It is of course natural that when parents separate they will both want to spend as much time as possible with their children. This can often lead to situations in which one parent believes that the children should spend most of their time with them, and the other parent insists that the children should spend equal time with each parent.

So when are the courts prepared to make shared care orders?

Before we answer that, a note on terminology.

A shared care order is actually a type of child arrangements order. A child arrangements order specifies “with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and … when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person”. Technically, therefore, when we talk of shared care orders, we are actually referring to shared ‘live with’ orders.

Note that this does not necessarily mean equal sharing time between each parent. It just means that the child spends substantial time living with each parent.

Note also that an order that a shared care order is not required to acquire equal status with the other parent, as some parents assume. A parent with a ‘lives with’ order and a parent with a ‘spends time with’ order (i.e. a contact order) have equal parental responsibility, assuming that they already both have parental responsibility, as is usually the case.

Shared parenting presumption

What the law does however state is that when a court considers arrangements for a child it should presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of both parents in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare. This is known as the ‘shared parenting presumption’.

Once again, however, the presumption does not mean that the child should spend equal amounts of time with each parent, just that each parent should play as full a role in the child’s life as the court thinks appropriate.

Considerations for the court

Obviously, there are practical matters to consider before making a shared care order. Both parents must have suitable accommodation, in particular sleeping accommodation, and must not live too far from the child’s school.

Otherwise, it really just boils down to what is best for the welfare of the child, as in every case concerning child arrangements. In deciding what is best for the child’s welfare the court will consider the ‘welfare checklist’, as explained in this post.

It used to be considered that shared care orders were only appropriate if the parents remained on good terms with one another, as shared care can require greater cooperation between the parents. However, it is no longer considered that this should be a requirement for shared care, and such orders are now made even in cases where the parents no longer have a good relationship with one another provided, of course, that the court thinks that this would be best for the child.

The last thing to say is that there is nothing special about equal shared care, whereby the child spends exactly half of its time with each parent. The court will not be specifically seeking to achieve this where it thinks shared care is appropriate and, indeed, equal time orders are comparatively rare. As always, the exact time the child should spend living with each parent is determined by reference to what is best for the child’s welfare.

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If you are considering seeking a shared care order then we would recommend that you seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such an expert – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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If there’s one truism about the law, it’s that a court order is worthless if it can’t be enforced.

Getting a contact order (that is, a child arrangements order providing for you to have contact with your child) may involve a considerable expenditure of time, stress, and expense. But getting the order may not be the end of the story. You must also be prepared to enforce the order, if the other parent does not comply with it.

So how do you go about enforcing a contact order?

Well, there are a number of options, but the system can be quite confusing, as the court will not necessarily take the enforcement option you request. We will therefore keep things simple, by setting out the main options that the court has on any application to enforce.

The first thing to say is that before it takes any enforcement action the court will take a number of steps, including ascertaining the facts, considering the reasons for any non-compliance with the contact order, and considering the welfare checklist, as explained in this post.

The things that the court can do when it hears an enforcement application include the following:

1. Refer the parents to a Separated Parents Information Programme (‘SPIP’). A SPIP is a course which helps the parents understand how to put their children first while they are separating, including helping parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties.

2. Vary the child arrangements order, which could include a more defined order and/or reconsidering the contact provision or the living arrangements of the child.

3. Make a contact enforcement order. This is an order imposing an ‘unpaid work requirement’ on the person in breach of the contact order. The enforcement order will mean the person has to do between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work, monitored by the probation service.

4. Make an order for compensation for financial loss, where the person seeking to enforce the order has suffered financial loss as a result of the failure to comply with the contact order, for example, where the cost of a holiday has been lost as a result of a contact order being broken.

5. Fine the person in breach of the contact order.

6. Lastly, the court can make an order committing the person in breach of the order to prison, although this is unusual, and such an order would normally only be made as a last resort, following several blatant breaches of the order

If you are considering applying to a court to enforce a contact order then we can put you in touch with an expert family lawyer to assist you in making the application. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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There are many misconceptions about what is relevant when the court considers what order or orders to make in relation to a child, and having such a misconception can obviously be damaging to a parent’s case.

It is therefore important to know what factors the court takes into account before making a decision. The factors are set out in what is known as the ‘Welfare Checklist’.

The paramount consideration when a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child is the child’s welfare, and in deciding how the child’s welfare is best served the court will have regard to all of the circumstances of the case, in particular the factors set out in the Checklist.

Those factors are as follows:

1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned. These are considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding, thus they are unlikely to be given much weight by the court if the child is very young. However, as the child get older they will be given greater weight, so that with a much older child their wishes could even be decisive.

