Children's Arrangement

The interests of children require sensitive and expert handling. Ursula Bagnall has extensive experience in acting for parents and children in these difficult and emotional disputes.

Parental Responsibility

Both parents automatically have parental responsibility for a child if they were married when the child was born or if the father is named on the child's birth certificate. This gives them all the rights and duties that parents normally have in relation to education, medical treatment and any change of the child's name.

Residence

If a child's parents cannot agree which of them the child should live with, either parent can apply for a Residence Order. The Court will usually ask an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to meet with the child and both parents and to assess the situation and if agreement cannot be reached to provide a report. The Court has to make a decision on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child.

Contact

If a child's parents cannot agree on how often the parent with whom the child is not living (the non-resident parent) should see the child, that parent can apply to the court for a Contact Order. If the Court makes a Defined Contact Order it will be specific, as to the precise times and dates that contact must take place, including whether and how often the child should stay overnight with the non-resident parent and how much holiday time the child should spend with them.

Specific Issue Orders

In addition to Residence and Contact Orders, parents may apply under for the court to decide any specific issue about the child e.g. whether the child should be removed from the jurisdiction, which school he or she should attend, whether he or she should have certain medical treatment and so on.

Grandparents

it is important that the acrimony of divorce or separation does not interfere with the relationship between children and their relatives, particularly so, between children and their grandparents where often a deep bond is formed.

Neither has the right to obstruct contact between the children and grandparents just because they find it uncomfortable.

We can advise of the options available to grandparents by virtue of the Children Act 1989 and the possibility of obtaining a contact or residence order.

Financial Provision for Children


Maintenance

Maintenance for children was taken out of the hands of the Courts in 1991 and since then has been entirely the remit of the Child Support Agency. The only exception is where maintenance for children has been agreed on a voluntary basis and included as a term of an Order concluding all the Financial Arrangements between the parties. The basis of child support is child 15% of net salary for 1 child, 20% for 2 children and 25% for 3 children. There are certain exceptions to these rates, in particular a reduction for the number of nights per week that a child spends with the absent parent.

Capital/Housing

Schedule One of the Children Act 1989

Upon separation, the parent with whom the children will live can apply to the Court for the provision of housing for the child’s minority. Applications are most appropriate where the parties are former co-habitees whose family home is in the sole name of the ‘non-caring’ parent. The caring parent can also apply for a lump sum payment for a specific requirement of the child or children.

The overriding principle of the courts at all times is that 'the children's interests are paramount.'

-Sensitive Approach
-Forward thinking
-Years of experience
-Value for money