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28 July 2021

Can one parent stop the other parent from seeing  the child or children in the UK?

Are you a mother or father and being denied or having restricted child contact? Call us we will help you find a resolution in a fast and efficient way. We are trained family lawyers and mediators who are able to assist you in a professional way.  Contact us for a Free consultation - 0845 838 2306.

A mother or father cannot stop the other seeing the child or children unless the court orders to do so. If the child is scared of the father or mother due to some kind of abuse or harm, then the mother or father would need to speak to the child and gather evidence which may prove the child being at risk.

Sometimes, when parents separate, one parent wants to stop or limit contact between the other parent and the children. When can contact be limited or stopped?

The General Rule

A parent cannot stop the other parent from seeing the children, except in rare situations.

This means that contact cannot be prevented, even in situations like these:

A parent refuses to pay child support.

A parent is sometimes late picking up or dropping off the children (according to what a custody agreement or a court decision says).

A parent does not see the children regularly, even though a custody agreement or court decision says that this parent will see the children regularly.

Reasons for Preventing Contact

A parent who wants to stop or limit contact with the other parent usually has to go back to court and ask a judge for an order.

But if the children are in physical or psychological danger (for example, in the case of death threats), a parent can do what is necessary to protect the children. Later, this parent can go to court and ask for an order to prevent the other parent from seeing the children or limiting visits.

A judge will stop contact between a parent and the children if

it is an exceptional situation, or

a drastic decision is necessary to protect the interests of the children.

A judge will carefully evaluate a decision to prevent children from seeing one of their parents. If possible, the judge will opt for something less extreme, such as supervised contact. For example, this would allow parents who are in jail to have some contact with their children, as long as the judge believes this is in the interests of the children.

Limiting Contact

In certain situations, judges prefer to limit or at least carefully define the type of contact allowed between children and a parent. Here are some of the options for this kind of contact:

Option One: Supervised Contact

Judges might prefer to order supervised visits between a parent and the children, especially in these types of cases:

The children must be protected from the behaviour or attitudes of the parent who wants contact with the children (violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, etc.).

It has been a long time since the children have had contact with the parent who now wants to see them regularly, and a supervised, gradual resumption of their relationship is the best option.

A judge can agree to let one of the following people supervise the contact:

a trustworthy person related to the children (grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, etc.)

a trustworthy person not related to the children (a friend of the parents, a babysitter, etc.)

a qualified professional (Several areas in Quebec have “family houses” where a parent can visit with the children in a safe and welcoming environment under the supervision of qualified professionals.)

Option Two: Contact From a Distance.

A judge can also decide that the contact between a parent and a child should not be face-to-face. Here are a few examples of contact from a distance:

by telephone

through letters

over the Internet

Option Three: “Creative” Solutions

A judge can create a made-to-measure solution to ensure the children are safe during visits with the parent who has potentially harmful behaviours.

These are examples of what judges have done in the past:

order a parent not to smoke in front of the children

order a parent not to play video games in front of the children

require installation of a device that stops a car from starting if the parent’s breath sample is over the legal alcohol limit

require a parent to follow basic instructions on the use of child car seats

Contact us for more information. 0845 838 2306 we offer a free consultation.

20 June 2021

Financial Settlement on Divorce.

My ex partner has refused to provide all of his financial information.  What can I do and what will the family court do to help me resolve this to I can get a fair financial settlement?

Even though hiding money in a divorce can have serious consequences and can result in a penalty for hiding assets in divorce, there are those who are willing to take that risk. Divorce financial settlement negotiations can only really begin once both parties have fully disclosed their assets and finances to each other.

While the vast majority of people do reveal the full extent of their financial situation to their spouse, in order to work towards a settlement which is fair to both sides, this is not always the case as we look closer at what to do if someone is hiding money in a divorce and what the penalty for hiding assets in a divorce would be.

Hiding money in a divorce

During divorce proceedings, both parties are expected to make full and frank disclosure of their finances. Hiding money in a divorce goes directly against this principle.

Both parties being open and honest about their financial situation, can help to ensure that negotiations are effective and can increase the chance of a solution being reached without the expense of having to go to court. If one party is hiding money in a divorce, this could result in negotiations breaking down and court being the only option.

If this happens, both parties will be ordered by the court to fully disclose their finances and assets.

What can I do if I think my spouse is hiding money in a divorce?

In financial remedy proceedings, both parties have a duty of full and frank disclosure of their finances and assets.