2. The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. This really refers to any special needs that the child may have, rather than their general needs. Examples might be special health needs, or special educational needs.

3. The likely effect on the child of any change in his or her circumstances. This can be an important factor if the court is considering the possibility of the child moving to live with the other parent, or re-introducing contact between the child and a parent, after a long period when there was no contact.

4. The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his or hers which the court considers relevant. Note, however, that there is no rule that specifies that a child of a certain age or sex should live with one particular parent.

5. Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering – clearly, the court will take into account any harm that a child has suffered at the hands of one parent, or the risk of any such harm occurring in future. Thus, for example, the court might order that any contact between the child and the parent be supervised initially, to minimise the risk of harm.

6. How capable each of the parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs. This is only rarely likely to be relevant, and certainly does not imply any bias towards either mothers or father, but there may be cases in which there may be questions over the capability of a parent.

7. Lastly, the court must consider the range of different types of order available to the court in the proceedings in question. We will not go through the full range of available orders here – suffice to say that the court can make any order that it considers to be appropriate. In particular, it should be noted that the court is not limited to making just the types of order(s) that the parents have applied for.

In addition to the above, the court should also presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of both parents in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.

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If you are, or may be, involved in a children case then we would recommend that you seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such an expert – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The legal world is changing, perhaps more quickly than ever in history. Ways of doing things, written in stone for decades, if not centuries, are being swept away.

The Covid 19 pandemic may have accelerated them, but these changes have been underway for some time, and are surely inevitable.

We are talking about the move towards conducting family law work online. We are seeing this in particular with remote court hearings due to the pandemic, but before the pandemic there was already a move towards making applications to the court online.

Until recently if you wanted to make an application to the court you had to do so on paper. You then either had to go to the court to issue it, or you had to post it to the court. All of which involved unnecessary work and delay – for example, if the court was not happy with the paperwork, it would post it back to the sender, the sender would have to amend it, and then return it to the court.

Now the age of paper applications is coming to an end. One of the latest manifestations of this is the online child arrangements application.

Back in February the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts & Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’) launched a new online service enabling parents and their legal representatives to apply to the court digitally to make child arrangements.

The new service is more convenient, faster and avoids many of the errors or omissions that paper applications used to contain, by picking them up during the online process. When it was launched Richard Goodman, HMCTS Change Director commented:

“For parents, it can often be a stressful, challenging time when trying to arrange visits to see children and this system is designed to make that process as straightforward as possible.

“As the court reform programme progresses, we will continue introduce services that make the justice system easier to navigate and more efficient for all those that use it.”

It is already possible to issue divorce proceedings online, and soon almost all family law business will be conducted online (although many hearings will take place in court buildings again, once the pandemic is over).

All of this of course fits in perfectly with Family Law Cafés vision of how family business should be conducted in the twenty-first century. There is no reason now why family law litigants should be required to physically contact their lawyers every time they need information or advice regarding their case, or to rely on the postal service when they wish to take a step in the proceedings.

The modern way to conduct a family law case is online, from wherever you are, whenever you wish.

If you require advice regarding sorting out arrangements for children, Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert family lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Café offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Parental relationship breakdown can obviously lead to problems in relation to contact between children and (one of their) parents. But it can also create a rift between the children and their grandparents, particularly on the side of the parent with whom the children are not living.

What rights do grandparents have in such a situation?

Well, firstly it is not appropriate to talk of ‘rights’. A grandparent (and even a parent) does not have ‘rights’ in relation to the (grand)child. It is all a question of what is best for the children, as we will explain in a moment.

But grandparents are not in the same position as parents. Before they can apply to a court for an order allowing them to have contact with their grandchildren, they must first obtain the leave (or permission) of the court to make the application.

When deciding whether to grant leave the court must have regard in particular to two matters:

1. The grandparent’s connection with the child. This means that a grandparent who has had a close relationship with the child is more likely to be granted leave; and

2. Any risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that the child would be harmed by it. This could, for example, mean that a serious rift between the grandparent and (one of) the parents could be a factor, but it really boils down to the issue of the child’s welfare.

These matters may give the impression that many grandparents will be refused leave to apply for contact with their grandchildren. However, that is not the case. It is actually quite rare for a leave application to be refused.

Once leave has been obtained the grandparent can proceed with their application for a contact order. As indicated above, the court will decide what contact to order, if any, by reference to what is best for the welfare of the child.

