Family Law is an intricate field revolving around people. To be effective family lawyers, lawyers must demonstrate empathy while remaining objective while providing sound legal advice.
Family Law includes key areas such as divorce, child arrangement orders and access disputes, domestic abuse and enforcement of protection orders. Major pieces of legislation in this regard include the Family Law Act 1996 and Children’s Rights Act of 1989.
As more couples opt to live together rather than marry, a rise in confusion about legal rights when their relationships break down has occurred. A recent poll conducted by Resolution revealed that most of the public back a change to allow cohabiting couples similar financial protection as married ones should their relationships crumble.
Family lawyers are available to assist clients in creating legally binding agreements regarding their finances and property should a relationship break down, commonly referred to as living together agreements or “declaration of trust agreements”, that protect against potential disputes by clearly outlining each party’s rights and responsibilities.
Lawyers are available to advise clients regarding the grounds for divorce or civil partnership dissolution and issues that may arise in such proceedings, applications for parental responsibility and access, contact arrangements and residence orders; adoption; paternity rights; reproductive rights and emancipation proceedings are other areas where family solicitors can offer invaluable help.
As family law is predominantly people-driven, family lawyers must be adept at inspiring trust and showing empathy whilst remaining firmly focused on their role as legal experts. Furthermore, it’s crucial that they can provide sound advice without confrontation, such as mediation and collaboration to assist their clients with resolving matters and moving on with their lives.
Current UK laws surrounding unmarried couples’ rights can be complex and differ between countries, yet in a recent report by Resolution and the Law Commission made recommendations for reforms to this area of law that apply throughout England and Wales, such as increased funding for early legal advice, changing cohabitation laws and improving support in family court for victims of domestic abuse. It will be interesting to see whether any legislation introduces in 2024 incorporates these proposals.
Major legislations like the Family Law Act 1996 for England and Wales and Scotland respectively play significant roles in shaping family law throughout the UK, providing guidance and protections on numerous legal aspects affecting families and individuals alike. Notable Family Court cases such as White v White, Re F (A Child), and Sharland v Sharland have all helped shape and define family law here, acting as precedents for future disputes.
The UK’s system of family law varies across England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with each jurisdiction having its own individual set of courts and laws. Hearings in England and Wales take place before county courts, family proceedings courts with specialist judges sitting in the Family Division of the High Court as well as an operating Family Justice System under codes of practice which govern how judges will approach and manage a case.
Divorce is an unfortunate yet prevalent aspect of family law. There may be various grounds available for initiating this legal end to a marriage; however, if couples can agree upon living arrangements and child rearing arrangements without court intervention then these agreements should be discussed with a solicitor to reach an amicable solution.
While divorce remains relatively uncomplicated, other aspects of family law may become more challenging. Property rights between unmarried partners may be difficult to establish and often follow the default position: assets held by the married spouse take precedence – leaving financially weaker parties vulnerable and potentially placed in an uncertain situation when they have made career sacrifices for their partner or children.
The Law Commission recently issued a report with recommendations for family law reform in the UK, such as increasing public funding for early legal advice and reform of cohabiting couples’ rights. Furthermore, government has committed to introduce no-fault divorce as part of efforts to speed up court procedures and decrease conflict among couples.
Child Arrangement Orders and Access
Parental disputes during a break-up can create extra complications. Legal action may be required in regards to childcare or visitation arrangements; good family law solicitors always prioritize the wellbeing of their client’s children in such matters, supporting mediation efforts as needed and court proceedings until an agreement has been reached regarding your children’s future arrangements.
Child arrangement orders are agreements that determine how parents will share custody of their child(ren) after the break-up of a relationship, including specific issues like name changes, schools the child will attend and medical treatment to be given them. They also address residence and contact arrangements which establish where the child resides as well as how much time each parent spends with each other – taking into account any safeguarding concerns when making their decisions.
A judge’s decision regarding what is in the best interests of children/children will always take into account what wishes and feelings the child/children express – as long as they are old enough. Also taken into consideration will be any advice from Cafcass, an independent body comprised of specially-trained social workers with family expertise.
At court hearings, judges will make legally-binding child arrangement orders that will govern child arrangements going forward. They may provide for specific orders such as supervised visitation or utilize contact centres or even Face-time to arrange contact if safe to do so. Their final decision will also take into account both emotional and physical needs of children when making this determination.
An effective mediation session can provide a way out of custody and access disputes without court hearings, provided it’s been missed in the past. A good family law firm will be able to refer you to an experienced mediator while offering legal guidance during this process.
Domestic abuse affects everyone and does not discriminate based on race or creed; it can affect anyone, and takes the form of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and controlling or coercive behaviors by anyone close to its victim, such as current/former partners/spouses, civil partners, ex-partners or anyone who closely associates themselves with them – this includes parents, children and relatives of any sort.
Abuse comes in many forms and is both criminal and civil in nature. Courts can issue non-molestation orders to keep a person away from a victim; in certain instances they may also order them to leave their current location or end their relationship. Other protective court orders that can be issued include safety plans, injunctions and occupation orders which can often be handled by specialist High Court courts rather than family judges in private law matters.
There are several organizations available to those who have been victims of abuse or who are concerned about someone close. Respect phoneline provides confidential and anonymous support services for women and men experiencing abusive behaviour or are concerned about someone close. You can call them either via telephone or webchat – free calls can also be placed 24/7 with a helpline number available.
Legal assistance comes in various forms. A legal aid certificate may help cover the costs associated with a family court case for those living on limited finances or low income, although its availability depends on your local authority and can sometimes be hard to secure.
Family law can be complex and it is crucial for individuals to seek legal advice whenever necessary. Seeking assistance through either a family lawyer or via other agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Women’s Aid is advised, while networking with professionals who specialize in this field and attending conferences or seminars to stay abreast of recent changes is also advised.