If the court believes that one party is hiding money in a divorce, there are a number of different remedies the court has available to it. For example, if your spouse is hiding money in a divorce, the court may make a court order on the basis that a certain amount of money is available, despite what your spouse has chosen to reveal.

If you think your spouse is hiding money in a divorce, you must raise your concerns contact us as early on as possible in the process, so they can take the necessary action. The sooner you seek legal advice about your spouse hiding money in a divorce, the better.

If a case is closed and the court later discovers that someone was hiding money in a divorce, the case could be reopened and the financial order could potentially be changed.

Hiding Money in a Divorce and the Penalty

Can my spouse be punished for hiding money in a divorce?

If your spouse is found to be hiding money in a divorce, the court could punish them in a number of different ways.

For example, if it discovers that your spouse is hiding money in a divorce, the court could order that your spouse must pay your legal costs.

Hiding money in a divorce could also lead to the ‘guilty’ party getting a less favourable settlement than they may have done otherwise.

I believe my spouse is hiding money in a divorce – can I conduct my own investigations?

Many of the methods you would need to undertake to find out if your spouse is hiding money in a divorce, such as hacking into your spouse’s email account or breaking into their filing cabinet, are illegal. By trying to investigate yourself, you could find yourself at risk of both criminal and civil sanctions.

What is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK?

The only way to ensure that every couple has a divorce financial settlement which is fair to both parties, is to ensure that each party fully discloses their assets and finances as part of the financial settlement negotiations. This is known as full and frank disclosure.The penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK will depend on what is appropriate in each case.

We will now discuss the penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK and explain what to do if you think your spouse may be being less than truthful about the state of their finances.

Penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK: it’s important to act quickly.

There are various different penalties for hiding assets in divorce and if the court finds that one party has concealed assets, it will decide on a punishment which it considers adequate in the circumstances (more on this below).

It is vital to seek advice as quickly as possible if you suspect that your spouse may be concealing assets from you or organising the disposal of assets.

As well as penalties for hiding assets in divorce, those who attempt to investigate themselves could be punished

A lawyer will be able to tell you what steps should be taken to stop your spouse from disposing of the assets, or ensuring that the assets your spouse is attempting to hide are taken into account by the court when it is making a financial order.

The court has the power to take various actions, including:

• using a search order to discover whether there are hidden assets (only usually when the assets are significant, as search orders can be expensive)

• making a freezing order to prevent assets being disposed of

• ordering that already-disposed assets be transferred back

If you begin an investigation yourself, you may find that you are breaking the law and you could find yourself subject to civil and criminal penalties.

I don’t believe my partner has disclosed everything to the court – what is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK?

There are very serious consequences for hiding assets in divorce in the UK.

One penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK is being ordered to pay the legal costs of the other party. The person hiding the assets may also receive a less favourable financial settlement than they would have been awarded otherwise.

As well as the penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK, the court also has the power to ensure the assets are included in the financial settlement.

In addition, if the court discovers at a future date that one party did not disclose all of their assets, it has the power to reopen the case and make changes to the original financial order.

What’s more, the penalty for hiding assets in divorce in the UK could include the ‘guilty’ party ending up with a criminal record and maybe even a prison sentence.

Contact our experts for advice on your fair divorce settlement .

we offer a free initial consultation -0845 838 2306

March 2021. 

Separation and Divorce / The courts encourage mediation to ease the pressure on the courts.

Separation and Divorce 

Divorcing couples paid £500 to stay out of the courts

Taxpayer cash to fund scheme that aims to use mediation to ease pressure on court backlogs caused by coronavirus pandemic.

Divorcing couples are to get £500 of taxpayers’ money to go to mediation rather than court in a bid to avoid irretrievably fracturing their families.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is – for the first time – to provide tax-free vouchers to separating couples so that they can try to resolve their difficulties amicably rather than go through a potentially damaging court battle.

It is setting aside £1 million from Friday for up to 2,000 couples to pay for mediation where they can agree custody and contact with their children, share out their assets and money and agree any maintenance arrangements.

The move is part of a major shift in approach by the Government after ushering in no-fault divorce laws to make separation easier and less traumatic. The MoJ also believes the scheme will help ease pressure on the courts caused by backlogs built up during lockdown.

Divorces have hit a seven-year high and are expected to increase following the family tensions fueled during lockdowns. There were 107,599 divorces in 2019, an increase of 18.4 per cent from 90,871 in 2018 and the highest number since 2014.

