About child maintenance

About child maintenance

What is child maintenance? Parents are legally responsible for meeting the financial cost of raising their children, even if they have separated. This is called ‘child maintenance’, which is also known as ‘child support’. Who is child maintenance for? Child maintenance is intended for children who fall into one of two categories: a) under-16s b) under-20s and in full-time education (but not higher than A-Level or its equivalent). Can child maintenance consist of anything other…

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About child maintenance >> Children

About child maintenance >> Children

Child maintenance is financial support towards a child’s everyday living costs. Separated parents can arrange child maintenance between themselves by making a family-based arrangement. They can also ask the CSA or courts to get involved. Find out about child maintenance and how to make an arrangement that works for you. What child maintenance is and why its important Child maintenance is usually regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a childs everyday living costs. The…

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Adopting a child from another country

Adopting a child from another country

When an individual or a couple who are habitually resident in the UK adopts a child from another country, this is known as ‘intercountry adoption’. The principles of intercountry adoption are contained within international conventions that apply to the UK and, in line with these, the Government only allows intercountry adoptions in the following circumstances: if the child cannot live with their birth parents or as part of a permanent family in their country of…

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Adopting a stepchild

Adopting a stepchild

If you live in England or Wales and are planning to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child, you need to inform your local council. You must do this at least three months before starting your adoption application with the court. If your application is successful, you will get parental responsibility (PR) for the child. Getting parental responsibility without adopting A step-parent can get parental responsibility for their spouse’s or partner’s child if either: both birth…

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Adoption

Adoption

The following amendments to the guidance apply whenever an application for, or in connection with, an intercountry adoption order is made. The courts listed in Appendix 1 to the guidance continue to remain designated as ‘adoption centres’. However, in view of the more specialised nature of intercountry adoption proceedings certain courts have now been designated as ”. Wherever possible, an intercountry adoption application should be issued at one of the designated intercountry adoption centres listed…

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Adoption – after applying to the court

Adoption – after applying to the court

What will happen when I have left the application with the court? You will be sent a form telling you that your application has been issued and a receipt for your fee (if you have paid one). Every case is different and the court’s decision about the next steps will depend on the details of your application, but it is likely that some or all of the following will happen: the court may ask for…

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Adoption – certificates of birth, marriage and death

Adoption – certificates of birth, marriage and death

Where can I get a copy of a certificate of death, marriage or civil partnership, or the child’s full birth certificate if I do not have one? If you were married in England or Wales, or the child was born in England or Wales, you can get a certified copy from: the office of the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the district in which you were married, or the district in which the…

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Adoption – confidentiality

Adoption – confidentiality

What should I do if I wish my identity to remain confidential? If you do not want your identity to be made known to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child you are intending to adopt, you may ask the court to issue you with a ‘serial number’. Any documents sent to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child will then show this number, not your personal details. In addition, if you and the parents…

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Adoption – consent of parents

Adoption – consent of parents

What if the child’s parents do not consent to the adoption? If the child’s birth parents or guardian have not consented to the adoption and you are asking the court to dispense with their consent, the court will need to be satisfied that: the parent or guardian cannot be found, or is incapable of giving consent, or the welfare of the child requires that their consent be dispensed with. You must set out on your…

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Adoption – directions hearings

Adoption – directions hearings

A first directions hearing is an appointment at which the court will consider your application and make decisions (known as ‘directions’) about such matters as: the timetable for filing any reports from an adoption agency, local authority or CAFCASS/Welsh family proceedings officer, and any other evidence; whether there are any mistakes or omissions in your application or supporting documents that need to be corrected; if the child was not placed with you by an adoption…

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Adoption >> Adoption And Fostering

Adoption >> Adoption And Fostering

| Page 3 of 4 The following county courts/District Registries of the High Court have been designated as Intercountry Adoption Centres for the purpose of this guidance: Birmingham Nottingham Liverpool Manchester Leeds Newcastle Principal Registry of the Family Division Cardiff Chester Bournemouth Bristol Exeter Portsmouth << Previous page | Next >>|  ^ Top |

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Adoption Documents

Adoption Documents

You will need the following documents when applying for an adoption order: The court will need: your completed Form A58 (Application for an Adoption Order), and three copies; a certified copy of the full birth certificate for the child or, if the child has previously been adopted, a certified copy of the entry in the Adopted Children Register. You may also have to provide any of the following, depending on your circumstances: if the child…

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Agreeing maintenance

Agreeing maintenance

For child maintenance, the parties can agree a deal privately, subject to approval by the court, or one parent can ask the Child Maintenance Service to make a decision. In the latter case, the service will gather information from both parents and then apply a strict formula to work out how much maintenance should be paid. Often this formula is used by parents negotiating a private arrangement. For spousal maintenance, things are less clear cut….

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Annulment

Annulment

In a minority of cases, annulment may be available as an alternative to divorce. An advantage of the process is that it can be applied for in the first year of marriage, whereas a divorce cannot. Annulment may also be a useful alternative for couples who have a religious or moral objection to divorce. Before you can obtain an annulment, however, you must prove that your marriage is either void or voidable . Void Marriage…

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Are parents allowed to smack their children?

Are parents allowed to smack their children?

Are parents allowed to smack their children?

For centuries people in this country have smacked their children as a means of discipline. It has generally been thought, at least in the UK, that so long as the force applied when smacking a child is not excessive, it is a perfectly acceptable parenting technique. However, this view has become more and more outdated, particularly in light of European Union legislation and the Human Rights Act. The legal stance The argument against smacking is…

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Arrangements if you have children

Arrangements if you have children

The court expects you and your partner to be able to agree where the children will live (‘residence’) and how you will arrange to see them (‘contact’). If you can do this between you, there is no need for a court order. You should continue to make major decisions about the children together (the law requires this where both parents have parental responsibility), but you can each act on your own if you need to…

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Attending family courts

Attending family courts

Family courts are special courts that deal with matters relating to family law. On this page you can find out about the kind of issues family courts deal with, and how the court proceedings work. Contact and residence When parents are separating, divorcing or applying to end a civil partnership, a decision needs to be made on arrangements for the children. If the parents cant agree on arrangements for their children (like where the children…

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Becoming a foster carer

Becoming a foster carer

Anyone can apply to be a foster carer, so long as they have the qualities needed to look after children who cannot live with their parents. There is no maximum age limit for being a foster carer. You can be a foster carer… whether you have your own children or not if you are single, married or living with a partner if you are in or out of work whether you live in your own…

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Breaking up if you have kids

Breaking up if you have kids

Your relationship with your partner has broken down and you must make big decisions about the future of your children and financial affairs. Even though you may be happy that your relationship has come to an end, your children may feel differently. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your children through the relationship breakdown and process of separation. 1. Avoid discussing serious issues or arguing in front of your children…

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Broken engagements – who gets the engagement ring?

Broken engagements – who gets the engagement ring?

You met at university a few years ago. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, and you’ve had your fair share of ups and downs along the way, but one day you decide: “what the hell, time to propose!” You promptly head down to the high-street jewellers and buy the biggest rock on the shelf. Questions like “who keeps the engagement ring?” or “what are the legal consequences of broken engagements?” don’t even register in…

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Bullying UK

Bullying UK

Contact details for Bullying UK, an organisation which provides help and advice for victims of bullying, their parents and schools. Formerly known as Bullying Online. Bullying UK Contact point Bullying UK Email address help@bullying.co.uk Website (opens new window) http://www.bullying.co.uk

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Can couples hide assets from each other during divorce?

Can couples hide assets from each other during divorce?

