Arrangements for Children
Arrangements for children after separation or divorce
Our experienced and specialist child solicitors can help you in resolving disputes as to the arrangements for your children following family breakdown. Read on to find out how our expert lawyers can help you and your family.
Bridget Thompson Partner
“Osbornes is a large team with expertise in private and public children. The strength and depth of the team means that every aspect of the complex cases sent to me is well prepared and properly considered.”
“I consider the firm to be very experienced in child care cases and to provide a very professional and high standard of work”
Leading children lawyers in London
When children are caught up in a divorce or separation, most parents will have their welfare uppermost in their mind. However, as each person seeks to forge a future, sometimes hard decisions can be exacerbated by the complexities of life particularly if there is significant wealth, children from multiple marriages, or an international dimension to the family.
Here at Osbornes Law, we are experienced in negotiating arrangements for children after divorce or separation, including international divorce. We can help to ensure children continue to see both their parents and extended family members, and that their financial needs are met appropriately. Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in creative solutions to best meet your family’s needs.
Putting the interests of children first
The welfare interest of your children must be paramount in any decisions, and if a dispute has to go to court this will be the guiding principle.
Once we have discussed your circumstances, and your wishes, we will advise you on the legal position. These considerations are wide ranging, from the age and sex of each child to their own wishes and feelings on matters.
Older children may have their own interests and needs which must be accommodated too. For example, we have experience of negotiating arrangements for gifted chileren whose training programmes and competitive schedules had to be taken into account.
"Bridget Thompson combines her excellent legal knowledge with a clear, succinct and robust style of advice and advocacy. Her approach clearly inspires a high degree of client confidence in her"
"She is excellent. She's very reliable, talks about her cases passionately and is very committed to her clients."
"I consider the firm to be very experienced in child care cases and to provide a very professional and high standard of work"
Bridget Thompson is a public law specialist noted for her extensive practice in matters involving alternative families and adoption. An interviewee observes: "She's a fighter, she's clever, and she understands all aspects of a case."
"Well-regarded family practice assisting clients with substantial matrimonial disputes and sensitive children proceedings."
"Simone is absolutely on top of the game. She has great attention to detail, and has her clients' needs at heart."
"Bridget is client-focused, a pleasure to work with and incredibly supportive to her clients."
Bridget Thompson heads the family team, where client care is the top priority.
Simone McGrath is a highly knowledgeable practitioner with a focus on international child abduction matters. She has a large expertise in public and private law.
Simone McGrath handles international child abduction cases and challenging care proceedings relating to non-accidental injuries.
This team is perhaps best known for its children work, often involving complex international dynamics.
Naomi Angell leads the market in cross-border children law matters. Sources confirm that she is "at the cutting edge of changing law and policy" when it comes to international adoption
Agreeing where children can live and stay
The living arrangements for children is a significant consideration when parents separate. Aside from the emotional aspects, the family home will often be one of the largest assets in the negotiation of a financial settlement after a divorce.
If you cannot reach an agreement amicably over the children’s living arrangements, then we will advise you on family mediation and how best to prepare for this. If there is no resolution following mediation, we can advise and represent you during court proceedings. In most circumstances it will be necessary for you to attend mediation before court proceedings can be issued.
The housing needs of the children are dealt with as part and parcel of the financial settlement on divorce. If the matrimonial home needs to be sold, then it may be possible for the sale to be postponed until the children are adults.
We can advise you on your options and what will best suit your needs. If you are not married and are concerned about the housing needs of your children, then we can advise you on a possible application under the Children Act for a housing fund.
Agreeing financial provision for children
If you and your partner have separated, whether you had been married or not, there is an ongoing obligation to ensure that your children are provided for.
Generally, in the UK, the parent who lives with the children will receive monthly payments towards their upkeep from the other parent. Our lawyers will be able to advise you on what amount of money is appropriate given your own family circumstances. This will take into account incomes, how many children there are and the amount of overnight stays the children have with each parent.