Although traditionalists have criticised the Government for not doing more to keep families together, ministers say it will not only help parents but also spare children increased family conflict which research by the University of Sussex found has a long-term impact on their mental health and development.

Courts minister Lord Wolfson QC, told The Telegraph: “Mediation is often a quicker, cheaper and less stressful way of resolving disputes, which helps separating couples reach amicable agreements without an unnecessary and often acrimonious court process.

Our new scheme will open up the benefits of these services to even more families – sparing them the stress of long legal battles, while also helping to lessen the pressure on our family courts as we recover from the pandemic.

Research by the MoJ suggests one in five of the family break-up cases involving more than 50,000 children each year could be resolved outside courts. More than 70 per cent of couples using mediation services resolved their issues outside of the courtroom.

The scheme will be open to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis and is particularly targeted at couples who may not have access to legal aid. A trained mediator will work with the couple to agree child contact arrangements and try to settle any financial arguments.

The final agreement is then considered by a court before making it into a legally binding and enforceable court order.

One couple, Tom and Bryony, were arguing over contact with their children Declan, seven, and Luci-Anne, five, before seeing their mediator, Eleanor.

“Eleanor helped us to get on with making things work on a practical level. To some extent, we had to put aside the angry feelings we had towards each other. This wasn’t easy, but we both felt that doing so would be best for the children,” said the couple.

“We are confident that mediation helped us move things on in a way that wouldn’t have really been possible if we had just carried on slugging it out.”

The cost of divorce

The average divorce costs £14,561 in legal fees and lifestyle costs, according to the Government's Money Advice Service. It can be even greater if one party has to move out and spend money on rent or on a second home.

The person seeking the divorce will have to pay between £450 and £950 in solicitor’s fees and £550 to the divorce centre.

The other partner will pay around £500 to their solicitor. They must also agree to a financial settlement, which can cost anywhere between £500 and £800 or more if more complicated assets are involved.

If an agreement cannot be reached between the splitting couple they may have to pay for mediation or take their case to court. This could cost each party tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Do you regret your divorce?

21 March 2021

Divorce regret is real – so does getting back with an ex ever work?

Lockdown has sent divorce rates spiralling, but could couples be acting too hastily? We talk to some for whom second time round is better

During lockdown divorce has boomed, hitting its highest point since 2014. But while recent circumstances have pushed many to breaking point, some splits will inevitably spark regret.

This week, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that she had not wanted to divorce her ex-husband, Coldplay singer Chris Martin. “I never wanted to not be married to the father of my kids, theoretically,” she explained. Singer Louise Redknapp also recently admitted that she’d been hasty in divorcing ex-footballer Jamie. “I just ran, as fast as the wind would take me,” she said. “I should have paused for a minute.” Whether or not the marriage would have survived, she added: “I wish I’d tried.”

Divorcing in haste and repenting at leisure is surprisingly common. Research has shown 50 per cent of divorcees felt they’d make a mistake, and a 2016 report by legal firm Avvo suggested 39 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women regret their divorce.

This week, the Government has announced that divorcing couples will receive £500 to attend mediation, in the hope that their broken marriages can be repaired. This comes after the change to no-fault divorce laws, and the Ministry of Justice intends the new scheme to ease pressure on the courts. Many couples therapists have welcomed the plans, aware that decisions made in anger can have far-reaching consequences.

“Rather than rationally working out what has happened and why, the impulse is to run away, believing it is all too difficult to fix it,” says psychotherapist Neil Wilkie.

Col Varnham*, 53, a business manager from Liverpool, admits he was hasty in divorcing wife Joanna*, five years ago.

“When the kids grew up, Jo started a business and was often busy or away. Looking back, I was jealous,” Col admits. “My career was in a rut and I resented her success.” The couple rowed constantly, and “in 2015 she asked for a divorce. I should have suggested counselling, but I was too proud.” Since then, Col has dated but is currently single. “I really wish I’d thought twice,” he adds. Before pulling the plug, see a therapist, advises relationships counsellor Juliette Smith who offers an online relationships coaching course.

“The way we communicate can be ineffective at best and destructive at worst,” she says. “A professional can help couples learn to relate with more compassion and understanding.” Louise Redknapp has said she was too hasty in asking for a divorce from ex-footballer Jamie. Louise Redknapp has wondered whether she was too hasty in asking for a divorce from ex-footballer Jamie CREDIT: David M Benett/Getty.

That was the case for Marilyn Anderson, 60, a visual artist from Sheffield who divorced seven years ago.