Couples are not allowed to hide their assets from each other during divorce and have a duty to disclose all relevant financial information to each other during the course of proceedings. Recent case law in this area has altered things but not to the extent that full disclosure is not required. The Hildebrand rules The ‘Hildebrand rules’ refers to a case between Mr and Mrs Hildebrand who, upon divorce and subsequent ancillary relief proceedings, Mrs…

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Can I take my child to live abroad without my ex’s permission?

Can I take my child to live abroad without my ex’s permission?

If a parent wishes to take a child permanently abroad, the permission of the other parent or the court must be sought. If you are considering relocating with your child to another country, you should consult a specialist solicitor for advice before doing so. If you require further help on a matter of family law you can use our solicitor directory to the right of this article to look for legal advice near you. Applying for leave…

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Care orders

Care orders

A care order is a court order that places a child under the care of a local authority. The local authority then shares parental responsibility for the child with the parents, and will make most of the important decisions about the child’s upringing, such as where they live and how they are educated. Why care orders are made A court can only make a care order if it is sure that: the child is suffering,…

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Care Proceedings: Can I get help to pay for a lawyer?

Care Proceedings: Can I get help to pay for a lawyer?

If you receive either a ‘letter before proceedings’ or a court notice, it is very important that you see a solicitor to get some legal advice immediately. You may be upset or angry or feel that nobody is listening to you, so you will need someone to represent you and explain what is happening. Choose a solicitor who knows the law about children and how the courts make decisions in these types of cases. These…

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Care Proceedings: How can I apply to end a care order?

Care Proceedings: How can I apply to end a care order?

You can ask the court to discharge (end) a care order, but it is not likely to agree unless there has been a real change in circumstances since the order was made. You may be able to get public funding (legal aid) to pay your solicitor’s costs for helping you with this but you will not automatically get it. You will have to make a good case and you may also be asked to pay…

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Care Proceedings: How do I prepare for the final hearing?

Care Proceedings: How do I prepare for the final hearing?

Your solicitor will receive copies of all the statements and reports filed during the case and also a copy of the council’s care plan, which sets out its plans for how your child should be cared for in the long term. It is important to read all these papers and talk to your solicitor about them. You should ask your solicitor to explain anything that is not clear. If English is not your first language,…

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Care Proceedings: How does the court make its decision?

Care Proceedings: How does the court make its decision?

The court can make a care or supervision order only if it believes that the ‘threshold criteria’ have been reached. The ‘threshold criteria’ mean that: your child has been seriously harmed or is at risk of being seriously harmed in the future; and this harm is because you have not given your child the care reasonably expected of a parent, or because your child is out of your control. Harm can include a child ‘seeing…

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Care Proceedings: What happens after an interim order is made?

Care Proceedings: What happens after an interim order is made?

Interim Care Orders are an order of a court that permits a temporary arrangement for care of a child to be imposed for up to eight weeks in the first instance. The award of an Interim Care Order is usually during proceedings for a Care Order, when the court requires a delay in proceedings. Applications for Care Orders are made under section 31 (1) (a) of the Children Act 1989, and are usually made because…

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Care Proceedings: What happens at the final hearing?

Care Proceedings: What happens at the final hearing?

Your solicitor or barrister may have an informal meeting on the day of the hearing with the solicitors or barristers working for the council and the guardian. Your solicitor or barrister will talk to you about what the council and the guardian are going to say about what is best for your child. It is important that you understand what they are suggesting and the full consequences before you agree to anything. It is your…

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Care Proceedings: What happens at the First Appointment?

Care Proceedings: What happens at the First Appointment?

The court will not make a final decision on the council’s application at the First Appointment. But it is still very important that you attend this hearing because the court will make temporary arrangements for your child and explain what you need to do before the final hearing. At this first hearing the court: makes orders (‘interim orders’) about where your child will live and who they will see from now until the final hearing…

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Care Proceedings: What happens when the council starts care proceedings?

Care Proceedings: What happens when the council starts care proceedings?

Care proceedings are started in the Family Proceedings Court. The court will want to be sure that the council has worked with you and your family to help you deal with its concerns about the child. The court will want to see various documents, including a record of discussions with the family, such as notes from any meetings you have had with the council or any plan your family has made resulting from a Family…

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Care Proceedings: What if the council thinks my child is in immediate danger?

Care Proceedings: What if the council thinks my child is in immediate danger?

If the council thinks your child is in immediate danger and needs to be made safe straight away, it can take certain steps to protect your child. It can: ask the person it believes is a danger to your child to leave the home or keep away from your child; discuss with you having your child looked after by the council in a way you agree to (known as ‘voluntary accommodation’); ask the police to…

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Care Proceedings: What must the council do after a care order is made?

Care Proceedings: What must the council do after a care order is made?

Once a care order is made, the council must always ensure that your child is kept safe and is well cared for. They should support you so that, unless the risks to your child are too high, they can return to your care, or to the care of other members of your family. If that is not possible, the council is likely to arrange for other people to care for your child on a long-term…

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Care Proceedings: What orders can the court make at the First Appointment?

Care Proceedings: What orders can the court make at the First Appointment?

The council will make proposals to the court about where your child should live and who they should see in the time until the final hearing of the case (known as an ‘interim care plan’). The court considers this and can then make an ‘interim order’ that says what should happen to your child for the time being. The court can make several types of interim order at the First Appointment: Interim care order (ICO)…

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Care Proceedings: What should happen before the council decides to apply for a care order?

Care Proceedings: What should happen before the council decides to apply for a care order?

Unless the council thinks your child is in immediate danger, it should normally take other steps before it decides to apply for a care order. Under the new legal system known as the Public Law Outline, the council should do all it can to support you in caring for your child without the need to go to court. If you can’t cope, the council should try to find out whether anyone in your child’s wider…

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Care Proceedings: What types of order can the court make?

Care Proceedings: What types of order can the court make?

When it comes to determining the individual(s) who will care for a child, the family court can make two different types of order – temporary (or ‘interim’) orders and final orders. Final orders come in a number of different forms: Supervision order If a ‘supervision order’ is granted by the court, this means that an individual has been given parental responsibility and responsibility for the child’s care. The local authority – in the form of…

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Care Proceedings: Who can make decisions about my childs care?

Care Proceedings: Who can make decisions about my childs care?

The right to decide how a child is raised and cared for rests with people who have ‘parental responsibility’ for him or her. Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe all the rights and duties that parents (and sometimes other people) have towards their children. For example, it gives you the right to agree to medical treatment for your child, or to your child being taken outside England and Wales. When a child…

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Care Proceedings: Who will represent my child during proceedings?

Care Proceedings: Who will represent my child during proceedings?

The court appoints an independent person, called a guardian, to give information and an opinion about what is best for your child. This person is from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). The guardian does not work for the council – they work for the court and represent your child in the case. The guardian’s job is to make sure that everyone works in the child’s best interests. They will find out…

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Care Proceedings: Why would the council get involved in my child’s care?

Care Proceedings: Why would the council get involved in my child’s care?

The Children’s Services Department in your local council is responsible for making sure that children are safe and are well cared for by their parents or the people looking after them. Sometimes the council receives information that makes them worried about a child’s welfare. If it believes that your child may be harmed, it will investigate and decide whether action is necessary to protect your child (this work is known as ‘child protection’). The council…

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Changing a birth record following a gender change

Changing a birth record following a gender change

If you have been issued a Gender Recognition Certificate, you may wish to get a new birth certificate showing your new gender and personal details. You can do this if your birth was registered in the UK. Applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate To apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate, visit the Gender Recognition Panel website, which contains details of how and when you can apply, and application forms. Gender Recognition Panel Opens new window…

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Changing a childs details on a birth record

Changing a childs details on a birth record

Changing a childs details on a birth record Although each birth registration is an historic record of the facts at the time of the birth, it may be possible to change the details or add to the information originally recorded under some circumstances. Correcting an error If errors are discovered in the birth registration, you can change or add details. You should contact the register office where the birth was registered to do this. Applications…

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Changing or adding a parents details to a birth record

Changing or adding a parents details to a birth record

Changing or adding a parents details to a birth record Your childs birth needs to be re-registered if you wish to add the natural fathers details or if the parents have married each other since the birth. Adding the natural fathers details If the parents are unmarried and would like the natural fathers details added to the birth record, they need to re-register the birth so that a new birth record can be created to…

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Changing your name: How do I prove I have a new name?

