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Updated 24th June 2022

Rita Gupta, LGFL Director says:

"Since our last update to this article, COVID restrictions have been lifted in the UK. However, this isn’t true of every country you and your children might wish to travel to. The entry requirements for countries continue to change, as do infection rates and variants in different regions and countries.

As separated parents, you may have very different views on travel and the associated health risks. As co-parents, you need to consider that, and make sensible decisions.”

 

COVID-19 and foreign holidays: keep up to date

Precautions against the spread of COVID-19 continues to affect anyone planning to travel abroad either to visit relatives or to go on holiday. The UK may have lifted restrictions, but other popular holiday destinations have not.

Australia, for example, only lifted the requirements for a pre-departure COVID-19 test on 8 April 2022. Spain still requires travellers to be “fully vaccinated”, or provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to departure.

Check the latest information on the gov.uk website.

 

Changes in permission

If you plan to take your children abroad, and have shared parental responsibility with your ex-partner, you must seek their permission to take your children out of the country, even for just a short break. Taking children abroad without permission is child abduction in the eyes of the law.

If you have a Child Arrangement Order stating the children live with you, you are able to remove them from the country without permission for less than one month. After that time, you will need permission.

In shared care cases, there has to be full agreement between you. So, in the interests of co-parenting, we would always suggest you have detailed discussions. This is particularly important as, at time of writing, there are major disruptions to travel with major delays, cancelled flights and planned strike action by transport workers.

Your permission/consent should be set down in writing, as proof that everyone understands precisely what has and has not been agreed to. This should include:

  • Details of the holiday destination including street address
  • Contact details for all accommodation/s
  • A full itinerary of travel arrangements including flight numbers and times, departure and arrival airports, train times, etc.
  • Details of any planned holiday events that might require co-parental permission, such as scuba diving.

 

Changes to travel plans

If your ex has already given permission in writing for a holiday abroad, and your travel plans change in terms of dates, destination or duration, you’ll need to get their permission for the new changes.

So, at this time, it might prudent to include some “wriggle room” in the written permission allowing for changes in departure and return dates due to cancellations. You might also wish to include permission for any rebooked holiday during the summer period.

If you are going to spend the holidays in the UK, not abroad, you’ll need to inform your ex about these changes too. However, you don't need permission from your ex-partner to take your children on holiday in the UK.

We would also say in the interests of co-parenting at this time, parents should prioritise their children’s welfare by open discussions wherever possible, and respect people’s wishes about travel guidance.

Try not to become embroiled in tit for tat responses. Look at the bigger picture of allowing a child to enjoy a holiday abroad with the reassurance that the other parent is happy for them to be enjoying a holiday away. It also demonstrates that you both are taking a child centred approach.

Timescales for holidays: COVID testing

As mentioned before, as the holidaying parent, you may need to provide proof of full vaccination for yourself, and potentially for all your children.

If your destination requires a negative test result from a COVID-19 PCR (swab) test, or an antibody test, this should be included into the arrangement letter. It is important to budget for these, as private PCR tests currently cost a minimum of £100 each, and you may have to travel further to your nearest location to take the test. You usually need to provide negative test results for all those travelling, including children.

Testing will add time and cost to the holiday, potentially involving a much longer timeframe than your current child arrangements may cover. So, it would be wise, as co-parents, to add this in a new or existing child arrangement letter in general terms.

 

Holiday timescales: passports

Currently, if you are travelling on holiday to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, your child will need 6 months left on their passport from the day of travel. Requirements for other countries vary.

There is also an issue with expiry dates that has caught out families, in that many countries consider the expiry date of a passport to be 10 years from the date of issue. This can be different from the expiry date on the passport if you applied or a renewal with time left on the passport. In the UK, this might have been added to your passport expiry date, effectively making the passport appear valid for longer than 10 years.

In addition, at the time of writing, some parents are experiencing significant delays in child passport applications, whether a first passport or renewing an old one. According to a local Facebook parent group we follow, some child passports are coming back within the usual 2-3 weeks, but others have been stuck in the system for over three months.

According to the latest advice from HM Passport Office:

"Since April 2021 HMPO have been advising people to allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their British passport. This remains the case.

The vast majority of all passport applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks. However, a passport can only be issued once all the checks have been completed satisfactorily and will take longer if applications are submitted with missing or incomplete information.”

So it is important to check long before your planned travel dates that all your passports will be valid for the required amount of time. For more details click here.

 

Need to make changes to an existing agreement?

If you have a child arrangement letter already in place, call us to discuss amending it. If you haven’t made child arrangements yet, contact us - there is still time.

 

Five benefits of a formal child arrangement agreement

1. A child arrangement letter cuts down the conversations required between you and your ex.

2. It avoids lengthy email exchanges or telephone calls where it’s all too easy to misunderstand what has been arranged and for when.