“When the children left home I wanted to travel,” she says. “But Paul wanted to stay home and potter. I was increasingly frustrated – I told Paul I wanted to split up, and he agreed we’d lost our connection.”  But now, “he’s happily with someone else and I’m on my own”, Marilyn says, admitting: “Now I want the same things Paul did, but it’s too late.”

Relationship therapist Rhian Kivits says: “I’ve met couples who really believed their divorce was justified at the time but regret can surface alongside a huge reality check when it becomes clear that divorce hasn’t made them any happier.”

But impulsive leaving isn’t as spontaneous as it may seem, warns relationship psychotherapist Neil Wilkie. “There is normally resentment or hurt which has been building for a long time. It’s as if there is a reservoir of coping, which has had lots of rocks thrown into it – until one day it only takes one drop to make it all overflow.”

But some are lucky enough to get a second chance with the same partner – and do it better.

Saima Butt, 41, from Wokingham, who runs Facebook finance group Never Taught In Schools is remarried to first husband Irfan, 42. “We originally met in Lahore, Pakistan as children,” she explains. “As adults, we dated long distance for two years – it was a love marriage.” But though Irfan moved to the UK, she says: “We grew apart – partly due to me not communicating how I felt.” They divorced and Saima married again, but says: “After I went through my second divorce I started to miss Irfan. I felt I’d made a mistake.” After 10 years, she called him “to say sorry.” That turned into further conversations and meetings.

Saima and Irfan remarried after 10 years and say they have learnt to communicate better. Saima and Irfan remarried after 10 years and say they have learnt to communicate better. "I shouldn’t have rushed for a divorce; we’re very similar people,” she says. They remarried and Saima adds: “I learnt to calm down and come back to a conversation rather than get angry, we’ve learnt to give each other space, and most importantly, communicate.”

Time to reflect was what brought Jen Brimacombe, 46, a retail worker, and her husband Davide, 47, back together. “We met in April 1990,” she says. “I was pregnant with our first child only four months later.” He was born nine weeks premature, and, “After a very rocky first year, we decided to get married. Luke followed in 1993 and Coral in 1995. Having three children so fast and so young was why we split up,” she goes on. “There were lots of arguments.”

Though they occasionally came back together over the next five years, she says, “We divorced in 1997. We both married other people and I had my daughter Ellie.” But neither marriage lasted. “In 2009 we both went to Coral’s parents’ evening at school. I asked him in for a cup of tea and we talked for hours.”

Jen and Davide tied the knot a second time after 12 years apart

Jen and Davide tied the knot a second time after 12 years apart

He texted the next morning. “It was as though all the bad times hadn’t happened,” says Jen. “We decided to remarry on what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary, same time and same place. We are both much older and wiser now. The things we used to argue about seem ridiculous.”

If you do come back together after divorce, says Wilkie, “a period apart may allow the emotions to abate, but it’s essential you genuinely feel heard by your partner and agree what needs to be different. This is not about a sticking plaster on the old relationship, but creating a new and different one.

“By taking stock and understanding values, any rekindled relationship can be much stronger and they’ll be significantly happier.” But if it’s too late, and one of you has moved on, don’t wallow in regret, says Wilkie. “Focus on what sort of relationship you want in the future. This is an opportunity to create your ideal relationship – not to replay old dreams.”

*Some names have been changed but the stories are all true.

Parental Alienation, is this happening to you?

Another area of concern is Parental Alienation.

When parents separate, the way that a child experiences the breakdown will vary from individual to individual. Their feelings may be shown is different ways such as anger, withdrawal, truancy and emotional outbursts. Research is shows that a child’s reactions and feelings are often influenced by the adult behaviour to which they are exposed.

Unfortunately some separating parents are unable to contain their hostility towards the other parent for whatever reason and this can impair their ability to co-parent responsibly. Harmful conflict can arise when parents are unable to put the needs of their child first. At the most extreme and intense end of the parenting spectrum, these parents may, as a consequence of their negative feelings, abuse their parental responsibility. They may misuse their parental position in a way that can cause grave emotional harm to their child, including alienating the other parent from the child’s life.

Parental alienation, a form of psychological abuse against both the child and the rejected parent, is a concept; which is becoming more recognised and understood in the Family Courts. There is no single definition but it is now recognised by Cafcass (court appointed social workers) as arising ‘when a child’s hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent’. Typically it results in a parent being rejected by their child for no justifiable reason, having previously had a loving relationship. It is an extremely harmful behaviour that can have a life long impact on a family.