Changing your name: How do I prove I have a new name?

Once you have decided on a name, you can start using it and telling people about it straight away. Some people and organisations, such as your employer, GP and dentist, will probably accept the change without you needing to provide any evidence of it. Other organisations may ask you for documentary evidence. What they need will vary. Some organisations will accept your passport or driving licence as proof of your change of name, so it…

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Changing your name: Introduction

Changing your name: What if I am widowed?

Changing your name: What if I enter into a civil partnership?

Changing your name: What if I enter into a civil partnership?

If you enter into a civil partnership you have four options: you and your partner can continue using your own names; one of you can change your name to the other’s; you can form a double-barrelled name; or you can choose a new surname that you both use. If you or your partner want to change your name, you should tell the registrar at the office where your civil partnership will be registered well before…

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Changing your name: What sort of name can I choose?

Changing your name: What sort of name can I choose?

If you want to choose a completely new name (that is, something other than that of your husband or wife), there are a few things you should avoid. You should not choose a name that: has punctuation marks (except for hyphens or apostrophes) or numbers; or is offensive or blasphemous. You should not choose a name that might deceive or defraud, for example one beginning with Sir, Lady or Princess. In the same way, you…

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Child employment

Child employment

Until children reach the Mandatory School Leaving Age (MSLA), they can only work a certain number of hours per week and only do certain jobs. Find out what the law says about child employment. Compulsory school age Children are of compulsory school age up to the last Friday in June in the academic year of their 16th birthday. After this they have reached the MSLA and they can apply for their National Insurance Number and…

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Child maintenance and the Child Support Agency

Child maintenance and the Child Support Agency

The Child Support Agency is no longer the Government’s child maintenance service. It was replaced by the Child Maintenance Service on 25 November 2013. The role of the new service is to make sure that parents who live apart from their children contribute towards their children’s upkeep by paying child maintenance. The Child Maintenance Service use a standard process to work out how much child maintenance should be paid in each case, and to manage…

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Child maintenance: overview

Child maintenance: overview

Child maintenance means financial support that helps pay for a child’s everyday living costs. The parent who does not have the main day-to-day care of the child (the “non-resident parent”) pays the parent who does (the “resident parent”). Child maintenance should not be confused with spousal maintenance, which is discussed in a separate article. How much do I have to pay and who to? The simple answer is it depends. The law stipulates that a…

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Child welfare during court proceedings (Cafcass officers)

Child welfare during court proceedings (Cafcass officers)

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) looks after the welfare of children involved in family court proceedings. Cafcass officers are independent, qualified in social work and experienced in working with children and families. The roles carried out by Cafcass officers are listed below. Children’s Guardian Children’s Guardians represent the rights and interests of a child during cases where social services have become involved (public law proceedings) or in contested adoptions. In…

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Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)

CAFCASS is a non-departmental public body for England and Wales which works to safeguard and promote the welfare of children involved in family court proceedings and advise the courts on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests. Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) Contact point Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) Address 6th FloorSanctuary BuildingsGreat Smith StreetLondonSW1P 3BT Phone number 0844 353 3350 Fax 0844 353…

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Childrens human rights

Childrens human rights

The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) applies to all children and young people aged 17 and under. The Convention is separated into 54 ‘articles': most give children social, economic, cultural or civil and political rights; while others set out how governments must publicise or implement the Convention. What is the UNCRC? All children and young people up to the age of 18 years have all the rights in the Convention….

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Civil partnership checklist

Civil partnership checklist

Here is a checklist of things you need to consider before you register a civil partnership: Name changes A couple entering into a civil partnership has the same name change alternatives available to them as a married couple. They can either keep their separate surnames or one can take the other’s surname. If one partner adopts the other’s surname, then the civil partnership certificate will generally be adequate for purposes of changing most records. A…

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Cohabitee legal rights and responsibilities

Cohabitee legal rights and responsibilities

Cohabiting couples do have some legal protection due to recent changes in the law; however, they experience nowhere near the kind of protection associated with married couples or civil partnerships. It is therefore extremely important that if you are a cohabiting couple you are aware of exactly where you stand legally. This may come as a surprise to many people, and indeed it is a common misconception that people enter into some kind of ‘common-law’…

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County Court Adoption Centres

County Court Adoption Centres

If you are unable to get to the Adoption Centre where your hearing is due to take place, you can write to the judge asking for the hearing to be moved to another county court. In certain circumstances, the judge may allow the appointment to take place away from the Adoption Centre. If so, the court will send a notice to everyone involved in the case telling them the new time, date and location for…

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Divorce

Divorce

Divorce is the legal term given to the formal ending of a marriage. Although it is possible to end a relationship by both informal and formal separation, the latter involving a separation agreement, divorce is the formal and final legal route. Divorce is only available as an option to couples who have been married for at least one year. The marriage must be recognised and registered according to UK law. Divorces can be ‘uncontested’, which…

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Divorce and dissolution FAQs

Divorce and dissolution FAQs

What are the grounds for divorce? There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales: irretrievable breakdown of marriage. To prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage, one party must demonstrate one or more of the following ‘facts’: the other spouse has committed adultery; the behaviour of the other spouse has been unreasonable; a spouse has deserted the other for a period of two years; the spouses have been separated with consent for two years;…

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Divorce procedure

Divorce procedure

The UK has three legal systems – England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland – and each jurisdiction is governed by different laws. The divorce procedures in England/Wales and Northern Ireland are virtually identical, however, so for the purposes of this overview, we’ve lumped them together. Divorce procedure in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland The divorce procedure in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland has three main stages: service of the divorce petition; decree nisi; and…

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DIY or solicitor?

DIY or solicitor?

There are plenty of DIY divorce products and services on the market. In fact, some solicitors offer no-frills packages that are essentially DIY divorces with some limited legal support and back-up. So is there any point in spending money on legal fees when you can do it yourself? In some cases, such as an amicable divorce where there are no children and there is no real dispute as to how assets should be divided, there…

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DNA tests and child support

DNA tests and child support

If a parent wants to apply to the Child Support Agency, they must give the name of the other parent. But sometimes it happens that the other person denies being a parent. If this does happen, both people will be asked by the CSA to provide evidence to prove or deny their parentage. If they are unable to do so, the CSA is able to make both people take a DNA test. DNA testing If…

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Do I need a separation agreement?

Do I need a separation agreement?

As an alternative to divorce or, perhaps more accurately, a precursor to divorce, your solicitor may suggest you draw up a separation agreement. It may be that you are not ready to divorce, but want to separate and need to make arrangements for your children and financial affairs. In that situation, a separation agreement may be an appropriate way forward. Such an agreement does not have the finality of a consent order — which can…

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Do I need a solicitor when I get married?

Do I need a solicitor when I get married?