In most cases the court will consider that the welfare of the child will be best served by the child continuing to have a relationship with their grandparents. Accordingly, most applications by grandparents are successful, although obviously one would expect the amount of contact ordered to be less, or less frequent, than the contact that might be ordered in favour of a parent.

If you are a grandparent seeking contact with a grandchild then we can put you in touch with an expert family lawyer to assist you in making an application. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The Family Court has a range of orders available to it when deciding what arrangements should be made for a child. Most of these orders are fairly self-explanatory, but there is one in particular that gives rise to considerable confusion: the special guardianship order.

So what exactly is a special guardianship order, and what does it do?

Special guardianship orders are for situations when it is not possible or appropriate for the child to reside with its parents, or one of them. They are therefore made in favour of other relatives, or people who are not related to the child at all.

In such situations the court has a number of options: for example, it could make an adoption order, or a child arrangements order, regulating arrangements relating to with whom the child should live.

But sometimes something else is appropriate. An adoption order may be too final, shutting the parents out of the child’s life. And a child arrangements order may not give the person with whom the child is living sufficient ‘independence’ from the parents, who would still have a say in all decisions relating to the child.

Note the reference to with whom the child is living. Special guardianship orders are often made in favour of someone with whom the child is already living, such as a relative or foster carer. They can also be made in favour of others, including any guardian of the child, anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child, and anyone who has been given permission by the court to apply for a special guardianship order.

So what is the effect of a special guardianship order?

Firstly, the child will live permanently with the special guardian, although they will normally retain a relationship with their birth family, including having regular contact with their parents.

Secondly, the special guardian will have parental responsibility for the child. The child’s parents will continue to have parental responsibility, but it will be limited, meaning that the special guardian will be able to take many decisions relating to the child, without needing the approval of the parents (unlike the situation where a child arrangements order is made).

Thirdly, the special guardian will have an additional ‘protection’ in that whereas if a child arrangements order were made then the child’s parents could apply as of right to vary or discharge that order, when a special guardianship order is made the parent must first obtain the leave of the court before making any such application.

In short, an order gives the special guardian a status in relation to the child that is greater than a child arrangements order, without severing the child’s links to the parents, as an adoption order would do.

Special guardianship orders usually last until the child is 18 years old.

Obviously, this is just a very brief overview of the law on special guardianship. If you are considering applying for a special guardianship order then you should seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such an expert – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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As any Family Law Café customer will know, technology can be a blessing, reducing the stress involved in family disputes, by ensuring that you can request answers to questions and have access to documents, whenever you wish, and wherever you are.

But technology can also be a curse if its user is not careful, as a High Court judge recently discovered.

Mrs Justice Judd was dealing with a very sad child care case in which the child’s brother had died after suffering a catastrophic head injury. A fact-finding hearing was fixed, for the court to decide who, if anyone, was responsible for the injury.

The hearing was a ‘hybrid’ one, as are many hearings during the pandemic, taking place with some parties in court and other parties taking part remotely, via video link.

The child’s mother appeared in court. In the course of her evidence she complained of feeling unwell, on one day with back pain and blurred vision, and on the next day she said she had developed a cough. The hearing was stopped, and the mother allowed to go home.

The judge then returned to her room, and her laptop was brought to her. The judge then had a conversation with her clerk on the telephone, in which she made pejorative remarks about the mother, suggesting she was feigning illness to avoid answering difficult questions.

Unfortunately, the conversation was heard by the parties who had been taking part in the hearing remotely, as the video link on the laptop was still open.

The mother asked Mrs Justice Judd to recuse (i.e. excuse) herself from the case on the basis of bias. However, Mrs Justice Judd refused. The mother appealed against that decision.

The Court of Appeal allowed the mother’s appeal, finding that Mrs Justice Judd’s remarks about the mother would lead a fair minded observer to conclude that there was a real possibility that she was biased.

Accordingly, the case was remitted back for rehearing, before a different judge.

The case is obviously an example of when a judge should recuse themselves for possible bias, but it also has a moral for all of us: when using technology, make sure that anything that is private or confidential remains just that. Whatever technology you use for such matters should be kept secure, and if necessary password-protected. And remember to log out of secure sites like ours when you have finished using them!

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The Ministry of Justice has announced a ‘major overhaul’ of how the family courts deal with domestic abuse.

The overhaul is in response to a report by a panel of experts which looked at the risk of harm to children and parents in cases involving disputes between parents about the arrangements for their children. The panel raised concerns that victims of domestic abuse and children were being put at unnecessary risk.

The new measures announced by the Ministry included:

– Giving an automatic entitlement for special measures in the courtroom for victims of domestic abuse going through the family courts, such as separate waiting rooms, separate building entrances and protective screens to shield them from their alleged abuser in court.

