Family law is often highly emotionally charged, and difficult even for seasoned family solicitors to deal with. It covers a wide swathe of legal territory, and so, if you’re embroiled in legal action, it’s worth looking into the specifics that relate to your circumstances.
Divorce comes in two categories: contested (where you’ve failed to come to an agreement) and uncontested. You’ll want to seek legal advice beforehand, and try to be as amicable as possible, especially where children are involved.
You might be granted sole custody of your child, which means that you’ll have the exclusive right to make decisions on behalf of the child. This means healthcare, school, and religious upbringing. In joint or shared custody, you’ll need to come to a joint decision on all of these topics. If you find that you’re struggling to agree, then getting a mediator in might be worthwhile.
After a separation, one parent might be obliged to provide financial support to the child. The amount you contribute will be based on your earnings, the number of nights the child spends with you, and the number of children. Your payments might be arranged privately, or through the government’s Child Maintenance Service.
In the UK, a court might instruct the higher-earning half of a couple to pay maintenance payments to the lower-earning half. These payments can take place over a specific timespan, or until one of you dies or remarries.
Division of Assets
The court will aim to divide your property up in a way that’s fair and equitable. Be honest, and don’t try to hide any assets from your partner. If you’re found out, you could be in legal trouble. Get important assets valued before you come to an agreement on how to split them.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
One of the most important and sensitive areas of family law is domestic violence. If you’ve been the victim of this kind of violence, whether you’re a man or a woman, you can apply for an injunction. This is a kind of court order that will instruct your partner to leave you alone (a ‘non-molestation’ order) or stay a certain distance from your family home (an ‘occupation’ order).
You can find more information on how to deal with domestic violence from charities like Refuge.
Paternity and Fathers’ Rights
Paternity can be established in three ways. You might voluntarily admit to being the father via the child’s birth certificate. A court might order you to take a DNA test, often at the urging of the other parent. Finally, if DNA testing is inconclusive, the court will make a determination based on other available evidence.
Adoption comes in several forms. You can adopt a child in the UK, which involves one legal process, or you can adopt a child from overseas, which might involve two of them (one for each country). A stepparent adoption gives you the legal status of parent over a child you’re already looking after as stepparent.
The process can be long and stressful, so make sure that you’re explaining everything to the child along the way.
Grandparents in the UK don’t have the automatic right to see their grandchildren. If you can’t come to an agreement with the parents, then you might apply to court under the Children Act 1989. Everyone involved may be invited to a hearing, at which the court may award you the right to see your grandchild.
Image Credits: Tingey Injury Law Firm