My ex is turning the kids against me

When parents separate it is important that the children continue to have a good relationship with both parents.

It’s a challenging time for everyone involved, particularly if a divorce has been acrimonious or if there are issues over the child arrangements.

Sometimes one parent tries to turn their children against the other intentionally and sometimes they are just so negative about the other parent it impacts on the child’s opinion of the other parent.

Known as parental alienation, there is growing awareness about the issue in the Family Courts and it’s estimated to occur in 11-15% of divorce cases. There are varying degrees but at the extreme end it involves trying to cut off contact with the other parent.

The emotional impact on children who find themselves in this position is extremely detrimental to their well-being.

So, what can you do if you think your ex is turning your child against you?

Possible signs of parental alienation

The whole issue is very complex because children experiencing a huge life change such as a divorce may well be feeling very angry and upset, and end up lashing out at you. It doesn’t necessarily mean your ex is trying to turn them against you.

Possible signs may include:

  • Your ex-partner reduces your parenting time without good reason
  • Your children make excuses about why they don’t want to visit
  • Only receiving limited information about your children
  • Your child may be reluctant to show you affection
  • Your child’s behaviour towards you is different when the other parent is present

It will be heart-breaking to feel that you are losing your children.

Supporting children through a divorce

When looking at this issue, it’s helpful to think about the ways you can best support your children through a divorce. It’s widely agreed that children are far better off maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with both parents.

It can be a confusing and unhappy time for everyone and children can even blame themselves for the break-up.

The NSPCC offers the following advice for helping children deal with divorce:

  • Remind them that they are loved by both parents.
  • Be honest when talking about it but keep in mind the child’s age and understanding.
  • Avoid blame – don’t share any negative feelings the adults have about each other.
  • Keep up routines such as going to school and specific meal times.
  • Let them know they can talk about their feelings with you – explain that it’s okay to be sad, confused or angry.
  • Listen more than you speak – answering questions will help them to open up.

Why legal help is needed quickly

  • The can children end up in the middle of conflict between their parents being used as weapons.
  • If one parent is prevented from seeing the children for a period of time this can become the new “normal” and it can become more difficult to reinstate contact arrangements the more time that passes
  • The parent being denied contact with their children will feel frustrated but if they tackle it on their own the other parent may well make allegations of harassment or abuse which they may use to help justify their decision to reduce or stop contact.

Cases of this kind can be extremely complex, and our solicitors at Harrogate Family Law are experienced in dealing with all the issues, resolving disputes and supporting parents. It is vitally important to take the right approach from the outset in issues over the care of your children.  We recommend you take advice as soon as possible to obtain guidance to avoid making the situation worse.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

7 Unexpected Divorce Costs and How to Prepare for Them

Most people think about divorce costs in terms of legal fees and the expenses involved in selling the family home but there are a number of hidden costs that can hit the newly separated hard if they are unprepared.

This is one area where it pays to have a good family law expert on your side to help you anticipate the unexpected divorce costs and financial pressures that lie just around the corner.

Recent research by Aviva found that each year separating couples in the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet. This figure doesn’t include the cost of buying a new home.

Selling the family home

When a relationship is under stress, there can be a strong temptation to sell cheaply in order to move quickly. A good family lawyer will advise you not to compromise the value of your property for a swift sale. A far better option is to take some time to invest in its appearance before it goes on the market. A few thousand pounds spent on redecorating and tidying up things like grouting in the bathroom and loose rendering outside may be an unexpected divorce cost but it could add a lot more to the asset pot ultimately.

Buying a car

Even if there is more than one vehicle in the family, the spare car is often a small run around or company car and most couples share the use of a family-sized car to ferry the children to school and activities. When you split, you might need to consider investing in a family car each so that you can do the school run independently.

Paying for childcare

Depending on the age of your children, how close you will be living to one another and the care arrangements you put in place, you may need to arrange more private childcare after your divorce. This is a cost that is often overlooked when couples are working out how much they will need for future living costs.

Feelgood factors

The Aviva study found that many of the unanticipated costs of divorce involved lifestyle activities such as joining a gym or buying new clothes. One in seven people treat themselves to a post-divorce holiday and many also spend money on learning a new skill or hobby. Far from being frivolous, these kinds of costs are all part and parcel of rebuilding an independent life after divorce.

Planning for financial security

We receive a lot of positive feedback from clients about our prudent handling of their pension assets during divorce. This is an area where we add real value and it has been proven time and again that investment in expert legal advice from a family law firm like ours which specialises in pensions and financial settlements can make a huge difference to the outcome. Read our previous article for more information about dividing pensions on divorce

Seeking out expert financial advice can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t been financially independent before. It’s important to recognise that your financial future needs to be secure right through to retirement and not just for the short to medium term. Our clients often tell us that they have found the input of a financial advisor to be particularly helpful in identifying their long term financial needs and priorities, both during and after the divorce process.

The loss of bulk savings

Running a single home on two incomes is far more cost effective that running two separate homes. Married couples can buy groceries in bulk and share bills between them. One of the biggest shocks for divorcing couples is the fact that running two separate households is not just a case of splitting the finances and leaving each person to carry on with their own share. Even if two properties can be purchased from the sale of the marital home, the combined running costs of each are likely to be considerably higher than the costs of running one property.