Beyond the basic question of whether you and your partner are ready to get hitched, there are several legal issues to consider, and the advice of a solicitor could be invaluable. Without further ado, here are a few reasons why you may need a solicitor before getting hitched: To draft a prenuptial agreement A prenuptial agreement may be useful where one or both partners bring considerable assets to the marriage / civil partnership. In effect,…

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Domestic problems: Dealing with emergencies

Domestic problems: Dealing with emergencies

What if my partner is violent to me or to the children? If you need to, first get yourself (and the children) away from your partner as soon as you can. Then call the police. If you have been badly hurt, go to your doctor or the local hospital. Explain what has happened and ask them to record your injuries so that they can give evidence about them if you need it. It may be…

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Ending a civil partnership

Ending a civil partnership

Find out what’s involved in ending a civil partnership. Follow these links to learn more: Reasons you can ‘dissolve’ a civil partnership You’ll need to show the court why your civil partnership should end – find out the reasons you can use to dissolve your civil partnership Filing court papers to end your civil partnership Find out how to start the legal process to end your civil partnership by sending a ‘dissolution petition’ to the…

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Ending a civil partnership

Ending a civil partnership

You may be able to make your own arrangements when you end a relationship. Or you may need help to formally end it and split things between you. Find out when you may be able to manage things yourselves and when you may find help from solicitors and mediators useful. How to get help and legal advice if youre splitting up The best support and advice you can get when youre ending your relationship will…

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Finding your original birth or adoption record

Finding your original birth or adoption record

Find your original birth or adoption record If you were adopted, at 18 you can apply for a certificate of your original birth registration form. Your birth relatives also have the right to apply for permission to contact you. Here’s some information about how to research your biological family. Finding your original birth details If you were adopted through a court in England or Wales and are aged 18 years or over, you can apply…

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Five things you can do to help your divorce case

Five things you can do to help your divorce case

The process of divorce can naturally provide a lot of stress, heartache and expense. Whilst the individuals involved have clearly decided they can no longer be married, staying amicable during the divorce process can save both parties a huge amount of money and reduce the emotional strain of having to fight things out at court. Here are five quick tips to help improve the process: Get legal advice at an early stage: if both parties…

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Forced marriages

Forced marriages

Forced marriages are marriages where one or both parties to the union have not willingly agreed to participate in the marriage. Although seemingly an old concept, forced marriage is still very much a reality for more than 1000 women and hundreds of men in the UK each year. Statistics for 2012 suggest that there were nearly 1500 enquiries to the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit, of which over 80% were from women: 13% involved girls below…

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Four ways to protect your children online

Four ways to protect your children online

Cyber-bullying and harassment; inadvertent exposure to hardcore pornography or violence; interaction with paedophiles on social networking sites: the internet may seem like a scary place to many parents. Rather than shy away from the brave new world of technology, however, there are a number of things you can do to protect your children online. In this article, we outline a few simple steps you can take to ensure your kids remain safe on the net….

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Gay couples rights – how to become joint parents

Gay couples rights – how to become joint parents

What guidance does the law give to lesbian couples in a civil partnership who want to become joint parents? Before civil partners are recognised as joint parents, the law requires them to satisfy a number of conditions. First, the couple must be in a civil partnership at the time the child is conceived. Registration as civil partners during (or after) birth will not be sufficient. Second, conception must occur through donor insemination or specialist fertility…

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Gay couples rights – parental responsibility

Gay couples rights – parental responsibility

What is ‘parental responsibility’? ‘Parental responsibility’ is defined in section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 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.” In practice, parental responsibility includes the right to determine a child’s name, education, religious upbringing, medical treatment and living arrangements. Which laws deal with parental responsibility? The Children Act 1989, The Human Fertilisation…

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Getting a divorce

Getting a divorce

Getting a divorce starts with a form called a ‘petition for divorce’, otherwise known as Form D8. You will need to fill in three copies; one for you, one for the court and one for your husband or wife. Starting the divorce process Once you have filled in a petition, which you can get from a solicitor, some stationers, or the HM Courts Service website, take it to a divorce county court or to the…

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Getting hitched FAQs

Getting hitched FAQs

Who can marry in the UK? In the UK, men and women may marry if they are over 16 and not married or in a civil partnership with someone else. Individuals aged 16 or 17 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, however, can only marry if they obtain their parents’ consent. Interesting fact: until as recently as 1929, girls as young as 12 and boys as young as 14 could legally marry in Scotland. Moreover,…

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Getting married or forming a civil partnership

Getting married or forming a civil partnership

If you want a religious marriage ceremony, you can get married in England and Wales in an Anglican church or any other religious building registered for marriage. For civil marriages or civil partnerships, you can attend a register office or an approved venue. Religious marriages If you wish to be married in the Church of England or Church in Wales, speak to the vicar of the church in which you wish to marry. There is…

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Grounds for divorce

Grounds for divorce

The UK has three legal systems – England/Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland – and each jurisdiction is governed by different laws. The grounds for divorce in England/Wales and Northern Ireland are virtually identical, however, so for the purposes of this overview, we’ve lumped them together. 1. Grounds for divorce in England, Wales and Northern Ireland To end a marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must demonstrate that it has broken down irretrievably. You…

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Home Schooling

Home Schooling

Can I home school my child or children? UK law does allow you to home school your child or children. Furthermore, you do not have to follow the National Curriculum if you home school your child or children. However, there are certain procedures you must abide by to home school your child legally. What are the advantages of home schooling? There are a number of advantages to home schooling your child or children. They are:…

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How an adoption is recorded

How an adoption is recorded

Since 1927, all adoptions granted by the courts in England and Wales, and some overseas adoptions, are recorded in the Adopted Children Register. The register is not open to public search or inspection, but adopted persons and parents can apply to receive adoption certificates. If a child is born and adopted in England or Wales Registering an adoption can take up to six weeks, from the time the court issues the adoption order to the…

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How do I register an overseas marriage or civil partnership?

How do I register an overseas marriage or civil partnership?

You cannot register an overseas ceremony at a register office. However, you can apply to have your documents sent from the relevant country and deposited with the General Register Office (GRO). You can then get copies of your marriage or civil partnership record more easily. What you need to do You can create a record of your overseas marriage or civil partnership at any time after the ceremony. You need to get the original documents,…

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How is living together different from being married?

How is living together different from being married?

The debate over cohabitation or marriage is one that many couples are considering, and it seems that this discussion is the reality for more and more people, as statistics from 2012 suggest that the number of cohabiting couples has almost doubled in the past 15 years, to 2.9m in 2012 from 1.5m in 1996. Cohabitation has become the default for many young couples, who live together because either they are not yet ready to marry,…

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How much does a divorce cost?

How much does a divorce cost?

In 2006, Norwich Union (now called Aviva) published a study on the Cost of Divorce. The study said the average divorce costs a couple around £39,000 — this figure includes things like the cost of setting up a new home, buying personal items (e.g., a second car), and lost personal savings. As for legal fees, the study estimated that on average each divorcee spends around £1,800.  Divorce cost  Average divorce  cost per person  (£)  Legal fees…

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How to obtain family records

How to obtain family records

If you are trying to piece together your family history then birth, marriage and death certificates can be crucial. The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) oversees the registration of births, marriage, civil partnerships, deaths, adoptions and stillbirths and holds a wide range of records that may help you to trace your family tree, starting from 1837. Alternatively, you may just need to obtain an official replacement certificate, which you can also order…

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How to protect your assets during a divorce

How to protect your assets during a divorce

One of the most complex and important tasks during a divorce is the financial settlement. Therefore, it is important to contact a solicitor to provide you with comprehensive advice on all aspects of financial matters arising out of a divorce. You may also wish to consider approaching a solicitor to discuss the possibility of reaching a collaborative prenuptial agreement with your partner prior to marriage/civil partnership in order to minimise litigation in the event of…

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If you have children

If you have children

Ending a relationship is never easy, and if you have married then there is the legal aspect of getting a divorce to consider as well. Divorce is often complex, and one of the most controversial and difficult decisions is to determine what happens to your children if you divorce. Divorce occurs when a marriage reaches a point where it has irretrievably broken down. As a result, in the eyes of the law the marriage no…

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If you or your partner dies

If you or your partner dies

Unmarried partners do not inherit from each other automatically the way married couples do. Instead, if you die without making a will (‘intestate’), your property will go to any children you have. If you don’t have children, it will go to your parents or other members of your blood-related family. This means that if you are living together and you want your partner to benefit when you die, it is vital to make a will….

