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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Child Custody Arrangements

There are many important considerations when going through divorce, but four out of five Brits believe that putting children’s interests first is right at the top of the list. Next comes avoiding conflict, according to a recent survey by family law association Resolution.

The group has launched a new advice guide, ’Separating Together: Your options for separation and divorce,’ designed to help separating couples understand and explore non-court based methods of resolving issues arising on the breakdown of a relationship.

“People have good intentions to prioritise the well-being of children and to avoid conflict during separation, but this can often be derailed by a lack of knowledge of non-court based options and an exposure to the adversarial nature of courts. Something is going very wrong, and often the result is emotionally and financially drained parents and deeply distressed children,” said Jo Edwards, Vice Chair of Resolution.

“However, there is another way. We’ve launched this guide because we want separating couples to know about non-confrontational alternatives to court. These methods can help prevent separation and divorce from being needlessly adversarial, and often can benefit the whole family through fairer settlements and by prioritising the interests of children,” he added.

 

Shared parenting legislation, aimed at strengthening relationships between parents and children after separation, could detract from children’s wellbeing, the Law Society is warning.

Responding to a Government consultation in which ministers are proposing different ways to establish the notion of “shared parenting” after separation, Law Society President John Wotton said: “Introducing a legislative presumption of shared parenting could lead to unrealistic expectations from fathers, with a huge rise in fathers asking the courts for ‘equal time’.

"This could undermine the Government’s drive towards mediation and out of court settlements. The Government should avoid any implication in the statute of any right to equal time with a child, or any prescription of appropriate amounts of time.

The primary focus should be on the rights and welfare of the children, not those of parents. The principle that the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount consideration should be maintained.”

The Government has laid an order in Parliament to bring the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) back under direct Ministerial control.

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:

“The Government is clear about how important strong family relationships are for children. All children have the right to financial support from both parents, which is why we are reforming the child maintenance service to put children at its heart.

"Bringing the system under direct control of Ministers will help that process."

The move follows a consultation conducted last year by the Government. The matter will be debated in both Houses of Parliament, and assuming it receives Parliamentary approval, CMEC will be abolished, and its current operational units will become a business unit of the Department  for Work and Pensions

Parents will be supported and helped to make their own, family-based child maintenance arrangements, although a new, streamlined and more efficient statutory child maintenance service will be introduced for those who need it.

 

According to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC), the cost of administering a typical Child Support Agency (CSA) case can reach around £25,000 over 18 years. More difficult cases can cost around £40,000, or more.

The case costings are based on two real CSA cases where sustained action was required to ensure compliance. The Government’s proposals for the reform of child maintenance are designed to eliminate from the system cases where parents have the potential to collaborate.

Case 1 was a ‘typical’ case, where the non-resident parent (NRP) paid just under £3,000 in maintenance over 19 months. More than 50 hours staff time was devoted to managing the case, including time spent on the telephone to both parents, tracing and speaking to the NRP’s employer, the calculation of four separate maintenance assessments reflecting changes in his financial circumstances and dealing with a complaint by the parent with care through their Member of Parliament.

Additional costs were incurred through the setting up of a Deduction from Earnings Order and instructing bailiffs when the case fell into arrears. The estimated cost to the CSA over this period was approximately £2,000. Over 18 years, a similar typical case would cost the taxpayer up to around £25,000.

Case 2 was a ‘difficult’ case involving multiple legal actions including liability Orders and County Court judgements, two Charging Orders on the NRPs main home and, ultimately, an order for its sale – at which point the NRP volunteered a lump sum payment. The latter action alone cost the CSA almost £10,000. Total staff time and enforcement costs over 18 years – excluding external solicitor’s fees – amounted to around £40,000.