When a divorcing couple cannot agree on issues such as child residence (who will live with the children after the breakup) or contact arrangements (visits and holidays etc.) it can seem like the only solution is to go to court. When a family law dispute occurs it is always a good idea to talk to an experienced family lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity, because there are many ways that a solicitor can help, and it may not even be necessary to go to court.
George Ide’s family lawyers in Sussex offer expert and specialised legal advice and representation during children’s arrangement disputes. We can help ensure that your legal rights, and those of your dependants, are maintained whilst always attempting to reduce emotional stress on the children as much as possible.
When the divorce dispute involves children, heading straight for the courts may not always be in everybody’s best interests. At present, divorce proceedings in the courts are generally adversarial and this can lead to acrimonious confrontations. While, the arguments and wrangling may well take place in a court, without the children present, the fallout from such disputes can often leak into the parents’ relationships with the children and this can be extremely traumatic for youngsters, as they may experience feelings of guilt associated with the relationship breakdown.
Only a small proportion of parents end up in court to sort out their children arrangements – around 10%. However, if there is any risk of harm coming to the children, or one parent feels there is a risk of abduction, then parents are advised to talk to their family lawyer or the police as soon as possible. The family courts should always be notified if a child’s welfare is at risk and they have powers to prevent an abusive parent from having contact with a child, if necessary.
In most cases, around 85% of parents are able to make arrangements regarding parental responsibility, residence and contact between themselves. At present (February 2013) around 5% use mediation services, but the government and family courts want more parents to become involved in mediation if there are any divorce disputes.
Under family laws which came into effect on 6 April 2011 all couples wanting to go to court regarding a divorce dispute involving children arrangements and/or family property will be required to attend a Mediation Information and Awareness Session before they will be able to take their case to court (not applicable in cases involving domestic violence).
Mediation sessions can usually be arranged through a solicitor and it is a very good idea to have discussed your rights with a family law specialist before entering into mediation. Mediators are trained to help the parties maintain a balanced perspective in discussions and special measures can be put in place to help parties feel safe and receive equal treatment during difficult negotiations.
Ultimately, mediation attempts to help couples sort out their differences of opinions over children arrangements without the need to go to court. Court proceedings are time-consuming, costly and often contentious. Mediation can help couples mitigate the potential heartbreak and emotional stress which is often associated with divorce by making arrangements which are agreed by all parties involved.
If you would like to talk to an experienced divorce solicitor regarding issues involving children, please call the family law team at George Ide in Chichester today.
To find out more about our family solicitors please click through to the profiles featured on this page, or, alternatively, please call our Chichester offices today on 01243 786 668 and we will ensure you speak to the most suitable member of our team.