements.
There are a number of alternatives to Court proceedings to settle disputes about children. The most popular are as follows:
- Mediation: This involves both parents meeting a Mediator who will listen to their respective viewpoints and help them identify and work towards an agreed outcome. Where appropriate, Mediation can also involve extended family members, but this should be discussed with the Mediator to establish whether wider attendance will be helpful. There are various Mediation Models. Some parents prefer Sole Mediation, where a single Mediator meets with both of them. Others prefer Joint Mediation, where two Mediators work with the family. The Mediators are often of different genders, so there is no sense of the men ganging up against the women, or vice versa. In high conflict situations, Shuttle Mediation may be used, this keeps parents physically separate, in different rooms, with the Mediator shuttling between the rooms. Mediators may be, but do not need to be, legally qualified and many Family Lawyers are trained Mediators. Whether a Lawyer Mediator is necessary depends on the matters in dispute.
- Child Inclusive/Child Consultation Mediation: Some specialist Mediators can meet with the children at the centre of the dispute, to listen to their voice and viewpoint, and report back to the adults what is said. This helps parents reach decisions informed by their children’s wishes and feelings. In many cases this is more relevant for older children.
- Collaborative Law: The Collaborative Family Law process involves each parent appointing their own Collaboratively Trained Lawyer. However, instead of conducting negotiations at a distance, such as by letter or telephone, discussions to identify solutions take place at a series of face-to-face meetings involving the Lawyers and the parents. Each parent has a Lawyer by his or her side throughout the entire process. Collaborative Law therefore enables participants to access legal advice as they go.
- Negotiation through Solicitors: Instructing a Family Solicitor to deal with your separation issues does not mean a case is destined for Court. Many of our separation cases are resolved without the case ever going before a Judge. Others settle quickly after Court proceedings are issued. At Slater and Gordon our specialist Child Law Solicitor’s repertoire includes instinct and the ability to recognise opportunities to negotiate, and to utilise those opportunities to achieve the best outcome for our clients.
There are many resources providing support and practical guidance to parents going through separation. These can help whether accessed instead of, or in parallel with, legal advice or Court proceedings:
Our Legal Advice Guide to Children and Separation which you can download and print.
Parenting Plans - CAFCASS produce a comprehensive parenting plan booklet which provides guidance on agreeing some or all arrangements affecting the children of separated parents.
Parenting after Parting Sessions. Various providers offer Parenting after Parting sessions which offer practical solutions on co-parenting following a separation. Many parents who attend these sessions report being struck by the information provided about the huge emotional damage done to children through parents engaged in bitter and long-running disputes about them. We can offer details of groups, charities and organisations offering Parenting after Parting sessions.
Online Resources. There are many websites dedicated to helping parents and children through a separation. Useful sites include:
Non-Legal Input. We have close links with other professionals that work with children, and particularly children whose parents are separated or going through the separation process. Different families will have different needs, but some of the professionals with whom we regularly work include Therapists, Counsellors, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and Educational Psychiatrists.
For an initial consultation call our Family Law Solicitors for expert Separation advice on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester, Watford, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.