There is now specific guidance available to Cafcass officers who are responsible for reporting to the court on suspected parental alienation cases within family proceedings, called the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF).

The parent negatively influencing a child can sometimes know that they are deliberately seeking to alienate a child. An alienating parent with insight into the effect of their behaviour can act in certain ways to oust the other parent, often in an obsessive way. Other cases are more complex and, whilst the alienating parent may feel genuinely concerned for their child when in the care of the other parent, their concerns can be unfounded and experienced for reasons such as an undiagnosed personality disorder; which affects their judgment.

Anecdotally, it is believed that restoring a direct relationship, often with the help of specialist support, as soon as possible can be one of the best ways to ensure a child can rebuild and maintain their relationships with both parents. As a last resort, the court is also able to ‘switch residence’ from one parent to another.

Notwithstanding the above, it is important to distinguish between parental alienation and other reasons why a child may say that they do not wish to spend time with a parent.

These can include:

• post-separation rejection – a common and often temporary reaction to the changing family situation;

• justified rejection – for example where the child has been harmed by a parent or is frightened of them because of domestic abuse or other harmful parenting, such as neglect or substance misuse;

• attachment – age and gender specific reactions to resist time with the other parent including separation anxiety;

• affinity/alignment – where a child prefers spending time with one parent over the other. This can develop before/during/after separation;

• harmful conflict – where the parents actively disagree with each other and are unable to put the needs of the child first. This varies in intensity/impact.

The CIAF examines the underlying cause(s) for any rejection and identifies any risk to a child, including emotional harm, as a first step. The reasons for parental rejection by a child are often complex and require specialist help to identify and investigate before they can start to be resolved.

The new Cafcass guidance is a positive step to equip those responsible for making decisions about a child’s welfare with the right tools to unearth the reality of family dynamics. It is hoped this will enable a more robust investigation and the means to safeguard a child’s emotional wellbeing from the outset.”

Reference: article by:

Children and Divorce

January 2019 - Children and Divorce

Revealed: the best age to get divorced to protect your children's mental health

unhappy parents should not stay together “for the sake of the children”, as divorcing is less harmful if it takes place earlier in childhood, new research shows.

The first major study to assess the emotional impact of splitting up on children has found that the greatest risk of repercussions such bad behaviour and disobedience come in late childhood and early adolescence.

The analysis of 6,000 children born in the UK at the turn of the century found that those whose parents move apart between the age of seven and 14 are significantly more likely - 16 per cent - to suffer emotional and behavioural problems than those whose parents stay together.

However, there was no difference between children aged between three and seven whose parents divorced and those of the same age who did not. The University College London scientists behind the new research believe divorce is more damaging to adolescents than to younger children because they are more socially sensitive and better able to pick up on negative relationship dynamics.

The team examined reports of children’s mental health at three, five, seven, 11 and 14, including emotional problems such as feelings of low mood and anxiety, and behavioural issues such as disobedience. They compared information on children who experienced a family split with those who did not a fifth of children in the study saw their parents separate between the ages of 3 and 14.

Among older children, increased emotional problems were noticed for both boys and girls, but more severe behavioural issues were observed only in boys.

The study also shows that, after a family break-up, children from more privileged backgrounds were just as likely to have mental health problems as their less advantaged peers.

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, who co-authored the study, said: “With adolescent mental ill-health a major concern nationally, there’s a pressing need to understand the causes. She added that, as well as a greater sensitive to relationship dynamics, older children are more likely to be affected by a family breakup than younger children because of disruption to schooling and friendships is often greater.

Published in the journal, Social Science and Medicine, the study also investigated the impact of the break-up on the mothers’ mental health and financial resources.

Across the UK, women accounted for 90 per cent of lone parents, and most children in the study lived with their mothers after a split.

Mothers reported, on average, more mental health problems than those still with their partners if they separated when their children were older.

This is believed to be because the financial impact of divorce was greater the later on in the marriage.

According to the Office For National Statistics, there were 101,669 divorces of heterosexual couples in 2017, representing a 4.9 per cent decrease compared with 2016 but similar to the numbers of 2015. Just over four in 10 marriages in the UK end in divorce. Last year David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, announced an intention to allow no-fault divorces. Under a simplified system, spouses would lose the ability to block a divorce as there would be no need for their husband or wife to prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion in a contested divorce.

It followed a high-profile Supreme Court ruling which ordered a wife to stay in her “loveless” marriage after her husband of 40 years denied that he had behaved unreasonably.