Frequently Asked Questions About Children Matters
How can Levins Solicitors help me?
We can help and advise in a variety of ways in all aspects of family law including:
|Divorce and Separation||Contact With Children|
|Residence Of Children||Financial Matters|
|Change Of Name||Grandparents’ Rights|
|Civil Partnerships||Parental Responsibility|
Can I get legal aid / How much will it cost me?
Legal aid is only available for public law proceedings e.g. care orders, supervision orders or if you are a victim of domestic violence. If you are eligible for legal aid we may be able to help you free of charge. When we first speak to you we will determine if you are eligible or not. If you are in receipt of income support, income based jobseekers allowance, income based employment and support allowance or guaranteed credit, you may be eligible for legal aid (you must bring proof of your income to your first appointment). If you are working or in receipt of any other benefits, an assessment will be undertaken when we speak to you.
If you do not qualify, you can use our fixed fee guide. We accept cash and cheques, or if it is easier for you, you can pay by debit or credit card.
What does parental responsibility mean?
Parental responsibility is the legal term given to a parent’s obligations to the child to nurture the child and to be involved in any issues relating to the child’s welfare, emotional and physical development and, in particular, important aspects of health and education.
A mother automatically gets parental responsibility for her child. A father acquires parental responsibility by being married to the mother or by his name being on the birth certificate for the child or by court order.
A parent can also agree to share parental responsibility with his or her partner, and we can advise on the mechanics of that process. Parental responsibility can also be given to other members of a child’s family if appropriate and in conjunction with other court orders. Parental responsibility can be shared between parents or other carers.
It is possible to get a court order to restrict how somebody may use their parental responsibility and again we can give full advice.
There is a dispute over contact, what can I do ?
We can assist by giving advice on the ways to promote contact so that the children continue to have a relationship with both their parents. Equally, however, if there is good reason for contact to be supervised or assessed, we can give advice about the steps that can be taken to achieve that.
There is no immediate answer to these problems.
It may be that we will suggest that mediation might be appropriate. Court orders are a blunt instrument and generally research shows that arrangements achieved by consent work better in the long term than arrangements imposed by the court. However, there is now an emphasis on court based mediation which can prove very effective where one parent is initially reluctant to take a proactive stance in working out the arrangements in the best interests of the children.
Who are CAFCASS and how are they involved in my case?
CAFCASS stands for Children and Family Court Advisory Support Services. CAFCASS look after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings. The main types of cases in which the court ask CAFCASS to help are where parents and carers are separating or divorcing and have not reached agreement about arrangements for the children, where social services have become involved and children may be removed from their parents’ care for their safety, and where children could be adopted. We can tell you whether CAFCASS will be involved in your case and the implications for your family.
Can I make an application for contact with my grandchildren?
Yes, this is possible. Leave of the court is required before the application is allowed to proceed. The court will want to know why the contact is being denied, the historical relationship you have had with your grandchildren and the effect any contact order with you may have upon any other contact that the grandchildren may be having with their non-resident parent. The welfare of the children is the most important factor for the court to consider.
Do I have to go to court to resolve a financial dispute with my ex-partner?
Frequently financial disputes can be resolved by straightforward negotiation between the parties or by mediation. If these routes are unsuccessful then you can make a court application but at the same time continue to try to negotiate a settlement.
Sometimes we may advise that a court application should be made in order to establish a timetable for resolving outstanding issues to avoid long term uncertainty. We can advise on all the various courses of action and on the likely outcome for your financial future.
What is a consent order?
A financial consent order is a record of what the parties have agreed in relation to their finances following the breakdown of their marriage or civil partnership. Frequently it reflects what has been agreed in mediation, on a collaborative law settlement or by negotiation. A document is prepared and supported by brief financial details, and those documents are put before a judge for consideration. It is dealt with as a paper exercise and it is not necessary to attend court.
Consent orders are very useful as they serve to avoid any future dispute over what the parties agreed at the time of the divorce, and we can advise you fully on the terms of any order before you agree to it.
My partner assaults or threatens me, what can I do?
If you are in that unhappy situation, you can come to us for impartial advice about the best way to protect yourself, whether by separation or, if necessary, by application to the court for injunctive relief. Legal aid is still available for victims of domestic violence.
What is a care order?
In simple terms, if a local authority is granted a care order then the local authority acquires parental responsibility and becomes the third parent (in addition to the mother and the father).
What is the role of the children’s guardian?
In care proceedings, the court will usually appoint a guardian for the child concerned. The guardian will be an independent professional and will advise the court on the child’s best interests.
Areas we cover Huyton, Liverpool, Merseyside, North West, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire