Category

Children

custody family solicitor in meeting with couple

When to Consult A Child Custody Solicitor

By | Children

In the event of a separation or divorce from your partner, an important consideration is determining who will have custody over your children. This is never an easy decision to have to make and it can be a very tricky time. Custody matters can result in emotional and logistical challenges for all parties involved, but by consulting a custody solicitor at the right time, you can protect the interests of your children and both adults involved. Here, we take a look at when to consult a solicitor for custody matters. 

Understanding custody matters

If you have never had to navigate custody law before, you could initially be confused by how it works. However, you can quickly get to grips with not only technical terms attached to this legislation but also how it can help you to resolve your custody dilemma.

Definitions and types

Physical custody refers to the child’s physical day-to-day living environment. The child may permanently live with one parent but still receive visits from the other parent.

Meanwhile, legal custody concerns the child’s upbringing — including matters relating to education and healthcare.

With sole custody, one parent is given primary responsibility for caring for and controlling the child. Conversely, joint custody sees the two parents making collective decisions about crucial aspects of the child’s life.

General legal framework

If you are unable to reach a custody agreement, the court can intervene, making a ruling in line with the basic legal principle that the child’s welfare is paramount.

Key situations necessitating a solicitor

How can you tell when you actually need a custody solicitor? Here are several scenarios where this professional’s input can play a major part in preventing legal issues from arising.

Initial custody agreement

Even if the divorce is amicable, it is wise for you to ask a solicitor to help you draft an initial custody agreement so that you can ensure it is comprehensive and legally watertight.

Changes in circumstances

There may come a time when substantial life changes take place. For instance, should you, being the sole custodial parent of your child, experience major shifts like moving to a new place or altering your career path, these changes could sometimes negatively impact your child.

Dispute resolution

What if the other parent disputes existing custody agreements or visitation rights? If you fail to resolve this disagreement through direct negotiation with the other party, it would be crucial to seek legal counsel in the form of mediation or court intervention. 

Enforcement issues

If one parent violates the custody agreement, the other parent can ask the court for legal recourse. The infringing parent could be warned and/or fined, or even held in contempt of court.

Complex or unusual cases

Some custody obstacles are much easier to overcome than others. For example, one partner could move overseas shortly after the separation, or be unwilling to compromise on specific details of the proposed custody arrangements. In such scenarios, specialised legal advice would be imperative. 

Benefits of consulting a solicitor

There might be situations where you don’t strictly ‘need’ a solicitor’s thoughts. However, by heeding them nonetheless, you can tap into the following benefits — and take a lot of pain out of what could have otherwise proved an arduous and cumbersome process.

Expert guidance

You can trust a custody solicitor to take your specific circumstances into account before providing you with expert advice tailored to suit, safeguarding your rights and interests as a result.

Mediation and negotiation

If you and the other parent are struggling to agree on custody arrangements, we encourage you to pursue such dispute resolution methods as mediation before involving a court in custody decisions.

As part of the mediation process, a solicitor can act as a neutral third party facilitating constructive discussion between the parents as they endeavour to keep the child’s best interests close to heart.

Legal representation

Despite your best efforts, custody matters could still escalate to litigation. If this does happen, you must be represented in court by a legal professional with specialist expertise in family law

A solicitor will be able to argue your case to the court — and help you secure the best outcome for your child. 

Preparing to consult a solicitor

So, you have decided to get in touch with a solicitor. By initially meeting up with them in person, you will have the time to speak at length about your situation. However, it’s important to prepare for this consultation carefully so that you can make the most of it. 

What to bring

By phoning our team on 024 7638 2343, you can learn how to arrange an initial consultation with a custody solicitor

In preparation for this meeting, remember to gather evidence of your income, documentation of any existing custody agreements, and details of communication with the other parent.

Questions to ask

At the consultation, you can deepen your understanding of the legal process by asking us about the outcomes it could bring and the costs that would be involved. We are committed to putting your mind at rest.

You are also welcome to ask us questions in advance by emailing enquiries@bromfieldlegal.co.uk.

handing key over

Can I put my child’s name on my house deeds?