We will always endeavour to reach an agreement with your former partner, however if agreement is not possible then you can apply to the Child Maintenance Services (CMS) which will only become involved if both parents reside in the UK. The CMS will calculate the money that needs to be paid, and if necessary, they may be able to recover payments directly from your former partner’s employer.
For paying parents, any income you receive over £3,000 gross per week will not be included in a CMS assessment. However, your former partner can take you to court to seek a top up in maintenance or lump sum payments. The court is not restricted in what income or assets it can consider, including trust funds.
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Considerations for high-net-worth families
If you or your spouse are high-net-worth individuals, then your lifestyles will need to be taken into account. When calculating what is a fair amount, we will want to know the standard of living the children experienced, for example do the children attend private school (or for younger children if this was intended), do they have a horse or horse-riding lessons, or regularly go skiing or sailing?
If your former partner is a high-net-worth individual, then it may be possible to make an application to court to top up the level of maintenance awarded by the CMS. Under the Children Act the courts can award lump sums to allow children to be maintained in a certain lifestyle and to pay for the likes of private school fees. The courts can even order for the transfer of property to the benefit of the children.
It is preferable to try and reach a sensible fair agreement out of court. This will not only save you in time and costs but can also mean you have more control over what additional monies are spent on. You may even agree to pay directly for some of your children’s activities and expenses such as private school fees. We can advise you on a realistic level of maintenance in light of your situation.
“Mark Freedman represents high net worth clients in complex financial disputes. Sources say that “he’s a determined negotiator who’ll always do the very best for his clients.”
“Mark Freedman is considered a ‘brilliant lawyer’ and a ‘great tactician’ who ‘will absolutely fight tooth and nail for his clients’. He is noted for his expertise in private children work and high-value divorces.”
"Exceptional value for money. Highly competent and reasonably priced. One of the best in the field."
"Mark Freedman is intelligent and personable and has a good selection of high-net work cases".
Andrew secured me the best financial settlement for my claim. He is a credit to Osbornes Solicitors.
"Lisa Pepper was recommended to me as non-nonsense and able to help me with a difficult and confrontational divorce. She more than lived up to that – she was practical, collected and always available with a clear opinion and suggestions of how to move forwards. She also was open and helpful about costs and how to mitigate them"
"Mark Freedman is a very capable lawyer, renowned for not being a pushover and pushing his clients’ cases as much as he can, but will always talk sensibly about settlement. He is among the best – tenacious, good judgment and tactically aware."
"Mark Freedman is a dynamic and highly experienced family lawyer who fights extremely hard for his clients and is always in their corner, thus ensuring their loyalty and confidence. In a trial you would always want him on your side."
"She has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."
"Her mediation practice is exceptional; she is also a great solicitor and has a breadth of skill which is really useful."
"He is really experienced and wise. He has a lovely manner about him and clients feel safe with him."
"Jo Wescott is top notch and widely recognised as a rising star throughout the profession. She brings a winning combination of great judgement, an immense work ethic, and a relaxed and charming way with opponents and clients alike. Someone you want on your side”
"Osbornes is pre-eminent for family law in North London. Mark Freedman is a real rainmaker. He is an excellent lawyer and has a top-notch practice"
Mark Freedman is intelligent and personable and has a good selection of high-net work cases.
"Exceptional value for money. Highly competent and reasonably priced. Mark Freedman: one of the best in the field."
"Client-focused. Ready to fight the clients’ corner, but also ready where possible to steer client from unnecessary dispute. Mark Freedman – very experienced, with good instinct for the eventual result. Clients love him and he thinks ahead and directs the client to the best result for the client."
Mark Freedman is a serious player. A fearless family law litigator, who protects his clients’ interests passionately.
Breadth of knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile is what makes it stand out. Mark Freedman – devoted to his clients
Lisa Pepper is particularly recognised for her role as a mediator in complex cross-border disputes. Her practice also includes handling prenuptial agreements and issues arising from the dissolution of civil partnerships.
