If parents cannot agree arrangements for where their children will live and when they will spend time with the other parent, they can apply to the courts for a Child Arrangements Order. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the end of things.
It is a fact of life that in most cases, when two people end their relationship, one or both are hurt, upset and angry. These are very strong emotions and are pretty normal and understandable. Where it becomes a problem is when these emotions are allowed to spill over and impact upon the children involved. I am frequently contacted by parents who feel they are in need of advice about something that their ex has or hasn’t done and how this affects their rights to have contact to children. Most have no intention of taking matters through the courts, it’s not something they can afford or even want to do. As an experienced family lawyer I know that except in serious circumstances, Court proceedings should really be seen as a last resort.
Years ago, prenuptial agreements were thought of as only for the rich and famous. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and mystery surrounding them, when really they are appropriate for regular clients that I meet every day.
A prenuptial agreement is essentially a contract to set out who will get what in the event of things going wrong. It is a way of protecting assets, like those acquired prior to the marriage, an inheritance or a business. Without a proper prenuptial agreement, the assets can just be thrown into the marital pot with no certainty as to how they would be divided in the event of a split.
I was tempted to entitle this blog Sparkling Cyanide, sadly not a reference to a work by Agatha Christie but in fact a recent case in the family courts which illustrates how the courts become involved when parental ‘responsibility’ isn’t being exercised.
In January of this year, a heterosexual couple lost their court case in which they argued that opposite-sex couples are being subjected to discrimination as, unlike same-sex couples, they do not have the choice to enter into a civil partnership instead of marriage.
At present, same sex couples who wish to formalise their relationship and thereby obtain a legal status entitling them to financial protection and benefits, can choose between civil partnership or marriage. Heterosexual couples need to marry in order to obtain that same financial protection.