By | Children

Adding your child’s name to the deeds of your house is a decision which should take some consideration. There are some recurring factors as to why people choose to add their child’s name to a property. 

 

These usually include setting up their child financially, protecting their assets from being hit with hefty tax bills or protecting their child’s inheritance from a new spouse or family arrangement. 

 

It’s important to understand how putting your child’s name on the deeds can lead to uncomfortable implications. With that said, adding your child to the deeds may be the ideal solution for your particular circumstance. 

House in hands grey and white with key

You can put your child’s name on your property but that doesn’t mean you should. We’re here to make sure you have the best advice and end up with the right solution for you. 

 

We strongly advise seeking legal advice before you start changing names on the deeds to your property. Talk to one of our solicitors today to start your process on the best footing. 

 

From avoiding the sting inheritance tax to helping your child get on the property ladder, we understand your motivation for adding their name. 

 

In order to add your child’s name to the deeds, you’ll need to transfer a share of equity to them. This needs to be overseen by a solicitor like us at Bromfield Legal. 

 

How do I transfer my child’s name on to the deeds of my house 

 

There are a few steps you’ll have to take to complete this process which are listed below. 

 

  1. Transferring equity by ‘gifting’ the property. 
  2. Getting a solicitor to help with documentation and legal matters. 
  3. Safeguarding yourself and your assets.

 

Gifting your child 50% of the property 

 

We strongly advise you take the option of 50% shared ownership rather than transferring the entire property to your child. To complete this, you will need the deed mottled ‘tenants in common’ Why? Simply because this protects you from 

 

  • They can’t take debts out on the property 
  • They legally can not evict you from the home 
  • If they get married and then divorced, their ex spouse is only entitled to their share of the property – not yours. 

Benefits of adding child’s name to property 

 

You’ll see the benefits which fit some circumstances. Understanding thoroughly how they will service you for the better will help inform your decision. 

 

Getting your child on the property ladder 

 

You’ll be one of many who has recognised the harsh economic climate for first time buyers. Whilst there were multiple government schemes such as help-to-buy and shared ownership with the government with only 5% deposit, these schemes have drawn to a close as of 2021. 

 

Parents who are also property owners are seizing the opportunity to offer their children a shared ownership of the family home. 

 

As mentioned above, this would be carried out by you giving over 50% of the equity of the home to your child. 

Protecting your asset from a new spouse 

 

Modern families come in all shapes and sizes and at Bromfield we are well versed in accommodating all family set ups. Your new partner might come and live with you and you might be thinking now is a good time to safeguard your asset for your children’s sake. 

 

Putting their name on the deed in a 50% shared ownership would certainly do this. If you were to remarry with no prenuptial agreement or financial order in place, your new spouse could only claim the equity in your share of the property if you enter into a divorce

 

Avoiding hefty inheritance tax bills 

 

Inheritance suffers a chunky hit from Inheritance Tax. If your property is valued at more than £325,000, you’ll be looking at 40% tax on your inheritance.  

 

Gifting a property to your child 

 

The timing of ‘Gifting’ to your child should be taken into consideration. If you die between 1-7 years after you have given a gift to your child, the amount will be taxed. 

 

After 7 years the gift amount is no longer taxable. But within the first year if you were to die, the gift is eligible to be taxed 38%. The amount of tax decreased as the years add on. 

boy holding house in orange t shirt

Why you shouldn’t add your child’s name to the deeds of your house

 

Here are some serious considerations as to why you shouldn’t add your child’s name to the house deeds

 

Your child will still have to pay capital gains tax 

Capital Gains Tax is the tax applied to increased profit on a property from the date it was bought to the date it was sold. 

 

If you purchased a property for £200,000 and now it’s worth £550,000, the capital gain is the difference between these two figures – £350,000. This is the amount your child will be taxed on if they sell the property. 

 

Your right to live and stay in the property 

 

Unfortunately, fallouts do occur and you’ll want to know your right as a tenant in the property you’ve handed over. 