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If you split up

If you split up

It is probably a good idea to get some specialist advice from a solicitor if you are thinking about splitting up. He or she will tell you where you stand and help you work out your options. You may decide, after a first interview, that you can sort things out yourself, but at least you will do this knowing about your legal position. You should try to find a solicitor who has experience of dealing…

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Information you need to order a birth, death or marriage certificate

Information you need to order a birth, death or marriage certificate

There are certain details you may need to order a birth, marriage, adoption, stillbirth, or death certificate. Find out the information you need to provide and how it will help you get the right certificate index reference. Information you should provide Births full name date of birth place of birth parents names, including mothers maiden name – this is a requirement for any births registered within the last 50 years Marriages full names of bride…

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Intercountry adoption

Intercountry adoption

Although there are many children in the UK who are looking for an adoptive family, there are also many children overseas who need homes. You can give them the opportunity to belong to a permanent family, but there are rules and regulations you need to be aware of. The regulations for intercountry adoption Intercountry adoption is allowed in circumstances where: the child cannot be cared for in a safe environment in their own country the…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 1 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 1 of 14

| Page 1 of 14 This guidance is also available in pdf format. This leaflet is intended for anyone who is thinking of applying to a court in England and Wales for an adoption order under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 where: the child, before being brought to the UK for adoption, was habitually resident in a country or territory outside the British Islands; the child to be adopted is habitually resident outside the…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 10 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 10 of 14

| Page 10 of 14 A fee is payable for all adoption applications. Please ask the court staff for details or for a copy of the leaflet EX50 – County Court Fees, which is also available on our website (www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk). Alternatively, the court staff can tell you how much the fee is. Your financial situation may mean that you do not have to pay a court fee, for example, if you are receiving a particular…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 11 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 11 of 14

The Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention page 11 of 14: The court will need: Your completed form A59 Application for a Convention adoption order, and three copies; and where the UK is the child’s place of birth, a certified copy of the full birth certificate for the child or, if the child has previously been adopted, a certified copy of the entry in the Adopted Children Register; where the child was born outside…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 12 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 12 of 14

| Page 12 of 14 If you were married in England or Wales, or the child was born in England or Wales, you can get a certified copy from: The office of the Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the district in which you were married, or the district in which the child was born. You can get the address from the telephone book. The Registrar General, ONS Southport, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Birkdale,…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 13 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 13 of 14

| Page 13 of 14 If you do not want your identity to be known to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child you are intending to adopt, you may ask the court to issue you with a “serial number”. Once the court has issued a serial number, any documents sent to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child show this number instead of any personal details about you or the other applicant. In addition,…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 14 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 14 of 14

| Page 14 of 14 Whenever an application for a Convention adoption order is made, the court will appoint a Children’s Guardian to act on behalf of the child (unless the court is satisfied that it is not necessary to do so to safeguard the interests of the child). The Children’s Guardian must make a report to the court advising on the interests of the child and give any other advice the court asks for….

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 2 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 2 of 14

| Page 2 of 14 “Intercountry adoption” is a general term referring to the adoption of a child who is resident abroad by adopters who are resident in the UK, and to the adoption of a child resident in the UK by adopters living overseas. The adoption may be: a Convention case – where the child and the adopters are resident in different countries that are contracting States to (that is, the States have “signed…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 3 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 3 of 14

In some cases a full adoption effected outside the UK will be recognised under UK law. A full adoption under the Convention and a full adoption effected in a country that is on the designated list will both be recognised under UK law, so there is no need to apply for an adoption order in respect of the child in the UK. If you think this may apply to your circumstances, you should seek advice…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 4 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 4 of 14

| Page 4 of 14 The “Hague Convention” means the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption concluded at The Hague on 29 May 1993. The Convention provides a framework for the process of intercountry adoptions which is aimed at protecting the best interests of the child and establishes a system of co-operation between contracting countries to prevent the abduction, sale, or the trafficking of children. The framework set out…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 5 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 5 of 14

Under a full adoption, the child is to be treated in law as not being the child of any person other than the adopter or adopters. In a simple adoption, although a new and permanent legal relationship is created between the adopters and the child, not all ties with the birth parents are totally severed. United Kingdom law only recognises and grants full adoptions, but the Convention provides for the recognition of both types of…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 6 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 6 of 14

| Page 6 of 14 An up to date list of countries that have signed up to the Hague Convention is available from http://hcch.e-vision.nl/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=69 In any type of intercountry adoption, all adopters have to go through the same assessment and approval process. Your first step should be to contact your local authority social services department or a voluntary adoption agency that has been approved for intercountry work. The local authority or adoption agency will ask…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 7 0f 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 7 0f 14

| Page 7 of 14 If you are assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from your chosen country, your application will be forwarded to the Department for Education and Skills if you live in England, or to the National Assembly for Wales. These two Government Departments are “Central Authorities” with respect to intercountry adoptions. The Central Authority is responsible for checking that your application complies with the relevant legal requirements and that all necessary…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 8 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 8 of 14

| Page 8 of 14 You should start your application in one of the specialist intercountry adoption courts listed below: Birmingham, Nottingham Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne Chester, Liverpool, Manchester Principal Registry of the Family Division (London) Cardiff Exeter, Bristol, Bournemouth, Portsmouth These courts have adoption judges and dedicated court staff who are experienced in dealing with intercountry work. The court staff will be happy to advise you on the court procedure, but they cannot give…

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Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 9 of 14

Intercountry Adoption and the 1993 Hague Convention 9 of 14

| Page 9 of 14 A couple may apply to a court in England and Wales for an adoption order provided: at the time the adoption order is made, both members of the couple are at least 21 years of age; and both have had their permanent home in the British Islands for at least one year immediately before the application; or their permanent home is in a Convention country outside the British Islands on…

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Intercountry Adoption Centres

Intercountry Adoption Centres

Introduction 1. In January 2008, the President of the Family Division issued revised  intercountry adoption guidance entitled “Adoption Proceedings  Intercountry Adoption Centres (A20(1)). It set out the courts in which  intercountry adoption proceedings must be commenced and which judges  are approved to hear these proceedings. The revised guidance reflected the  Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005 which came into force on  30 December 2005 giving effect to the Adoption and Children Act 2002  (the Act). 2….

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Is stem-cell research illegal?

Is stem-cell research illegal?