– Giving judges stronger powers to prevent abusers repeatedly dragging a victim back to court over child arrangements.

– Trialling an investigative, problem-solving approach in private family law proceedings, in order to reduce conflict. This could see judges decide what evidence to investigate, rather than both parties presenting their cases against each other.

– Reviewing the presumption of ‘parental involvement’ and whether the right balance is struck between the risk of harm to children and victims, with the right of the child to have a relationship with both parents.

Commenting on the measures Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales said:

“This panel of experts has dug deep to understand, and address, the serious harm to domestic abuse victims and their children caused over many years by the presumption of contact, and the intensely adversarial process present in the family courts.

“With children’s voices rarely heard in these proceeding and even more rarely heeded, victims and children are in need of better protections from abusive perpetrators.

“I welcome the report, its recommendations, and the implementation plan which will help to address these, and other concerns. It has my full support. And I call on the government to action this as a matter of urgency.”

You can read the report here.

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If you would like to know more about protecting yourself from domestic violence and abuse, Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert family lawyer – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Surge in cases

It has been reported that lawyers have been inundated with inquiries from separated parents arguing about where their children should stay during the Coronavirus lockdown. The report suggests, amongst other things, that some parents are using the lockdown as an excuse to stop the other parent from seeing their children, citing the risk of the children catching the virus as a reason.

So what can you do if the other parent is stopping you from seeing your children, in breach of a contact order (i.e. a child arrangements order specifying when your children are to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with you)?

Well, there are a number of ways to enforce a contact order. However, before we look at some of them, we should make a couple of points.

Initial considerations

Obviously, enforcing a contact order involves taking your case back to the court and asking the court to enforce the order. The family courts are still operating under the lockdown, but unfortunately the lockdown and social distancing rules are having a serious effect upon the amount of cases that the courts can deal with. You may therefore have to wait considerably longer than usual for your case to be heard, and this situation is likely to last for some time to come.

The second point is that, as we mentioned here recently, the President of the Family Division has specifically stated that where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements set out in a child arrangements order, but one parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the arrangements would be against current public health advice, then that parent may vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe. However, that parent must bear in mind that if the case subsequently goes back to court the court is likely to look to see whether they acted reasonably and sensibly, in the light of official advice.

Enforcement methods

If you ask the court to enforce the contact order the court will want to know why the order has not been complied with, and may considering varying the terms of the order to ensure future compliance. This may also involve reconsidering the children’s living arrangements.

Otherwise, if there is no good reason why the other parent has not complied with the order then the court can take various actions, including:

1. Making an enforcement order, requiring the parent in breach of the contact order to do between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work.

2. Making an order requiring the parent in breach to compensate you for any financial loss you have suffered as a result of the breach.

3. Imposing a fine on the parent in breach of the contact order.

4. Lastly, in the most serious cases, the court can commit the parent in breach to prison for contempt of court.

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Obviously, the above is just a very brief outline of the law. For further advice in relation to your own circumstances, including how to go about applying for enforcement, you should consult an expert family lawyer, before taking any action. Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert – call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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The Coronavirus pandemic has imposed major restrictions upon our movements. The UK is now in ‘lockdown’, with most people being restricted to their own homes, save for certain limited purposes. Even when we do leave our homes, we must adopt ‘social distancing’, keeping at least two metres away from anyone not from our own household.

But what if you are separated from the other parent of your children? We already know that in such cases children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes, but how exactly might the lockdown affect your child arrangements?

Child arrangements come in many forms, and exactly what type of arrangement you have will dictate how it will be affected. We have therefore divided child arrangements into five broad categories, as set out below.

However, before we look at those categories, here are three basic principles, as set out in guidance published last week by the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane:

1. The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.

2. Where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements set out in a child arrangements order, but one parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the arrangements would be against current public health advice, then that parent may vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe.

3. Where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child, for example remote contact via telephone or Skype.

Shared care, including holiday arrangements

This is where your child spends substantial amounts of their time with each parent.

Obviously, any change in such arrangements could have a significant effect upon the child, and should therefore be considered very carefully. Try to agree arrangements with the other parent, and if you have to act unilaterally then bear in mind that you may ultimately have to explain your actions to the Family Court.

Many child arrangements orders include provision for the child to spend longer periods of time with a parent during school holidays. However, schools are of course now closed, and there are therefore no school holidays. In such circumstances it may be best to suspend school holiday arrangements.

Overnight contact

This is where the child spends most of their time with one parent but has overnight, or ‘staying’, contact with the other parent, for example one or two nights a week.