 

Transferring 100% of the equity of the property to your child could really leave you in a vulnerable position. 

 

If they sell the house, it is within their right to evict you which of course is an unpleasant experience for anyone. 

Making sure you make the best decision and take the right legal action is what we do best. Get in touch with us at Bromfield Legal and speak to an experienced solicitor about your situation. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Parents sit on sofa looking unhappy with child in the foreground

Child maintenance explained

By | Children, Divorce and Separation

When facing divorce from a partner, finances can become a massive concern, especially when you have children involved. 

Child maintenance comes into play when one of the children’s parents no longer lives with them. 

Arranging child maintenance between you and your ex can improve your child’s overall wellbeing and keep the family relationships in a positive communicative space. That’s why it’s important to get a good grasp on what child maintenance is and how to arrange it. 

 

What is Child Maintenance?

Child maintenance is the regular financial support that helps with day-to-day costs involved with raising children. If your child is under the age of 18 and if they are in full time education lower than A-Level, they are eligible to receive child maintenance. 

Both parents, divorced or separated, are legally responsible for the financial costs of their child. You’ll be wanting your child’s lifestyle and general welfare to continue even with the change in circumstance.

Parents sit on sofa looking unhappy with child in the foreground 

What are the different arrangements for child maintenance?

There are three types of arrangement you can choose from. Your circumstance will ultimately determine which option you go with. 

Family Arrangement

A family arrangement is where the two parties agree on a maintenance arrangement privately outside of the court or a CMS (Child Maintenance Service). It is legal to discuss and agree on an arrangement outside of the court but we always recommend having the agreement put into writing so that both parties are clear of the expectations of the maintenance arrangement and so there are no grey areas. 

Consent Order 

A consent order means a court has ruled the maintenance agreement. A consent order is reached by submitting this form with help from your solicitor. Your solicitor can assist you with filling it correctly. Both parents will have to agree on an amount of maintenance which is fair and justified against the amount of earnings on both sides.

If you’d like advice on how this figure is worked out, get in touch and we’ll discuss what a fair amount should look like for you and your child. 

Both parties will have to consent to the amount so seeking legal advice at this stage could be of great benefit. Speak to one of our highly experienced lawyers at Bromfield today.

Can I write my own consent order?

For the Judge to grant your order, you must have the consent order professionally drafted up by a solicitor. However, you can file a consent order on your own. 

 

Filing a consent order is essentially submitting the initial application. Granting the order means the court has agreed with the application and the consent order must be carried out.  

How much does a consent order cost? 

There are some legal fees you’ll have to foot if you are submitting the consent order. These are 

  • Form submission/ Court fees (£53 approx)
  • Solicitors (can cost anywhere between £700-£2000 approx)
  • Mediators (registered mediators can cost between £100-£170)

piggy bank with stack of coins to the side of it

Child Maintenance Service 

CMS’s are private companies who assist parents without a consent order or family arrangement in place. Child maintenance services also lend themselves to helping those who are struggling to fulfil their agreement or those who are not compliant. 

Fees for using the services of Child Maintenance Service vary depending on the service and provider you use. 

CMS’s offer payment arrangements such as ‘direct pay’ and ‘collect and pay’ on your behalf. 

Explore your options for your child’s maintenance with us at Bromfield Legal 

 

How much child maintenance should I get?

Knowing how much you and your child are entitled to in child maintenance should be at the top of your priority list. Seeking the help and advice of a qualified solicitor could help illuminate any confusion over what you’re entitled to. 

As a standard rate we can see the percentage a parent is expected to pay per child here-

  • One child = 12% of your gross weekly income 
  • Two children = 16% of your gross weekly income 
  • Three or more children = 19% of your gross weekly income 

 

Check out the .gov child maintenance calculator to get a more accurate look at the amount either you or your ex partner should pay. 

My ex isn’t paying child maintenance

You may have taken all the right steps to arrange your consent order for your child’s maintenance with your ex partner but now they won’t or aren’t able to reach the payments. Here are the steps to take to Enforce an Order 

 

 

  • Report the breach. Fill in form C79 to start the application for the court to enforce the child arrangements order. 

