We understand why putting children first is important...

Every parent worries about the impact of divorce on their children. Our understanding of the legal and emotional challenges means we can help you put your children first.

When you're going through a separation or divorce, the impact on your children will probably be your biggest concern. Although you and your partner will no longer be a couple, you'll always be parents and, in the vast majority of cases, your children will benefit from a continued loving relationship with you both.

They may be angry, confused and worried and will need to be reassured that things will be OK for them in the long run. But at a time when you're struggling with your own feelings and uncertainties after a break-up, it can be really difficult to keep calm around the children and plan for the future. Helping you to achieve this is one of the most important aspects of our work as family lawyers. 

We can advise on:

  • Arrangements for where children live and the time they spend with each of you (still often called "custody" and "access" even though these legal terms were scrapped years ago)
  • Holidays or permanent moves abroad
  • Issues on schooling
  • Child abduction
  • Grandparents' rights
  • Financial support for children
  • Surrogacy and fertility law

We always try to reduce conflict and see court as a last resort. We know from experience that agreed arrangements nearly always work better. 

The Children Act 1989 is the main piece of legislation relating to children when family relationships break down. It sets out the principles and legal rules that judges and children arbitrators must apply if they have to make a decision about a dispute. Those same principles and legal provisions are there to guide and encourage parents to reach their own agreement out of court.

When the Children Act came into force, it fundamentally changed the law and approach in children's cases. It swept away the old custody and access orders and introduced the concept of parents having "parental responsibility" for children instead of rights over them. It contains a welfare checklist which includes giving a voice to each child and ensuring their wishes are taken into account, depending on their age and understanding. It also recognises that, in most cases, court orders aren't necessary because parents themselves should and can decide what's best for their children.

The Act starts by outlining these three key principles: 

  1. Where there's any question about the upbringing of children, their welfare is the paramount concern.
  2. Delay in getting arrangements sorted is likely to be damaging.
  3. Unless there's a good reason to the contrary, it's in the best interests of children to have both parents involved in their life.

We know how important your children are to you. That's why we have a specialist children team at Mills & Reeve. With expert lawyers in each of our offices, we are able to advise on the full range of children issues, however difficult and complex. You can rely on us to help you find the best way to deal with the challenges you are facing so you and your children can look to the future with confidence.

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