Latest News

Latest News from Susan Clark Solicitor - Children and Divorce

Dealing with divorce and financial issues, arbitration, separation agreements, civil partnerships breakdowns, unmarried partner disputes, living together agreements, issues surrounding children, pre-nupital agreements, domestic violence issues.

Internal relocation of children

Relocation of children

This is a situation where one parent seeks to move their child to another part of the United Kingdom and the other parent objects. The existing law has suggested that the left behind parent might have to demonstrate ‘exceptional circumstances’ in order to prevent the move, a test that does not apply in international cases. In a recent decision by the Court of Appeal, a Judge decided that there should be no distinction between an internal and international relocation and that the only principle to be applied in either situation is that the child’s welfare is paramount.

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A new online service has been launched to help separated parents to communicate over their children’s lives. ParentPlan aims to enable co-parents to communicate effectively. The aim of ParentPlan is to enable parents to keep up to date with their children even if they do not see them every day.

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Shared Parental Guidelines

shared parental guidelines

I was recently looking at a Court website in the USA and saw the following which everyone with children who is separating should read and bear in mind.

1 Children have a right to a loving, open, and continuing relationship with both parents. They have the right to express love, affection and respect for one parent in the presence of the other parent.

2 Neither parent shall alienate a child's affection for the other parent.


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Parental Responsibility


This is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’. Where parents are married they automatically both have parental responsibility. Where the parents are unmarried the father has parental responsibility if he is named on the birth certificate if the birth was registered after 1st December 2003.

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UK relocation rights

Moving house within England and Wales following divorce does not in itself have any restrictions. If the children are not at school then you are free to move with the children without the consent of the other parent. Moving outside of England and Wales has restrictions and you cannot do this without leave of the court or agreement with the other parent, this includes Scotland.

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What happens if we can’t agree over choice of schools?

disagreement over choice of schools

There has been a case decided recently where a Judge has set out three criteria the courts would use when the parents can’t agree where a child should go to school. The situation is that neither parent has the sole right to decide where a child goes to school if they both have parental responsibilities which is the case is most situations.

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How do you deal with Dating again after Divorce?

Dating again after divorce

Most children, and it doesn’t matter how old they are, never give up the dream that their divorced parents may someday get back together. This could make moving on and dating other people very difficult and it is important to be extremely supportive to your children and understanding if you decide to introduce a new partner into their lives. When you first speak to your children about the matter you may have a reaction of anger or a complete refusal to talk about it. You also need to take into account the age of the child.

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Can I see my Grandchildren?

Grandparents rights after divorce

It can be extremely difficult for grandparents when they are excluded from their grandchildren’s lives following a divorce. This can be heartbreaking for grandparents and the children also. The difficulty is, unfortunately, the grandparents have very few rights when it comes to seeing their grandchildren. It is possible to apply to the court for an order that you be allowed to see your grandchildren but if your son or daughter-in-law is very hostile to the idea then often such applications can be refused because to force the issue may well be damaging to the grandchildren.

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University Fees

children's university fees

The area of law concerning the rights of children over 18 in full-time education is complicated. The Child Support Agency can only assess maintenance for children at the latest until the September after A-Levels. Usually the Child Support Agency ceases to have jurisdiction when child benefit ceases to be paid. Therefore in the event of a dispute as to what sums should be paid after this date, the matter has to return to the court.

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Can I change my child’s name?

changing my child's name via deed pool

In short the answer generally is no. There is a duty to register a child’s birth which lies with the father and a mother when they are married. When parties are unmarried this lies with the mother. Once a surname has been entered in the register this cannot be changed. It is only possible to change the name by which a child is named by Deed Poll.

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Relocation within the UK

moving house to another area within the UK

If you wish to move anywhere within England and Wales you can do so without your partner/spouses consent even when there are children. However, what you do need permission for is to change the children’s school. Therefore if the area that you are moving to necessitates a change of school then this really has the same effect as preventing the move.

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Changes to the Child Support System

Child Support System Change 2012

Changes are afoot to the Child Support System. These were due to be implemented in October 2012 but have been delayed probably to sometime in 2013. There will be hurdles and disincentives to encourage parents to enter into a private agreement outside of the Child Support Agency. These are referred to as family based arrangements (FBA’s).

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Tips for talking to children about divorce

talking to children about divorce

This is one of the most difficult areas of separation and divorce. It is always beneficial if both parents are present when telling children about the decision. However, you need to be aware of any potential conflict between you and the other parent and meeting the children together should only take place if you are both sure you can manage unresolved feelings in relation to the breakdown of the relationship. You should also discuss beforehand what you will tell the children.

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