Fair split  

One of the other unpredictable factors about divorce and money is how the assets will be split. This can have a massive impact on the amount of wealth each person comes away with. Our article about the factors used to determine the division of assets and whether a 50-50 split is fair gives a good summary of the way financial settlements are negotiated. Again, an experienced divorce solicitor will go through this information with you in detail and will ideally help you reach an amicable and fair agreement that eliminates nasty surprises and uncertainty.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2015 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2016 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

 

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

How to get the divorce process started

1. Protecting your position

Before the divorce process can get underway our priority will be to protect your position by making sure your spouse does not dispose of or hide assets and avoiding setting any precedents that could reduce the amount of the settlement you ultimately receive. You should also think carefully before leaving the family home as this could make it more difficult to say that it should be sold or transferred to you in the longer term. If your spouse has moved out and you are left with the house and the children we will make sure you have enough money to pay your bills.

2. Decide on the grounds for divorce

For a divorce to be granted you need to be able to demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by giving one of five reasons. Three of these only apply if you have been separated for more than two years. Otherwise, the options are adultery (which can be difficult to prove) and unreasonable behaviour.  I find that the vast majority of people opt for unreasonable behaviour. The behaviour does not have to be extreme. Moves are being made to introduce “no fault” divorce where one person does not have to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage but until that point couples have the best chance of remaining amicable if they don’t lay too much blame on the other party.

3. Be alert to the pitfalls

The sooner you can see a divorce solicitor, the better because each decision you make could have an impact on your future. Our legal knowledge and experience means we recognise the unique features in your case, spot potential problems and complications and take early action to iron out difficulties. Lawyers without our depth of experience may identify problems too late or miss them completely, costing you time, money and unnecessary stress.We will make sure that that you get a fair financial settlement. This will involve ensuring that your spouse has disclosed all of their assets and income.  Importantly, we will also ensure that the financial settlement is based on correct information in terms or making sure that the assets and income have been valued fairly; there are various different ways to value assets, so we will make sure that they have been properly valued and not understated. We will also alert you to other pitfalls and factors that might have financial implications such as tax and will use our skill and experience to negotiate a fair financial settlement.

 4. Find a solicitor you feel comfortable with

Your solicitor will be supporting you through one of the most challenging times of your life and it’s important you find someone you have confidence in. Our aim is to put you at ease from the moment you walk into our offices. We understand that you are facing situations you never wanted or expected to face and it is our job to help you make the right decisions for you and your family. We will be on your side and are here to reduce the burden and worry of the coming months.

5. Acknowledgment of service

If your spouse has applied for a divorce you will receive a copy of the divorce petition in the post with an acknowledgment of service form. If you haven’t already sought legal advice you will need to do so quickly, before confirming receipt and within the time limit specified on the papers. Try not to focus on the details given to prove unreasonable behaviour. Look on this as a necessary measure to get the divorce process underway in the absence of a no fault divorce system.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

5 Things You Need to Think About Before You Divorce

When you first start thinking about divorce and all the challenges that lie ahead it can all feel pretty overwhelming.  In our experience, the way things are handled in the initial stages before you divorce can also have a big impact on the outcome and how long the whole process takes.

Here are 5 things to think about to put you on the right track before you divorce:

Where do I start?

Most people who seek our advice are completely at a loss to know where to start first.  They don’t know what to expect both in terms of the outcome or how to get there. Naturally, they are worried about the future and what it might hold for them. Some may have no idea what money there is available because the other handled the finances during the marriage. Don’t let this stop you from taking legal advice. We can help you understand how to move forward and by seeking advice early, you are putting yourself in the best position to secure a fair outcome for you and your family.

I’m more concerned about my children than the money

For most parents the financial arrangements are secondary to the arrangements for the children. This is understandable and when people first approach us we spend time helping them plan how they will discuss the divorce with their children and how they will continue to parent together after divorce. Sorting out the arrangements for your children can be very emotional and our job is to make sure you don’t lose sight of the financial negotiations, so that you and your family can enjoy a secure future once all this is behind you.

I don’t want to fight for every penny

Most people we see want to reach an agreement with their husband or wife quickly and don’t want to fight about it but they are also worried about what the future holds and want to be financially secure. Don’t feel guilty about seeking legal advice about finances early on.  You will be better informed about your options when you are discussing arrangements with your husband or wife and that knowledge may help you reach a workable agreement and avoid you agreeing something which may leave you vulnerable. If you are keen to remain amicable throughout read our advice on how to avoid going to court.

How do I find out what money there is?

You will need to be open with one another and share your financial documents. This can be hard when trust has been lost and emotions are raw and this is where we can help to secure financial information on your behalf. If you suspect money may have been hidden we can undertake a thorough investigation of your financial position to make sure that everything possible is known. Tempting as it might be to go through your spouse’s personal files, it is unlawful to access someone’s private information without their consent, even if you are their husband or wife.

Is it the right time?

If you have been unhappy for some time and have built up the courage to tell your husband or wife you want to separate you will be keen to resolve the arrangements for the children and money as soon as possible.  However this may be unexpected from your spouse’ point of view and they will need time to come to terms with your decision before they can possibly think about plans for the future.  It is recommended that you take legal advice at an early stage but, unless there is something urgent which needs to be resolved, we would normally recommend waiting a little while before trying to negotiate arrangements.

Andrew Meehan and Carol Jessop are the only family lawyers based in Harrogate accredited by Resolution for dealing with complex financial arrangements following divorce.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.