Extended Family Law Solicitors
If a marriage is seen as the unity not only of two people but their families, then what happens when a couple separates or divorces? How can extended family members who love and care for the children of separating parents ensure they remain included in the child’s life and do not get pushed out if their son or daughter only has limited access to their grandchild, or if their relationship with their ex-son or daughter-in-law breaks down completely? English family law makes some provision for this in the form of Contact Orders.
What is a Contact Order?
It seems unfair that loving grandparents, cousins, and other members of a child’s extended family can lose contact with a child as the result of a divorce. While they have no automatic legal rights to contact, it is possible to apply to a Family Court for a Section 8 order – more frequently referred to as a Contact Order. The court will consider the relationship between the child and the relative requesting contact, review a statutory welfare checklist, and consider what is in the child’s best interests when deciding whether to grant the application. In most instances, continuing established contact with the child’s extended family is considered beneficial.
Special Guardianships and Residence Orders
Single parents often rely on their family for help and support them as they struggle with raising children while working. This assistance may be in the form of after-school care, or it could involve a child living with their grandparents for part of the week if, for example, their parent works night shifts. If any relative other than one with Parental Responsibility cares for a child for an extended period, then family law advice is that they should apply for a Residence Order which will also give them Parental Responsibility.
Special Guardians can override anyone with Parental Responsibility, including biological parents, and there may be some occasions where it is in the child’s best interest that this is given. A family lawyer will be able to advise what is the best option for your circumstances.
Alternative Families and Civil Partnerships
A contemporary family is no longer only a married mother and father with children yet the law regarding the dissolution of a Civil Partnership does not adequately reflect this. Consider the financial and practical consequences if your Civil Partnership were to end in dissolution and you had children, and talk to experienced family law solicitors for advice.
LGBT couples who want children may consider using a donor or surrogate to help them achieve their dream. A skilled family lawyer can draw up an agreement before conception takes place which, though not legally enforceable, work as a formal agreement that can be used as evidence if parenting of the resulting child comes into dispute.
Do not assume that, because you are not a child’s biological parent, you have no hope of contact if their mother or father refuses you access. With good family law advice, you may be able to maintain a relationship that is important to both you and the child despite their parents’ separation.
Why work with us?
We will explain the process clearly and keep you informed about what is happening at each stage.
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We offer a cost effective solution that's tailored to your situation; and we will provide clear information about the costs.
Advice from top solicitors
You will be assigned to an expert solicitor who will give you the best advice and compassion at this sensitive time.
Expert family law solicitors working for you
At The Family Law Experts, we work with specialist solicitors in all aspects of divorce, matrimonial, family and childcare law.
We offer an expert approach at a personal level for all our legal support. When dealing with family issues and family legal problems, our aim is to deal with each case in the least confrontational way possible, whilst still achieving the best results for our clients. We understand that when family issues arise and family relationships break down, real lives are affected, and the need for expert legal help and support is essential.