The UK has shown considerable lead and strength in stem-cell research. Whilst it is not illegal in the UK, it is well regulated and stem-cell research on human embryos is only allowed for some purposes. What is stem cell research? Stem cells are the ‘building blocks’ for every type of cell in the body, capable of developing into almost all other types of cell and tissue. They occur in the very early (five day) embryo…

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Judicial separation

Judicial separation

Judicial separation is sometimes, albeit rarely, relied on as an alternative to divorce. In the main, only those who have a religious or moral objection to divorce seek one. Unlike divorce, you can seek a judicial separation at any time after marriage. You do not have to wait one year. This may be another reason why people pursue it over divorce. Likewise, you might seek a judicial separation if you’re unable to prove your marriage…

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Keeping your child safe from abuse

Keeping your child safe from abuse

Simply talking to your child may be your first step in keeping them safe from child abuse. You are more likely to discover any threat to your child’s safety if you have an open and trusting relationship with them. If you suspect a child is being abused, find out who to contact. Report suspected child abuse If you suspect that a child is being abused, report it to the police or local social services. If…

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Lesbian and gay couples rights – adopting children

Lesbian and gay couples rights – adopting children

Which laws control the adoption rights of lesbian and gay couples? The Adoption and Children Act 2002 provides that an application to adopt a child in England and Wales can be made either by a single person or a couple. Prior to the Act, there was a requirement that a couple was married. The Act removed this condition, thereby enabling same-sex couples (who cannot get “married”, but can enter into a civil partnership) to apply…

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Living Together and Your Rights if you separate: Pensions

Living Together and Your Rights if you separate: Pensions

Pension schemes vary widely in their terms and in the benefits they provide. So it is not possible to give detailed advice in this leaflet. The following points are some of the things you should consider when looking at your pension scheme or choosing one. If you die during your working life, most schemes will pay a ‘death-in-service’ lump-sum payment and a regular income to your dependants. If you reach retirement age, you can generally…

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Making a living-together agreement

Making a living-together agreement

What is the legal significance of a living-together agreement for unmarried couples? In England and Wales, when married couples divorce or civil partnerships dissolve, both parties can assert their legal right to maintenance and their share of assets including property and inherited property. According to research by Co-op, approximately one-in-four people who live together think they have the same legal protection afforded to them as married couples. However, English law does not recognise the status…

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Making arrangements should you die

Making arrangements should you die

During a divorce, your property, assets and family circumstances may all be affected. Provisions you have made in an existing will may no longer be consistent with your wishes. If you are going through a divorce, it is important for you to plan for the future by reviewing your will. Why should I change my will? Divorce can sometimes take a long time to go through. To ensure that your assets pass as you want…

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Marriage and civil partnership

Marriage and civil partnership

You need to ‘give notice’ and supply some personal information and documents to be married or form a civil partnership. There are also laws concerning immigration and your residency status. Giving notice of marriage or civil partnership It is a legal requirement to give notice in advance of marriage or civil partnership. Your notice is publicly displayed for fifteen days, after which the authority for your marriage or civil partnership can be granted. Each notice…

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Marriage checklist

Marriage checklist

Here is a checklist of some of the major legal (and quasi-legal) items you need to consider if you are planning on getting married: Capacity to enter into marriage Each party to the marriage must have legal capacity to enter into the marriage. In particular, you need to be certain that: (i) neither party is in an existing marriage or civil partnership; (ii) each party is 18 or older (or 16 or older with parental…

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Marriage vs. cohabitation

Marriage vs. cohabitation

This table sets out an overview of some of the main legal differences between living together as a married couple (or in a civil partnership) and living together as cohabitants who are not married or in a civil partnership. It is important to recognise that, particularly in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, cohabiting partners have far fewer rights and obligations than couples who are married or in a civil partnership. In Scotland, cohabitants have some…

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Marriage, cohabitation and civil partnerships: your rights

Marriage, cohabitation and civil partnerships: your rights

Couples that are married, living together or in a civil partnership have certain rights. Find out what you need to know on the practical and legal issues surrounding getting married, living together and civil partnerships (for same-sex couples). Marriage If you are planning a wedding, you’ll need to provide some documents and personal information beforehand. You need to let your council know in advance of your plans. You must also be aware of laws concerning…

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Mediation to solve problems when you split up

Mediation to solve problems when you split up

Family mediation is a way of solving disagreements without involving the courts if your relationship has gone wrong. Find out how mediation works, how it can help you and where to find mediation services. How mediation can help you In many cases, mediation is a better way of sorting out family disputes than going to court. The court will expect you to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting if you’re divorcing or ending…

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Mediation to solve problems when you split up >> Divorce And Dissolution

Mediation to solve problems when you split up >> Divorce And Dissolution

Family mediation is a way of solving disagreements without involving the courts if your relationship has gone wrong. Find out how mediation works, how it can help you and where to find mediation services. How mediation can help you In many cases, mediation is a better way of sorting out family disputes than going to court. The court will expect you to have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting if youre divorcing or ending…

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Money and property

Money and property

The court has wide and flexible powers to make orders in divorce proceedings. It is only possible to give general information in this leaflet because each family is different. You should certainly take legal advice about your situation. The court can make orders for: maintenance (regular payments) for your partner; maintenance for your children but only in some circumstances – see ‘Supporting your children’); a lump sum for your partner (and for the children, if…

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Negotiating the division of money and property

Negotiating the division of money and property

Many people going through divorce say deciding how to allocate financial assets, such as property, pensions, and savings, and issues related to child and spousal maintenance is the most stressful part of splitting up. Except for child maintenance, there is no set formula to work out the division of money and property. The objective is simply to stretch joint assets to cover both parties’ needs in a way that is reasonable and fair. Parties can…

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Order a birth, marriage or death certificate

Order a birth, marriage or death certificate

Order birth, marriage and death certificates You can order certificates for births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales since 1837 through the General Register Office (GRO), or the local register office where the event took place. GRO can also supply certificates for some births, deaths and marriages registered overseas. What certificates are available? All certificates are exact copies of the full record made at the time of the birth, marriage or death. The…

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Order a civil partnership certificate

Order a civil partnership certificate

You can order a civil partnership certificate from the General Register Office or the local register office where the partnership was registered. What personal details are on a civil partnership certificate? There are two types of certificate following a civil partnership. One version includes the partners addresses at the time of registration and the other does not. Both types of certificate include: date and place of civil partnership name, date of birth and status of…

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Order a stillbirth certificate

Order a stillbirth certificate

Due to the sensitive nature of stillbirth registrations, only the mother or father of the child is able to apply for a certificate. The parent must be named on the birth certificate to do this. Should the parents be deceased, a brother or sister can apply if they can provide their parents dates of death. How long will it take? Your certificate is sent within 15 days of receipt of your application. How to order…

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Order an adoption certificate

Order an adoption certificate

You can order adoption certificates registered in England and Wales, and events registered overseas through the General Register Office. What is an adoption certificate? An adoption certificate is a replacement birth certificate inthe adopted person’s new name. It can be used for all legal purposes in place of the original birth certificate.The adoption certificate will also contain legal information relating to the adoption. A full adoption certificate shows date of birth, place and country of…

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Parental rights and responsibilities

Parental rights and responsibilities

What is parental responsibility? ‘Parental responsibility’ includes rights that many people take for granted simply by virtue of being a parent – mainly, the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. The law defines parental responsibility 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”. What are examples of parental responsibility? Parental responsibility has an impact on…

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Parental rights in education

Parental rights in education

Your child’s school years form an important part in their development and preparation for later life. It’s useful to know your rights in terms of your child’s education and what you can expect from their school. You should also know the correct procedures to take should you have a complaint. The education system and National Curriculum All state-maintained schools must use the National Curriculum, which sets out what most children should be taught. A school…

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Prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that a couple might sign before getting married or entering into a civil partnership. Its main purpose is to set out the basis on which the couple will divide assets if and when the marriage or civil partnership ends. Usually the primary concern is with assets that one or both of the partners owns prior to the marriage. Wealthy people will sometimes use a prenuptial agreement to protect their…

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Preparing children for the end of your relationship

Preparing children for the end of your relationship

If you’re splitting up, you will want to ensure that you protect your children from being upset and disturbed by the changes that will happen. Find out how best to approach the subject with them and get an overview of the arrangements you need to make with your ex-partner. Telling your children you are splitting up Telling your children that you are getting divorced or separating can be difficult. It helps to prepare what you…

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Property and debt division FAQs

Property and debt division FAQs

I live in a 3 bedroom house with our 2 children. My husband says we should sell the house and move into something cheaper so he can buy somewhere for himself. Can he force me to sell our home? The court certainly has the power to order the sale of the property. However, it will weigh up many different factors before making such a decision. One factor cutting against a sale would be if your…

