When parents separate it is an extremely difficult time for most people. The addition of children can make things even more complicated and emotional. It is usually best if the parents can work out arrangements between themselves, but if this is not possible you need an understanding family lawyer able to work with you to find the best solution for your children . 

Where and with whom will our children live after we divorce or, if we were not married, after we separate?

Each case will depend on its own facts. In general however the children will live with one parent, usually the previous primary carer, and be entitled to see the other parent. Shared care arrangements are also possible. Such matters can be agreed between the parents, although in the absence of agreement the court can make orders.

If the children are old enough then the court can take into account their wishes and feelings when deciding with which parent the children should live. In some cases, a shared care arrangement may be appropriate.

How often will I see my children?

This will depend on the circumstances of you, the other parent and the children. However, if the children do not live with you then an arrangement involving alternate weekends and holidays is common.

How do our children affect finances?

The parent with whom the children live can expect the other parent to pay maintenance towards the children, providing the other parent is working. In the absence of agreement a referral will need to be made to the Child Maintenance Service.

How can we help with these issues?

Our lawyers deal with these issues every day. We are experienced at helping parents through this difficult area and understand the emotional, financial and legal implications of children in divorce and separation.

We are not married, do we have to marry to protect ourselves in issues concerning the children?

Not necessarily. There are various documents that can be created in order to make sure that you have the necessary legal rights without having to marry. For example, you could make a Will and sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement. We are able to help you with all of these documents.

What rights do unmarried couples have regarding their children?

More couples are becoming parents without making any legal commitment to each other as partners. Being unmarried will mean that a father will have no automatic rights as a parent - he will have to take action to acquire those rights.

The father needs to make sure that he is either on the birth certificate or ensure that a Parental Responsibility agreement has been signed. Otherwise he does not have the right to make important decisions for his child, for example about medical issues or education. However, he may still be liable to pay child support.

We can arrange a Parental Responsibility agreement in order to make sure that both parents have rights regarding their child.