Want to spend time with your child(ren) after a separation/relationship breakdown? Looking for a solicitor in the Solihull area?
We can help you achieve long-term successful arrangements for your child or children whilst minimising the impact upon them
When a relationship has broken down and the tough decision to separate with your partner has been made, the next focus becomes your relationship with your child or children. Our children are our world, our main priority, and we all want what is best for them. But what if you and your partner don’t share the same views as to what is best when it comes to arrangements for them post separation or divorce?
Every relationship breakdown is unique, and although there is a legal framework provided by the law for disputes involving children, it very rarely achieves an outcome on which both parents agree; one which continues to work for all those involved in the long term. For this reason, it is relatively rare for the courts to make orders relating to children when a divorce is finalised. The hope is that the parents will be able to reach a mutually acceptable decision regarding the children. However, there are obviously situations where this is sadly not the case; where an agreement simply cannot be reached.
How can we help?
At Wallace, Robinson and Morgan, we are highly trained and very experienced family law solicitors, here to help you no matter where you are on your child arrangements journey. We ensure the greatest chance of a successful outcome for you by gaining a thorough understanding of your situation and how it came to be, not only from a factual perspective but psychologically as well. We make it our mission to help you achieve the best possible outcome with as little stress as possible for all those involved.
The nature of our involvement will depend upon where you are on your child arrangement journey. The scenarios in which we can help are detailed below;
1. Making your agreement legally binding
If you are lucky enough to come to an agreement with your ex -partner, with or without the help of a mediator, about the arrangements for your child or children following your divorce (or separation if you are unmarried), it’s a good idea to make a written record of your agreement in the form of a Parenting Plan. This document is then something that you should both have a copy of so that it can be used for reference if needed in the future. This document can also be changed at any time providing both parties agree. If you want to make your agreement legally binding, we can help you. One of our family law experts will be able to draft a ‘consent order’ outlining the details of your arrangement. It will include information such as where you have agreed that your child or children will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. Once this document has been drawn up and agreed by you and your ex- partner, we will get it recognised by the courts for you. It will be approved by a judge providing they believe that the decisions you have made are in the interests of your child or children and in the absence of any safeguarding concerns that would prevent them from making the order.
2. Collaborative Law
If your scenario is not quite as straight-forward as the one above, do not despair! There are several other ways of reaching an agreement without the trauma of going through the courts. Collaborative Law is a new approach to the resolution of family issues and is being used increasingly where an agreement needs to be reached regarding child arrangements following the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. A settlement is reached in a non-confrontational manner and without the need for court involvement, based upon cooperation between parties and the assistance of collaboratively trained lawyers in face-to-face meetings. As with mediation, Collaborative Law is based on principled negotiations. However, unlike mediation, where both parties meet with one neutral mediator who can’t offer legal advice, Collaborative Law involves each party instructing their own collaboratively trained lawyer who is present in each session and able to offer advice when required. The other advantage to the collaborative law process is the fact that the lawyers who will draft and agree a final version of the court papers for you have been part of the agreement process, thus fully understanding how you arrived there. This reduces the chance of delays at this stage that might result from misunderstanding.
The team at Wallace, Robinson and Morgan are fully trained in Collaborative Law enabling us to use this highly successful process to help you to achieve an amicable resolution to any child arrangement disputes you may have.
What if an agreement can't be reached?
1. The Court System
In most cases you’ll have to prove that you attended a meeting to explore the possibility of mediation for your case before you can take the step to put your child arrangement disputes before the courts.
If you and your partner are still unable to come to an agreement you may have no choice but to issue court proceedings. At this point CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) will usually get involved.
The court’s primary responsibility is to the children in terms of their welfare and best interests. If it gets to this point, which in our experience it rarely does, our experienced solicitors can negotiate on your behalf. They undergo continued legal education throughout the year, which ensures they know the latest family law trends and updates that may impact your case.
If court becomes/has become necessary, what can I expect from the process?
Depending on which child arrangements you and your ex-partner disagree on, you can apply for a range of court orders to put arrangements into place that you are comfortable with. For example, you can apply for a ‘child arrangements order’ that determines where your child lives, when they spend time with each parent and what types of contact each parent has. If you have preferences regarding specific issues such as which school you would like your child or children to attend or a particular religion that you would like them to follow, you can also apply for a ‘specific issue order’ to this effect. If you wish to prevent something such as the child relocating abroad or to another part of the UK you can apply for a prohibited steps order.
Once you’ve applied for the relevant court orders, you will have a telephone interview with a CAFCASS officer who will prepare a letter for the court to set out the main issues in the case and provide the court with guidance as to what should happen next. At the first hearing a magistrate or judge will do their bit to encourage you and your ex-partner to reach an agreement. If in their experience this option has been exhausted without success, the magistrate or judge will determine what happens next.
They will take your applications for court orders into account but will only make a court order if they think it is in the best interests of your child or children. A wide range of issues will be taken into consideration as they work through their decision-making process. For example, where possible they will take the wishes and feelings of your child or children into consideration as well as their emotional, physical and educational needs, and of course your ability as their parent to meet those needs. Practical considerations such as hours worked by each parent will be a factor, together with any health or social issues that may be detrimental to them. The impact of any changes upon the wellbeing of your child or children or anything in the proposed arrangements that could put them at risk will also be considered and taken very seriously.