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Registering and naming your baby

Registering and naming your baby

Your baby must be registered in the district where the birth took place within 42 days of the birth in England and Wales. This can often be done at the hospital before the mother goes home, or at your local register office. Legal requirements You must register the birth of your baby within 42 days of the birth in England and Wales. If you can’t go to the district where your baby was born you…

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Registering babies born abroad

Registering babies born abroad

In most countries babies born as British citizens or babies born to serving members of the British Armed Forces can be registered by the appropriate British authorities. However, you need to request this facility as there is no automatic notification of the birth to UK authorities. Babies born as British citizens abroad You can go to either the British High Commission or the British Consul in most countries to register a birth. Birth certificates are…

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Registering or changing a birth record following fertility treatment or surrogacy

Registering or changing a birth record following fertility treatment or surrogacy

If your child is conceived through fertility treatment or a surrogacy agreement, find out more how the birth is registered and what changes may then be made. Registering a baby conceived after fertility treatment or surrogacy The woman who gives birth, including a surrogate mother, is recorded as the child’s mother. The man regarded as the father will usually be the husband or partner who received treatment with the mother. In the case of a…

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Registering or changing a stillbirth record

Registering or changing a stillbirth record

It can be very daunting to have to face registering a stillbirth. This guidance is available to assist you through the process, or if you would prefer to speak to someone personally, contact your local register office. Why is registration necessary? Stillbirths in England and Wales must normally be registered within 42 days of the stillbirth but cannot be registered more than 3 months after its occurrence. This can often be done at the hospital…

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Relationship breakdown and your children

Relationship breakdown and your children

There is help available if you want to try to save your relationship. However, if the relationship has definitely broken down there are also ways you can help make the break-up as painless as possible for your children. Counselling A counsellor can help you discuss your problems and will help couples that want to save their relationship. Counsellors are trained to listen and to help you work out your own solutions to relationship problems. If…

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Rights for birth parents and guardians in the adoption process

Rights for birth parents and guardians in the adoption process

Stopping the adoption process If your child is in the process of being adopted and you don’t want this to happen, you should get legal advice immediately. The adoption agency can also provide you with the services of an independent support worker to advise you on your rights and responsibilities. Trying to stop the adoption process You may be able to get publicly funded legal advice and representation in court. A solicitor will be able…

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Section 8 orders

Section 8 orders

When a relationship breaks down, parents or certain individuals involved will need to reach an agreement regarding the arrangements for the children. When disagreements arise, which is common between parents, applications can be made to court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for residence or contact orders in respect of a child. Residence orders A residence order determines who the child will live with. If someone is granted a residence order, they will…

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Separation

Separation

Bringing a marriage to an end is difficult for everyone in the family, and the formalities and legal aspects of separation can often add another layer of confusion to an already complicated and emotional situation. Although ending a marriage legally is termed divorce, there are several options and steps before divorce that married couples should be aware of and consider. Often one of the first steps in any separation is an informal separation, which can…

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Separation checklist

Separation checklist

A separation can be an alternative to divorce. It is, however, important to note that people who are separated but not divorced cannot re-marry. If you and your partner believe that separation is the best approach for you, then here is a checklist of points to consider if you in planning your separation: Separation by agreement or judicial separation An initial question is whether you want (i) an informal separation, with no written agreement or…

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Setting up home

Setting up home

If you sort out your legal position properly when you start living together, it saves a great deal of difficulty and legal costs if you do eventually split up. It helps to be clear with each other about what you are agreeing to at the start, and what you both think is fair. It can be difficult to talk about this because it may feel as though you don’t trust each other. But if you…

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Seven things to consider before getting hitched abroad

Seven things to consider before getting hitched abroad

Ideas to think about before you get married in another country.  1. Getting the correct documentation Every country has its own requirements as to the documentation you need to present in order to get married. For example, some countries (such as the Republic of Ireland) will require you to present a Certificate of No Impediment issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO recommends that you consult the relevant country’s embassy in the…

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Sexting

Sexting

Over a third of 11 to 18-year-olds have received a sext message by phone or email, according to charity Beatbullying. Their research indicates sexting is escalating at an alarming rate in tune with rapid developments in digital technology. So what is sexting? Sexting occurs when children take indecent digital photos or videos of themselves and send them to others via electronic devices. Common ‘sexts’ include images of children exposing themselves, masturbating, and/or performing other sexual acts, as…

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Solicitors and the courts when ending a relationship

Solicitors and the courts when ending a relationship

You may be able to make your own arrangements when you end a relationship. Or you may need help to formally end it and split things between you. Find out when you may be able to manage things yourselves and when you may find help from solicitors and mediators useful. How to get help and legal advice if you’re splitting up The best support and advice you can get when you’re ending your relationship will…

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Sorting out other items you own

Sorting out other items you own

You should try to sort these things out between you – mediation can help. The legal position is broadly as follows: If you paid for something, you own it, unless you gave it to the other person as a gift. If you bought something together and split the cost equally, then you own it jointly and equally. If you bought something out of joint funds so it is not clear who paid for what, you…

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Sorting out the home

Sorting out the home

Sorting out your rights in the family home is more difficult than for a married couple. The court has more limited powers to change property interests to achieve a fair result. You have to rely on what you have agreed together and the contributions you have both made to the home. It can often be hard to prove what you have both said and done in the past. The broad principles that will influence the…

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Sperm, egg and embryo donation – legal rights and responsibilities

Sperm, egg and embryo donation – legal rights and responsibilities

What is sperm, egg and embryo donation? ‘Donation’ involves making a gift of sperm, eggs or embryos for use in fertility treatment or for research purposes. What medical, legal and ethical standards are applied at licensed fertility clinics? In the UK, donation takes place at fertility clinics licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Donations through an HFEA-licensed clinic must strictly adhere to the following standards in relation to a donor-conceived child: •  …

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Spousal maintenance FAQs

Spousal maintenance FAQs

My spouse has left me and is refusing to pay me anything to help with paying towards the mortgage and the bills. When can I apply for spousal maintenance and how long will it be before I receive it? After you or your spouse file a divorce petition, you can apply for what is known as ancillary relief and maintenance pending suit (using HM Court Service Form A ). Hopefully filing the application will encourage…

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Spousal maintenance: overview

Spousal maintenance: overview

The amount of spousal maintenance you’re entitled to (if any) depends on your individual circumstances. The court has wide discretion to decide what’s fair, which means it’s difficult to say exactly how much you will get. After complete financial disclosure, however, an experienced family law solicitor can usually provide a good estimate. You and your ex can of course agree spousal maintenance independently. But, if that’s not possible, you can ask the court to make…

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State benefits for people living together

State benefits for people living together

If you are living together as a couple, you can claim any ‘non-contributory’ benefits whether or not you are married or are civil partners. These include benefits that are now part of the tax credit system, such as child benefit and working tax credit. However, you will only be able to claim ‘contributory’ benefits, such as the state pension and widow’s or widower’s benefit, if you are married or civil partners. For more about benefits,…

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Supporting your children

Supporting your children

If you are going through a separation or divorce and children are involved it is recommended you come to agreement with you ex-partner as soon as possible concerning: where your child or children will live when they will spend time with each parent who will pay child maintenance What if my partner won’t come to an agreement? If you are having problems coming to an agreement with your ex-partner, a mediator might be a good…

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Tax matters

Tax matters

There are no tax concessions for unmarried couples. Inheritance tax is the main area that can cause difficulty and hardship. There is now almost no difference between married and unmarried couples where income tax is concerned. The married couple’s allowance ended in 2000, except where one or both people are over 65. If your estate is worth more than a certain amount when you die (called the ‘threshold’), then the estate is liable to inheritance…