Mark Freedman frequently takes on high-value financial and children proceedings that involve complex tax, trust and accounting issues. Sources praise the "tenacity and common sense" he brings to challenging disputes.
"Mark is very experienced, competent, good with clients and takes a sensible approach to cases. He knows exactly what he's doing."
"An exceptional outfit. They take on difficult cases, fight hard and win."
"The team frequently deals with cross-border estates for high–net-worth individuals."
"Mark Freedman is a real heavyweight litigator who has dealt with some very significant cases."
"Mark Freedman boxes clever, keeps his powder dry and when it comes to the end game he negotiates a really good deal."
"Mark Freedman has a specific focus on high-net-worth divorces and finance cases where there are overseas assets and trusts."
"The very personable and client-focused Lisa Pepper."
"Joanne Wescott is a very approachable and sensible opponent."
"Lisa Pepper somehow manages to get parties to settle on matters where there isn’t much hope to start out with."
"Lisa can handle the large and complicated cases but takes equal care with the smaller cases. She is a highly skilled mediator who is a consummate professional."
"Well-regarded family practice assisting clients with substantial matrimonial disputes and sensitive children proceedings."
"Mark Freedman draws acclaim for his work in high net worth divorce cases, including those involving company structures, family trusts and overseas assets."
"He never gives up. He fights for you to the end and has boundless energy."
Mark Freedman advises high-net-worth clients and knows his stuff.
Highly regarded for his experience as a litigation and mediation expertise, Mark Freedman is tenacious and determined. Clients really feel that he is fighting their corner.
Andrew handled a very complex, 3 year legal battle for me, with a tremendous amount of patience and professionalism. He is very approachable, always kept me up to date, by phone and e-mail, and responded very quickly to my queries with excellent advice, sound strategic thinking and strong letters to put the other side under pressure. With top contacts for barristers, joint experts and mediation.
[The Family Law department] handles significant matrimonial finance cases and complex nuptial agreements. Respected for its expertise in cross-border children law matters.
Mark Freedman represents high net worth clients in complex financial disputes. Sources say that "he's a determined negotiator who'll always do the very best for his clients.
"Mark Freedman receives a lot of instructions from clients based abroad, often relating to complex divorce proceedings. Sources say: “His main strengths are his enthusiastic passion for the job in hand and his total dedication to his clients.”
Common disputes over children
Disputes can arise over your children and their upbringing, even after divorce or separation. Our solicitors have extensive experience of advising parents and negotiating agreements in a range of situations including:
where the children will live and what amount of time they will spend with each parent and their extended family members;
- where the children will spend Christmas, birthdays, and holidays
- permission to relocate to another part of the UK or even abroad with one parent;
- abduction of children;
- where the children will go to school;
- whether the children should have a change of surname following separation;
- disagreement over options for medical treatments;
- disagreement over religious upbringing and practices;
- disputes over payment for specialist equipment, lessons or trips, for example for sports or music;
- concerns about a new partner or spouse.
What you can expect from our children lawyers
You will likely face your former spouse on many occasions in the future because of your children, whether at school or sporting events, graduation, or a wedding, so it is important to keep communication channels open as much as possible.
Our lawyers who are all accredited members of Resolution aim to maintain a civil relationship with your former partner. We also have a number of specialist solicitors that are accredited members of the Law Society’s Children Act panel and can support you through court proceedings if required.
We will advise you on your rights and options and will negotiate firmly on your behalf to obtain the best agreement regarding your children’s living arrangements, financial provision, and implications for the family home.
Your next step
The first thing to do is to contact us. One of our expert lawyers will take a history of your circumstances and discuss your desired outcome. Then they will explain your options, likely timescales, and costs.
If you have a prenuptial or a post-nuptial agreement, then we will need to see a copy of this document.
If you are overseas or outside London, we have high speed video conferencing facilities and a full online service to ensure you are kept up-to-date and fully appraised of your case and legal options.