The court proceedings path often involves two or more hearings so can be long, costly, highly stressful, and the combative approach has the potential to cause greater distress and harm to your children and to your wider family in the long term. There are child arrangement cases where court proceedings prove to be the only way forward. We will help you to ensure that you have exhausted all other options open to you before you embark upon it.
Why choose Wallace, Robinson and Morgan?
Here at Wallace, Robinson and Morgan, our team are trained in both traditional and Collaborative Law which is relatively rare, giving us the ability to help you wherever you are on your child arrangement journey. We are a friendly and approachable team of professionals, with more than 20 years-experience and a great deal of empathy for your situation, giving you the best opportunity of achieving child arrangements with which you feel comfortable and have your child/children’s’ best interest at heart. So, rest assured that whatever is determined to be the best path for you, you will be in the safe and experienced hands of some of the country’s most highly trained and experienced family lawyers.
Talk to us
What to do next?
Why not make an appointment to talk to one of our friendly family law solicitors – Kathryn or Dipika – and they’ll listen and understand your situation in order to provide the right advice for you?
Simply call us on 0121 705 7571 to book an appointment or complete the form above (rest assured your privacy is safe with us) and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to discuss your requirements.
Kathryn Ferris LLB (Hons)
Head of Family Department
Kathryn is a trained Collaborative Lawyer and passionately believes that the use of this process means clients avoid acrimony giving themselves the best chance of achieving an amicable resolution. She is an active member of Resolution and the Collaborative Family Law Group West Midlands.
Kathryn is experienced in all aspects of financial disputes but has particular expertise working with mid to high net worth clients who are separating after a long marriage. These cases often involve more complex legal issues such as how pensions can be retained or used flexibly to realise capital, business interests and identification of matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets.
She also advises on matters concerning children including arrangements following separation, applications to relocate and applications by grandparents and step-parents. Should it prove necessary to involve the court then she takes a robust approach to ensure clients achieve the best possible outcome.
Kathryn qualified as a solicitor in 2000 specialising exclusively in Family Law for the last 17 years. She is now Head of the firm’s Family Department. The most rewarding aspect of her role is helping clients move on to the new phase of their life with confidence and security.
As a working mother she has plenty to fill her time away from the office, but particularly enjoys tennis, cycling, travelling and singing in the BID Solihull Pop Chorus Choir.
Dipika Mistry LLB (Hons)
Dipika provides clear advice from the outset. Her financial cases involve substantial financial assets, property division, investments, protecting pension interests and businesses. She is particularly adept in issues of domestic abuse, complex children cases involving high conflict, disputed allegations, psychological issues and removal from the jurisdiction.
Dipika is a determined advocate for her clients, and sensitive to their particular needs, prioritising their objectives, firmly believing in taking a proactive and robust approach to achieve their desired outcome.
Dipika is a member of Resolution and sits on its Training and Learning Committee. As a trained Collaborative Lawyer, Dipika is able to offer this valuable option to deal with matrimonial disputes in a conciliatory and constructive manner to minimise her clients’ emotional anxieties in this challenging area of law.
Dipika has practised family law exclusively for over 20 years, including running her own practice, and has a wealth of experience in relationship breakdown and divorce.
Dipika thrives on leading a busy life, balancing her career with devoting her leisure time to her family, her love of good fiction and creativity.
“WRM have advised me over the last 20 years regarding a whole range of matters – divorce, moving house and partnership law. I have always been delighted with their advice and service.”
“I would certainly recommend WRM to anyone needing family law representation. The advice and support I was given throughout was very good and gave me a clear and realistic understanding of the likely outcomes. “
“Kathryn and her team were very professional and definitely help me to achieve a fair outcome from the final court appearance.”
“My dealings with Kathryn throughout the case were nothing short of exemplary. Polite, courteous and very professional from the start. I would highly recommend Kathryn and WRM solicitors.”
“I found the whole process of my divorce really stressful but Dipika Mistry helped me through it until the end. I had good advice to get me where I needed. I couldn’t have managed without her help.”
“Very happy with the service I received and would recommend to anyone, indeed I already have. Dipika, I can’t thank you enough you’ve guided me through a very difficult time."
"I went to Dipika for help, I really did not understand anything about divorce and how I should take things forward, it was clear my marriage had broken down irretrievably. Dipika and her team were professional and gave me clear, frank advice.”
“It is an extremely stressful and frustrating time, but having the WRM team supporting me, sorting out all the logistics, and working to get things moving was crucial."
“I think it would have been extremely difficult to have done this myself and I am extremely grateful."
Wallace, Robinson and Morgan handled my divorce which has just been finalised. I am so appreciative of all the work that WRM has done for me. Divorce is very hard, and your calm, knowledgeable and thoughtful approach was exactly what I needed. What impressed me most, was the time given to me to allow me to make decisions which I found very hard. I was expertly advised, but never pushed or hurried. The non- confrontational approach of Wallace Robinson & Morgan suited me, and I can thoroughly recommend them in family matters.