 

  • Send to the nearest court to you that deals with cases involving children.

 

  • The cost of submitting this form is £232

 

Need help with this form? Get in touch with our team who are ready to guide you through the process. Let’s start the process together with Bromfield Legal

 

We are proud to offer affordable legal advice and assistance. We appreciate that everyone has different financial situations and fixed fee options are available. Contact us by email or call us on either Nuneaton: 024 7638 2343 or Warwick: 01926 702 702

How long does a child arrangements order last?

By | Children

A child arrangements order legally determines whom a child can live with until 16 years old, except in exceptional circumstances where an order can last until 18. It is an order from the courts and is usually part of the divorce or separation process.

Divorce and separation can be a testing and confusing time for children. They need to be kept in the loop and aware of how much time they will be spending with each parent or guardian. A child arrangements order helps provide stability by laying down some legal ground rules for where a child will reside. Continue reading to learn more about child arrangements orders and how long they last.

What is a child arrangements order?

A child arrangements order can provide you with parental responsibility for a child, even if you don’t happen to be the biological parent. In order to obtain a child arrangements order, you must first apply for a court order granting you permission.

Coming to suitable arrangements for children after going through the emotional rollercoaster of divorce or separation can be a time when everything is up in the air. Try to stay level-headed to put your child’s needs first. Bromfield Legal family solicitors are go-to legal experts for advice on child arrangements orders.

Who can apply for a child arrangements order?

Only certain people in relation to a child will be able to apply for a child arrangements order without first getting the permission of the court. This includes:

  • Parents of a child
  • An appointed guardian or special guardian
  • A person already engaged in an order currently in force
  • Any person involved in a marriage, for example, step-parents
  • Any person a child has lived with for more than 3 years
  • A person who receives the consent of each person with an existing child arrangements order agreement in place
  • A person who receives the consent of the local authority in charge of a child’s care
  • A court has already awarded you with parental responsibilities
  • Foster parents who have lived with a child for at least 1 year prior to the application for an order
  • A family relative of a child who has lived with them for at least 1 year

single parent walking a child

If you don’t fall into any of these criteria, then you will be required to seek leave and ask permission from a court to apply for a child arrangements order. Keep in mind that putting yourself forward does not mean you will be successful with an application.

The court will decide whether or not to grant you an order based on factors such as:

  • The nature of the application for the order
  • The applicant’s connection and relationship to the child
  • Considering whether the order application will be disruptive to the child’s life or put them at risk in any way
  • The wishes and future plans of a child and their parents where a local authority is in charge of a child’s care

Can police enforce a child arrangements order?

There are law enforcement measures that can be taken if you can prove to a family court beyond reasonable doubt that your ex-partner or an appointed guardian has failed to follow the order. Family courts have the power to:

  • Demand compensation through a financial loss order
  • Alter child arrangements e.g. changing the amount of time a child spends with one of their parents or guardians
  • Carry out an enforcement order against your ex-partner
  • Make your ex-partner pay a fine
  • Or even send your ex-partner to prison in the most severe cases

Can a child arrangements order be changed?

Decisions on child arrangements orders are made based on what the family court believes the children’s best interests to be at the time. Child arrangements orders can be altered according to changes in parents’ circumstances and how a child’s needs change as they get older. One parent cannot change a child’s arrangements order without first seeking the court’s approval or agreement from the other parent.

parents discussing a child arrangements order

Can a child arrangements order be revoked?

If parents are unable to come to an agreement, an application to the court can be made to revoke a child arrangements order currently in place. In the case that both parents agree, alternative arrangements can be put in place.

Hopefully, you now understand more about how child arrangements orders work and how long they last. At Bromfield legal, we are a team of expert family law solicitors perfectly placed to guide you through securing legally binding childcare arrangements for your divorce or separation.

Get in touch by ringing our Nuneaton office on 024 7638 2343, or our Warwick office on 01926 702 702, or emailing us at enquiries@bromfieldlegal.co.uk.