During your first meeting with one of our family lawyers, you will be considerately listened to.
No one knows your journey with child arrangements better than you do, so your Harbour Family Law solicitor will listen carefully before asking some questions to build a full picture of your situation and aims. Their advice will always put the wellbeing of your child at the forefront. From there, the specialist will be able to offer you advice and lay out the options you have before you. They will give you all the information you need to begin making decisions for the future of your family and will also be able to give you an estimate of the cost.Book your initial consultation now
Parents are sometimes surprised by the number of questions that need to be answered when discussing child arrangements. The big three are where the child or children will live, how they will keep in contact with parents and family members and how their wants and needs will be paid for. However, within those are many other details that can cause difficulties in the divorce process later on if the parties discover they are not on the same page. This can include what activities the child will continue with, where they spend the holidays etc.
While a partially flexible arrangement can work for some families and details are likely to change over time, having a clear set of expectations from both parties can help to steady the transition. Where the children involved are older, their wishes must also be considered. For this reason, creating a workable agreement during the separation process is extremely important. These discussions are often difficult and emotionally charged but, with legal guidance and the child’s best interests put first, a way forward can often be found.
We often recommend mediation as a first step if parents are unable to settle all matters between themselves (It is not recommended in cases where domestic abuse is present). We prepare our clients for these meetings with good knowledge of their legal standing and advice on how to approach the process.
Mediation sessions involve both parties trying to come to an agreement in the presence of an unbiased third party who will ensure a measured and productive atmosphere, focused on the issues at hand. The mediator will also sometimes speak to any children to assess what their wishes are. If there are still matters to be discussed after mediation, our solicitors can help with further negotiations. This can be done through meetings with both parties or through correspondence. In some cases, taking part in family or individual counselling can help during this process- both in terms of giving you a clear mind for negotiations and in protecting your mental wellbeing during a stressful time. If one parent refuses to engage in the process or parties are still unable to agree, it may be necessary to begin court proceedings.
''When you're dealing with emotionally driven matters that involve your children, all you want is to get the best advice that's easy to understand and gets the best outcome for everyone. Nicky came highly recommended to me for a reason - she is friendly, approachable, and 100% knows her stuff. Nicky put my mind at ease and I cannot thank her enough for that.''
There are several types of court order you can apply for concerning your children. These include:
– A child arrangement order (Who a child lives with or has contact with)
– A prohibited steps order (Preventing a parent from carrying out a specific activity involving the child)
– A specific issue order (Determining a specific question concerning the child)
– A consent order (Making an agreement settled between parents legally binding)
These can be applied for at the time of separation or later in the co-parenting relationship.
We can help you with the process of applying for an order and give you a good idea of how the court is likely to approach your case. If your application requires a hearing, we will work with your barrister to prepare your case and give you the best possible chance for a good outcome.
Going through court hearings is often expensive and time consuming. It can also put a strain on previously workable family and co-parenting relationships. Additionally, many parents feel more at peace with arrangements they have agreed on themselves – as this is a situation they have more control over.
There are cases where court action is necessary to protect a child or children’s wellbeing or where non-engagement from one parent limits other options. However, we find that collaborative law can be an excellent alternative method of dispute resolution.
This is when both parents hire a lawyer trained in collaborative law (there are several experts at Harbour Family Law) and make a commitment to agreeing child arrangements themselves rather than through court proceedings. An emphasis will be put on calm, constructive negotiations about what will benefit the child most and what is practical for both parents.
Our goal is to create a comfortable and uplifting environment where clients can visit our family lawyers in Bristol, Portishead and Clevedon and receive expert legal advice that makes sense.