Family & Child Law

Family & Child Law

When a matrimonial relationship breaks down, we understand that one of the most important considerations for parents is the future arrangements for their children. In an ideal world, both parents will come to a mutual agreement as to how this will be decided, this is unfortunately not always the case. At Westbrook, we believe that this is when acquiring legal advice is essential to preserve the wellbeing of all the parties involved, and most importantly for the children.

Westbrook Law recognises that every family set-up is different; therefore we tailor our services to meet the exclusive needs and requests of our clients. When changes occur within a family, we understand that it may be a tough, stressful and emotional ordeal for all the concerned parties therefore we will encourage our clients to reach an agreement where possible

Generally we will encourage our clients to come to an agreement where possible through the appropriateness of mediation or negotiation prior to approaching the Court. Since this is a more collaborative approach, we deem that this will be the more suitable option, as it will provide the opportunity for our clients to preserve their remaining domestic relationship with their counterpart.

When should you make an application for a Contact Order?

In a situation where a child lives with one parent, a contact order may be necessary in order to allow the child to contact, visit or ‘temporarily’ stay with the other parent, the order will also stipulate how often this can take place for. This is necessary in circumstances where there is a disagreement between the parents in regards arrangement such as to who the child should have communication and contact with.

What is different about a Residence Order?

A residence order is a court order which specifies with which parent the child will ‘permanently’ live. The order will take effect until the child reaches the age of 16 years unless there are exceptional circumstances that warrant an extension, in which case the order will only expire once the child attains the age of 18.

What happens in Care Proceedings?

The council/local authority can commence ‘care proceedings’ if they are concerned about the wellbeing of your child. Unless the level of risk requires the courts to get involved immediately, Care Proceedings will generally only commence after extensive efforts have been made in order to keep the child with their family.

In the event where there has been no progression with the efforts made, the council can apply for a ‘Care Order’. This means the council will have parental responsibility for your child and can determine where your child can live.

Dealing with the breakdown of a relationship can be a stressful and sensitive period and it may not always possible to reach an amicable solution. For this reason, Westbrook Law assures that its Solicitors will employ their expertise to usher you through the legal process, making it as trouble-free and straightforward as possible while ensuring that your best interest and financial position are safeguarded.

Once you have made the decision to legally discontinue your marriage, one of the biggest questions that arises is which approach to use in moving forward with the arrangements. There are a range of options available, which we can assist you with when deciding the most suitable option.

When would you need to seek a Financial Order?

If you deem that negotiations with your spouse/ former spouse do not seem to be making any progress or if you cannot reach an agreement on finances then you might consider applying to court for a financial settlement.

You can apply for a financial order if you want, for example:

  • a lump sum payment
  • ownership of a property
  • regular maintenance payments to help with children or living expenses
  • a share of your partner’s pension payments.

What are the benefits of pursuing a Non- Molestation Order?

A Non-Molestation Order is a specific type of ‘Restraining Order’. It is an interim Court Order issued to ‘restrain’ an individual from carrying out a particular action.

If for instance your spouse/ former spouse is using or threatening violence against you or your child, intimidating or harassing you, you can make an application for a Non- Molestation Order to ensure the health, safety and well being of yourself and your child.

What is an Occupation Order?

An Occupation Order is a short term measure issued by the court which sets out who has the right to stay, return or be excluded from the matrimonial/family home, the Order can also set out which parts of a home can be used by whom.