Family law advice for the Christmas and New Year period
Hull Is This had a chat with Sarah Wasling, a Senior Solicitor in the Family team with considerable experience of helping people deal with changes in their families following a relationship breakdown.
“We help with a lot of enquiries in regard to separation and divorce throughout the year,” said Sarah. “There tends to be a lull during the run-up to Christmas, as everyone is very busy, money can be tight, and it’s a time that’s spent with family members. However, we then tend to see a lot of enquiries in January and February. This is usually because families have spent a lot of close time together, which can cause existing problems to become worse rather than better. It’s often around New Year’s resolution time that people start looking for information on how to get a divorce.
“If you require advice and support, we normally offer a fixed cost appointment which is charged at our hourly rate. A member of our team spends around an hour with you to gather the details and offer general advice on how the divorce process works. We’ll also talk through the option of mediation, financial matters and how to resolve them, and how to make a Will.”
Sarah explained that during this initial consultation, Rollits will go through the options available and provide an indication of cost.
“We do get people who have a chat with us about divorce, only to then change their minds after a consultation. This isn’t a problem, as we’re here to help people understand the options available to them and make an informed decision.”
A large factor during the discussion of separation or divorce can be the arrangements for children of the family.
“If there are issues with children, such as living arrangements and spending time with each parent, we’ll discuss these too,” said Sarah. “It might be that the two parties are already separated, divorced, or were never married in the first place. Whatever the case, it’s crucial that the two adults come to an agreement on how a child’s time is spent, ensuring the protection of their mental wellbeing and safety. Sometimes parties can’t decide whether time with their children at Christmas should be shared or alternated, which is where we can help by offering practical advice.”
As Sarah mentioned early on, people tend to leave the process of exploring separation, divorce and children matters until the new year has begun:
“These things take time, but that’s not to say you can’t think about next year now and set things in motion if it feels right. When the time comes, we can also talk you through elements such as how to decide which schools the children go to. Many couples manage to do this amicably but if there’s a disagreement, one of the parties will usually hire a solicitor to write a letter to the other parent or set up mediation.
“If none of that works, they can apply for a Child Arrangements Order, or if there’s one particular matter that needs dealing with, a Specific Issue Order can be obtained. In other cases a Prohibited Steps Order may be required, which prohibits one of the parents from a certain activity relating to the child, such as taking them on holiday abroad. We can also help with changes of names through deed poll, such as if a child wants to change their surname to that of a stepparent, which can only be done with the agreement of both parents.”
Sarah told us that Rollits can also help with paternity disputes, which involves a court order for DNA testing to take place. This then has implications on child maintenance.
“If you’re curious, worried or need some expert advice, simply get in touch with the team at Rollits and we’ll talk you through your options in a calm and reassuring way.”