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Ten things to consider before you make your relationship “official”

Ten things to consider before you make your relationship “official”

1. Capacity to enter into marriage or civil partnership A marriage or civil partnership is a legal contact, and to be valid the parties to the contract must have legal capacity to enter into it. Some of the features of ordinary contract law apply. For instance, a marriage might be invalid if one of the parties has entered into it under duress. The main concerns, though, as to capacity are that (i) neither party is…

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The Family Justice Council

The Family Justice Council

The National Family Justice Council (FJC) is an independent body that was created in 2004 in order to improve the experience for users of the family justice system, namely the families and children involved. It is funded by the Ministry of Justice. Who are the members of the Council? The national FJC has 30 members. It is an inter-disciplinary body, with its members consisting of a mix of people who work, use, or have an…

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The process of adopting a looked-after child

The process of adopting a looked-after child

A looked-after child is one who is in public care. This means they are looked after by a local authority (LA). To adopt a looked-after child you will need to submit an application to an adoption agency, which will assess your suitability. Then the court will decide whether to make an adoption order in your favour. Initial application for adoption The first thing you must do is contact your local adoption agency. They will: send…

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Tracing and contacting birth relatives and adopted adults

Tracing and contacting birth relatives and adopted adults

An adopted adult in search of their birth family members can use a professional intermediary, which allows the adopted adult to control the pace of proceedings. There are different methods of applying for information about an adopted adult, depending on whether the adoption occurred before or after 30 December 2005. What are ‘intermediary’ services? A number of bodies provide ‘intermediary’ services: local authorities registered voluntary adoption agencies adoption support agencies. The birth relative and adopted…

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Training and financial support for foster carers

Training and financial support for foster carers

A variety of practical and financial support will be made available to you if you become a foster carer. This includes an allowance to cover costs, tax relief and help getting a State Pension. Support and training All foster carers are reviewed every year by fostering service providersand receive any training needed to ensure they are suitable to continue fostering. They are also given a supervising social worker who visits on a regular basis to…

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Types of fostering

Types of fostering

There are different types of foster care depending on the needs of both the child and their family. These include short-term care for just a few days or weeks, to long-term placements, as well as care for disabled children or children with behavioural problems. Categories of foster care Emergency When children need somewhere safe to stay for a few nights Short-term When carers look after children for a few weeks or months, while plans are…

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Using the Adoption Contact Register

Using the Adoption Contact Register

The Adoption Contact Register puts adopted people and their birth relatives in touch with each other, if that is what they both wish. What and who is on the register You can only find the whereabouts of an adopted person or birth relative if they have chosen to be entered on the Contact Register. Applicants can also record a wish for specific or no contact with a named individual. Contacting a birth relative if you…

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What if I want to change my childs name?

What if I want to change my childs name?

This article explains whether it is legal to change a child’s name and how to go about it. In what circumstances can a parent change their child’s name? No special circumstances need to exist in order for a parent to change their child’s name. Provided the intention of the name change is not to deceive or defraud another person or entity, a child’s name can be changed at any time. Is there a legal procedure…

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What is adoption and who can apply?

What is adoption and who can apply?

Adoption is where a child legally becomes a member of a new family and has one or two new parents. If you are at least 21 years old and can provide a permanent, stable and caring home, your application to adopt will be welcomed. There is no upper age limit. Adoption orders Only a court can make an adoption order. The effect of the adoption order is that the birth parents no longer have any…

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What is collaborative law?

What is collaborative law?

The idea behind the process of collaborative law is to avoid running any dispute through the court system, and to try to reach an agreement between the parties through meetings with each other and their lawyers. Pros and cons One advantage of collaborative law is that every minute detail in regard to specific arrangements for children can be agreed, rather than be subject to a court order. It is also, in theory, a lot cheaper….

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What is meant by Next of Kin?

What is meant by Next of Kin?

The term ‘next of kin’ is often a source of confusion among many people who come across it, even those who use it. In certain circumstances, when you are admitted to hospital, start a new job or complete a life insurance form, you may be asked to give the name of your next of kin. What is the legal definition of ‘next of kin’? Next of kin has no definition in law. It is generally…

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What is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?

What is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is, in effect, a legal marriage between two people of the same sex. Although there are differences between a marriage and a civil partnership, a couple who form a civil partnership have the same legal rights as a married couple. This is because it would clearly be prejudicial and discriminatory if individuals of different sexes could marry and have more legal rights and protection than two people of the same sex who…

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What is the law on abortion?

What is the law on abortion?

Abortion is legal in the UK and has been since The Abortion Act in 1967. This Act allowed the legal use of an abortion in the UK so long as this procedure was done before a certain stage in the mother’s pregnancy. At the time, the Act was hugely controversial and there where many protests, particularly from religious sects and right-wing politicians. There are, of course, still ‘pro-life’ campaigners who protest against the use of…

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What mental health considerations for children should be considered during divorce?

What mental health considerations for children should be considered during divorce?

The statistics surrounding divorce can prove surprising to a casual observer, particularly with regard to couples that have children. In fact, over half of the couples divorcing in 2007 had at least one child aged under sixteen, meaning that over 110,000 children had parents who had officially separated. Furthermore, 20% of these were aged under five at the time of their parents’ divorce. Additionally, these figures fail to account for ‘unofficial’ records, such as those…

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What rights do grandparents have over their grandchildren?

What rights do grandparents have over their grandchildren?

As a grandparent, you do not have an automatic right to have contact with your grandchildren. However, the courts do acknowledge the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren. Unless there is evidence of abuse or violence, it would be highly unusual for a court to deny you access to your grandchildren.   Can grandparents apply for legal access to their grandchildren? Only individuals who have parental responsibility, such as parents,…

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When am I allowed to change my name?

When am I allowed to change my name?

You can change your name at any time, as long as you are 18 or older, and as long as you are not doing it to commit fraud. There is no legal process you must follow. All you need do is start using your new name and tell people that you now want to be known by this name. However, you may be asked for evidence of your name change, for example if you want…

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When may I want to change my name?

When may I want to change my name?

There are many reasons for wanting to change your name, including: if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, or want to take your partner’s name; if you get divorced, dissolve a civil partnership or end a long-term relationship; to take a double-barrelled name after you marry or enter into a civil partnership; as part of a change of gender; because you dislike your current name; to separate yourself from a particular person…

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When you are living together

When you are living together

This section highlights the law in various areas where your situation differs from that of a married couple. It also tells you what you can do to protect each other and your children, if this is possible. An unmarried mother has ‘parental responsibility’ automatically for her children. Parental responsibility is the legal term that means all the rights and duties of parenthood. The child’s father can only share parental responsibility if: he later marries the…

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Where to start

Where to start

It is a good idea to get some specialist advice from a solicitor when you start to think about separating or divorcing, particularly if there are money matters to deal with. The solicitor will tell you where you stand and help you work out your options. You may decide, after a first interview, that you can sort things out yourself, but at least you will do this knowing about your legal position. Solicitors are listed…

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Who should I tell about my name change?

Who should I tell about my name change?

Changing name is common for many of us as we go through life. Some choose to change their name after marriage or a civil ceremony, and others choose to revert back to their maiden name after a divorce. In some cases, people wish to change their name for other reasons, and in such circumstances the Deed Poll Office can draw up an agreement in order to change your name for official purposes such as passports…

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Young people leaving care

Young people leaving care

If youre moving from your final care placement, you will know that its a big step. Your statutory review meeting lets you talk about your future and where you want to live. You can also talk about the support you will need from your local authority. Preparing to leave local authority care Most young people in care leave their final placement around the time that they legally become an adult at 18. Making that leap…

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