Do you need to involve lawyers or would your money be better spent seeking the help of a co-parenting coach (or similar) to help you work through your parenting issues?
First off, there is no need to involve us if you have made arrangements which work for you and your children. We only need to get involved if there is no agreement between parents, or wider family members who are significant to the lives of your children.
Resolving arrangements between parents can be amongst the most difficult issues to deal with. Often it boils down to different parenting styles rather than what the law may term “welfare issues”.
It is important not to lose sight of this as the costs and stress created by involving a third party - a lawyer or a judge – can be high.
Generally, the following are key:
- personalities involved
It's a sad fact that this is perhaps the key issue. Multiple emails, calls and attending to a case will add to the costs. Often with retrospect this may not actually add any value to the outcome.
We will do our best to save you from yourself or from your ex, by:
- highlighting the relevant issues and focusing on these not ephemera
- acting promptly to avoid delays
- when a case is drifting away from the issues, warn you and refocus on what is relevant
- avoid point scoring, apportioning blame or responding tit for tat to personal digs (yes this does happen even when lawyers are involved)
Supporting you at mediation, negotiating between solicitors or going to court all have different fees.
There is no one size fits all here, and it is a case of considering what is best for you and acting accordingly. We do this by explaining the options and enabling you to make an informed choice, rather than be persuaded to engage in a process which you do not feel is right for you, or which you feel pressured into by your ex.
If expert evidence is needed, this will add to the costs. Usually this entails the instruction of an independent social worker to conduct a welfare report (in place of CAFCASS, if agreed by the parties) or a wishes and feelings report, or the instruction of a child therapist or counsellor, for example. If your case requires this evidence we will obtain an estimate in advance, and the costs are likely to be shared with the other parent.
Funding your case
Legal fees can be high and come at a time of uncertainty, there is no hiding this. We realise this and want to ensure that instructing FLC is something which involves openness on the likely costs and how these can be met.
We have set out our hourly rates and what can be expected in terms of costs here. We have also set out the various options available for funding your case.
We accept: Litigation loans, credit or debit cards, bank transfer.
How can I make arrangements?
Any way you like! This can range from discussions between parents, mediation, working with a co-parenting coach, to court hearings with lawyers. It all depends on the relationship between you as parents, it is rarely on the children or the complexity of the issues.
The key point is the dynamic between the two of you; if this is difficult, if there is any kind of abuse or inequality which affects how the discussions occur, it may be better to involve a professional. This can range from a mediator, a counsellor or therapist, a co-parenting coach to a lawyer; sometimes it will require a mix of professionals. It is case and fact dependent.
Do I need a court order?
No, in fact if you can agree to the arrangements, the court will not want to get involved. It’s only cases where you cannot agree on the arrangements that a court order is relevant.
A court order has the advantage of being enforceable and clear in terms of the obligations on each parent, and the arrangements which should be in place.
In all cases, it is sensible to write down the arrangements so both parents are clear on what is going to happen, and when. This can stop “I thought we had agreed this” from occurring.
Can I make once and for all arrangements?
Yes and no: yes in as much as you can have arrangements which continue for a long time. But, child arrangements are different to financial cases; all child arrangements can potentially be varied, in fact it is likely they will change as the children grow older. Child arrangements by their very nature need to be flexible and able to evolve as the children grow up.
Will my children have a say in what should happen?
Yes, but how much weight this will have will vary; older children’s views carry more weight, but it will also depend on the child in question. This can be tricky, as children can express different views to each parent. Often the instruction of an independent third party such as an independent social worker or a child therapist can help establish their true wishes and feelings and help prevent them being caught in the middle.
What normally happens, are there standard arrangements or a formula?
There is no template which the law applies when families separate. Although many people make similar arrangements, these are not set in stone. The best arrangements are bespoke and practical, reflecting the lives of the parents and the children, their ages and the circumstances of the family unit.
Do children always live with their mothers?
No, and there is no legal principle that they should. The Children Act generally refers to parents, and doesn’t place one in a better position than the other. Not everyone agrees with this statement, but the court generally sees parents as equal, both have parental responsibility. What will be relevant is how your family has been structured and how your household has been run. Who has primarily cared for the children and is able to devote more time to their day to day care? Who has the more demanding job? Do you have a nanny or au pair? These factors will play into where the children may live and the overall arrangements for them.
What if the other parent doesn't pay maintenance for the children?
There is no connection between the financial arrangements and the child arrangements.