For the purposes of Coronavirus, the situation here is really very similar to shared care, and the same principles therefore apply.

Visiting contact

This is where the contact takes place during the daytime only.

If the visiting contact involves going to the other parent’s home, then again similar principles apply to those above, although any alteration in the arrangements may not have such serious implications for the child.

However, some visiting contact takes place outside the other parent’s home, for example taking the child to the park, or to some other public place. Obviously, the present restrictions upon movement may affect those arrangements.

Supervised contact, including at a contact centre

Sometimes contact has to be supervised by a third party, for example when it takes place at a contact centre. Obviously, this may not currently be possible, if the supervisor is not available. The National Association of Child Contact Centres reports that the Coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on the availability of some but not all child contact centres. For more information, see here.

Indirect contact

Contact need not of course be direct between parent and child. It can be indirect, for example by telephone, Skype, email, messaging or plain old letters and cards.

Here of course there is some good news: indirect contact is virtually unaffected by the Coronavirus. In fact, it should be encouraged, especially where direct contact is stopped or restricted.

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Obviously, the above just sets out some general principles and guidance. For further advice in relation to your own circumstances, you should consult an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with an expert – call us on 020 3904 0506, or click the ‘Sign up’ button at the top of the page, and fill in the form.

You can read the President’s guidance here.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Everyone is of course seriously concerned about the Coronavirus, and the restrictions that it is putting upon our lives. But what if you are contemplating divorce proceedings, or are in the midst of existing proceedings. How will the virus and the Government’s response to it affect you?

We are still here for you

Family Law Café continues to provide a full service, and we intend to do so for the duration of this emergency.

If you are an existing client then you can contact us as usual.

We are still taking on new clients, who can get in touch with us as outlined below.

And our service is online, so you can access it without having to leave your home. For further details of how our service works, see this post.

Expect delays

The courts are continuing to function. However, court hearings are now being conducted remotely, where possible.

In view of this, and possible court staff shortages as a result of the virus and the measures taken in response to it, you can expect cases to take longer.

Divorce proceedings can proceed entirely online, unless they are defended.

Children arrangements

Obviously, the restrictions upon movement will affect children arrangements between separated parents. The Government has, however, made clear that where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

Of course, special care will need to be taken, and in some cases existing arrangements may have to be suspended. If you cannot agree matters with your (former) spouse, then you should seek legal advice. The President of the Family Division has issued guidance on compliance with child arrangements orders, which can be found here.

Financial remedies

You should also seek advice if you are concerned about the effect of the reduction in value of assets as a result of the financial instability caused by the virus.

Settlements that have not been finalised will normally take into account the current value of assets.

It is possible that settlements that have recently been finalised could be reopened, if there has been a significant change in the value of assets. However, this would be unusual – if you think it may apply to you, you should seek urgent legal advice.

Get in touch

For further information and advice upon any of the above matters, contact us. If you are a new client, call us on 02 03 9 04 05 06, or click the ‘Sign up’ button at the top of the page, and complete the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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Divorces are taking longer than at any time since December 2014, when the Ministry of Justice began publishing quarterly Family Court statistics.

The latest statistics, for the quarter April to June 2019, show that for those granted Decree Nisi in that period, the mean average time from the date of the divorce petition was 33 weeks, up 5 weeks from the same period in 2018, and the mean time from the petition to Decree Absolute was 58 weeks, up 3 weeks compared to the same period in 2018.

The statistics also show a decrease in the number of divorce petitions issued. There were 28,144 divorce petitions issued between April and June 2019, down 13% from the same quarter in 2018. Financial remedy applications also decreased by 5%, but private law children applications (primarily for child arrangements orders) increased by 3% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2018.

Private law children applications are also taking longer. In April to June 2019, it took on average 28 weeks for private law cases to reach a final order, up 3 weeks from the same period in 2018.

Elsewhere, other statistics published by the Ministry of Justice revealed that more family cases are being resolved by mediation. In the quarter April to June 2019 mediation starts increased by 22% and outcomes increased by 13%, compared to the same period last year.

You can find the Family Court statistics here.

If you would like advice about taking divorce proceedings, Family Law Café can help. To book a free initial consultation with us click the green button at the top of this page and fill in the form, or call us on 020 3904 0506.

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Family Law Cafe surrounds and supports the customer with both legal and pastoral care, end to end, from top barristers to case workers to therapists and mediators, to help the customer get the best possible result with the minimum stress.

Image: Calendar, by Dafne Cholet, licensed under CC BY 2.0.