Child welfare, family law and divorce through the courts

19th January 2015 by

Over the years Hollywood moviemakers have chosen relationship breakdown and divorce as a hot topic for cinematic entertainment and they have let us be present at several very acrimonious battles regarding children in divorce. Take Kramer v Kramer and even the amusing yet serious issues presented in Mrs Doubtfire; the picture they give us of children in divorce is not a very pretty one.

Thankfully, courtroom clashes of such intensity over children are relatively rare in the UK and spouses are far more likely to go to court over the division of marital property than whether one or other spouse is a fit parent.

Allegations of cruelty and unfit parents

However, cases where one parent accuses the other of being an ‘unfit’ parent, or perhaps of inflicting cruelty in the form of abuse, sexual or mental, on the children do occur and English and Welsh family law has a responsibility to ensure that, above all, the welfare of the children is maintained.

In cases where the family lawyers acting for the spouses present accusations of cruelty to a court, or where there are mental health issues involved, the expert evidence and advice of clinicians and psychiatrists will be sought to determine a suitable solution to the child welfare issues that the relationship breakdown has highlighted. Spouses and the children may be asked to attend sessions at a specialist clinic where the child welfare professionals will seek to determine the best advice to offer a court in relation to the family’s relationships and how the law can best serve the children.

On occasion, this may result in the children being removed from both parents and put into foster care until a court can determine how best to maintain the children’s best interests.

Agreeing arrangements for children

In many cases, especially where the parents of children are not alleging cruelty but perhaps cannot agree on arrangements for children on divorce or where one parent wishes to remove a child from its home area, before the case gets to court family lawyers will recommend the use of recognised mediation and conciliation services to help the couple determine what is best for the child.

Most courts see the best outcome as being one where the parents negotiate and agree the children arrangements independently, but if the divorcing spouses cannot agree, the family court will be forced to rule on the matter and a court order will be handed down.

Healys’ family lawyers in London and Brighton are here to help

If you are the parent of a child and you believe your ex-spouse is unfit to care for your children after divorce, or you have been accused of being an unfit parent yourself, the family lawyers at Healys can advise and represent you.

We have many years’ experience in acting for clients in contentious cases heard in High Court and work with top child welfare professionals who can help you and your ex-partner resolve issues out of court by means of mediation. However, when agreement cannot be reached we are committed to robust action and will fight your corner to ensure your rights, and those of your children, are maintained.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email catherine.taylor@healys.com for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email jane.sanders@healys.com.