Children’s law can be very complex; here we have tried to answer some of the frequently asked questions on child law matters.
Can my ex make me pay via the CMS even if they won’t let me see my child?
Ultimately, yes. The obligation that the law places upon absent parents to provide for their children is not dependent how often they see them. The only bearing the amount of time spent with the child in question has upon the payment of child maintenance is on the amount paid. The CMS cannot absolve the responsibility you have to maintain your child/children just because your ex is refusing you any contact.
You may find it useful to visit the CMS website. It features a child maintenance calculator to work out how much you should be paying.
How long can a parent stay abroad for with their child without consent?
If there is a child arrangements order in force (previously known as residence orders) with respect to a child, a parent cannot relocate the child from the Court’s jurisdiction (England and Wales) without the consent of every person with parental responsibility, or without leave of the Court.
Subject to there being no breach of an order regarding contact, a parent with whom the child lives can, however, remove the child/children from the country for up to one month, without the requirement to obtain consent. This enables parents to take their children on holiday.
Any parent intending to relocate must first seek the consent of the other parent. If consent is not given, they should seek an order from the court and not move until such time that the matter has been determined by the court. If the other parent has reason to believe there will a relocation, they can seek a prohibited steps order which can prevent the removal, again until such that that the matter can be determined by the court.
In considering relocation, the child’s best interests will be paramount. Seek legal advice.
Will child maintenance payments stop if I remarry?
Child maintenance is a payment made by the none resident parent for their child(ren). These payments are not made for the ex-partner and, as such, your relationship status has absolutely no bearing on the continuance of the payments. If you have any questions, you can consult the CMS website or call them directly.
If I get divorced will my children’s premium bonds be classed as assets?
Generally speaking, no. It will be essential to evidence these are in the children’s names and that you have no interest in them.
Bonds usually have an insignificant value and are set up for the benefit of the child/children. However, if there are not enough assets to cover the needs of the parties, the Courts possess the power to be able to ‘dip in’ to the children’s bonds. But if the bonds have been set up as a mechanism for the children’s saving with no alternate intention, it remains unlikely that this will be the case.
As I have a child under 16 do I have to be separated for 2 years before I can get a divorce?
The age of your children has no impact on proving the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, which is the only ground for divorce. You must then rely upon one of five factors. A solicitor can advise on the relevant factors to your matter dependent upon the circumstances of your case.
If I’m directed to attend at Court by my ex partner’s solicitor regarding children, do I have to go?
If your attendance has been required at Court and you do not attend, the Court can make an appropriate Order in your absence, unless you can reasonably justify your nonattendance in advance and seek an adjournment.
Furthermore, it is recommended that you seek to instruct a specialist family lawyer to represent you in the proceedings.
If one parent gets a non-molestation order against the other can they still see the children?
Even when a Non-Molestation Order is made against a parent, it is possible to still see your children. However, this is dependent upon the nature of the allegations being raised. If it suggested that there are any safeguarding concerns to the children, the court has a responsibility to protect the children until findings have been determined one way or the other. At an interim stage, it may limit contact to being supervised. In the absence of suitable supervision, it may prevent contact at that stage.
You should therefore immediately seek advice before accepting any non-molestation order or entering into any undertakings.
I got a letter from a solicitor about an ex-partner wanting to see our child more. Should I ignore it?
It is never advisable to ignore a letter from a solicitor, as ignoring correspondence can result in unnecessary proceedings being issued.
Solicitors’ letters are often geared towards reaching an agreement between the parties without the need for the Court to become involved. If you receive one it is important that you seek independent legal advice from a family law solicitor before proceeding.
If you do not reply, they are likely to initiate mediation. If you fail to engage then ultimately they will need to issue proceedings.
Do we have to take the child to Court for the first appointment?
No. During children proceedings, there is no duty to take the child to the first appointment, or any other hearings for that matter. In fact, it is advised that children are not brought to court. It is not a nice environment for a child and can cause them to feel conflicted seeing their parents in that setting.
Can I give limited access for my children to see my ex’s new partner?
The Courts would be extremely reluctant to prevent a child having contact with their parents’ new partners in most cases. While child arrangement orders can be made by the Court with any number of conditions attached, there would need to be an extremely good reason for contact between the child and the new partner to be limited. One such reason would be if the new partner posed a risk to the children.
Safeguarding checks can be undertaken if concern is raised. It is also common to agree a reasonable period of time before introductions to any new partner.