Sadly, despite the jolly associations, Christmas is also the season of divorce and separation. Perhaps it is the enforced merriment or long days spent in the company of their nearest and dearest that makes people reassess fracturing relationships or decide that the proverbial straw has descended onto the camel’s back.
Whatever the cause, many solicitors specialising in divorce report a surge in demand for their services over the Christmas period. If you fear that you could be among this number, there are several matters to consider, particularly if you have dependent children.
As leading men’s divorce lawyers, Cordell & Cordell is keen to offer advice around divorce, separation and children to help you through the seasonal period.
It is natural for both parents to be concerned about where their children will live after a separation or divorce and how much contact each parent will have with them. Historically, it was assumed that children would remain with their mothers, while the father had contact rights.
This state of affairs is beginning to change as the law comes to recognise the need for children to maintain a close relationship with both parents whenever it is safe for them to do so. Consequently, family law solicitors, who have always been accustomed to answering questions such as what rights fathers have, are now more likely to be able to help a client present a compelling case for contact that goes beyond the traditional weekend arrangement.
Where will the children live?
In lay terms, the question of residency refers to who has custody of any children after a separation or divorce. Sometimes, the parties can agree this between themselves, perhaps with the help of mediation.
If they cannot do so, a court will make an order and this is binding on both parties. It can only be altered by returning to court. Disputes may occur because both parties want sole custody, but child custody laws emphasise that the needs of the child are paramount.
Consequently, a judge will consider the situation from the perspective of what is best for the child. Joint custody, properly called shared residence, is increasingly common and has the aim of allowing children to spend more equal amounts of time with each parent. It does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split, although this is sometimes the case.
What about child maintenance?
Sometimes also known as child support, this is money that is paid for a child’s day-to-day living expenses.
The precise amount can be the subject of a court order or the parties can agree it between themselves, perhaps with the help of an online child maintenance calculator. The money is normally paid to the parent who has a residence order by the other parent. In cases where residency is split, the amount payable can be adjusted (by the court, if the parties cannot agree between themselves) to reflect the expenditure of each party. Where there is a 50/50 residency split, there may be no maintenance payable.
If you would like to find out more about child maintenance costs, you can view Cordell & Cordell’s bespoke child maintenance calculator here.
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If you would like to speak to a family law solicitor or have a question about divorce, contact Cordell & Cordell today for an initial consultation.