3. It is impartial and comes via a third party (us).

4. All your ex needs to do is reply in writing agreeing to the arrangements, and you’re ready to go.

5. Child arrangement agreements can be shown to border staff if required. (More on this below).

 

Travelling abroad? Take your letter with you

If you are travelling with children that do not share your surname, a child arrangement agreement is very useful to have if border staff wish to clarify their relationship to you. As the UK has officially left the EU, passport control procedures now vary across the EU and you may find yourself under closer scrutiny (and in a longer queue) than before.

Also remember that you will now need health insurance for yourself and the children, as your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) expired on 31 December 2020 when the UK exited the EU.

 

Court Orders for visits abroad

Your ex may decide not to give permission for you to take children abroad, just as you can refuse permission for them to do the same. In such a case, either parent can apply for a Specific Issue Order. This is a court order that determines a specific issue concerning Parental Responsibility.

The court will determine if the holiday or journey abroad is in the child’s best interests. A court is unlikely to rule against a visit to a country that is a member of the Hague Convention. However, it may rule against visits to other countries are not thought to be safe, which might include those with COVID-19 related restrictions.

Equally, you can apply for a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order if there is a risk that your ex-spouse may not return the children back to the UK.

The focus of the court and all professionals involved will always be the welfare of the child/children. The view on precisely what that welfare consists of can be quite different between separated parents, and so a compromise will have to be reached. You may want to consider mediation to resolve the issue between you and reach that required compromise.

 

Child arrangement agreements by phone or Zoom

At LGFL, we aim to make it as easy as possible to access the legal advice and services you need, and so offer our full family law service remotely. The great advantage of remote services is that you don't need to travel to our offices, and virtual mediation means you don't need to meet your ex-partner in person to resolve differences if required.

Do feel free to phone us to discuss your requirements, or book your initial 1-hour fixed fee advice session. (For qualifying clients, T&Cs apply.)

Managing Director Rita Gupta looks at the emotions and logistics involved in successful co-parenting during the festive season, and how planning in advance can help you enjoy the holidays without worry.

2021 hasn’t turned out the way many of us may have hoped, and COVID is still very much with us. For newly-single parents who have divorced or separated during 2021, this first Christmas as a family apart will inevitably be very different from last year’s bubble meet-ups too.

With some requirements reintroduced as we approach Christmas period, there is still a degree of uncertainty as to whether further rules will be imposed before Christmas.

That uncertainty underpins the need to make formal arrangements for children over the holiday period, including which parent they will spend each day of the holiday with. These arrangements should also include a robust Plan B to cover possible scenarios such as:

  • a case of COVID in the immediate family
  • a requirement to self-isolate after contact with a person with the Omicron variant
  • protecting vulnerable family members if required
  • agreements over lateral flow tests for children before changing households

 

Christmas child arrangements and your family

Now is the time for separated parents to plan their Christmas child arrangements for the statutory holiday period, covering both the weekday Bank Holidays in between Christmas and New Year, pus New Year’s Day.

In addition, separated parents should also make arrangements for the rest of the school holidays, and check exactly when they end. In West Berkshire, for example, schools return on Wednesday 5th January, whereas in Hampshire. schools restart on Tuesday 4th January 2022.

 

What separated parents are concerned about at Christmas

The good news is, if you find all this a little daunting, you are not alone. Most newly-single parents share three main concerns:

As a separated parent, it’s important to take time to consider what you feel about all these three points and which are your priorities.

In addition, give the possibility of increased viral transmission in enclosed spaces, you may want to think about:

  • Number of people/households in your home at one time
  • Priorities in terms of who you want to visit and when
  • Availability of local testing, just in case
  • Possibility that one parent, grandparent or one child may need to self-isolate

The key is to lay out your plans now that cover most eventualities, so you can be flexible if required.

Who gets the kids? Christmas Day arrangements

Most resident parents want their children to spend Christmas Day at their home - and the absent parent wants exactly the same thing too. As a newly-separated parent, you may be deciding between two options:

  • Alternating who has the children on the day itself, one year with their resident parent, the next year with their absent parent
  • Sharing the day, each having the children for half the day

Whilst for some, sharing the day works out just fine, for other recently separated couple the ‘this year, next year’ option is the better of the two. Many single parents simply do not want to see their ex-partner on Christmas Day itself, as it can raise so many unwanted emotions.

 

Can I afford Christmas?

Or more often, can I afford to spend as much as my ex probably will? This is an issues that many separated parents worry about, especially if they don’t earn as much as their ex-partner. The current economic climate may also have adversely affected one parent more than the other. Purchasing a joint present given from both of you is both budget-friendly and a positive display of co-parenting that sets the trend moving forward. A modest budget for stocking gifts and treats can also prevent costs spiraling out of control, or devaluing the joint gift.

 

I want to see them open their presents

If there is one silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that we are all so much more comfortable with video calls. So, make the most of this, and share in those magical paper-ripping moments via a pre-arranged video call. Make sure this includes all the family including grandparents and extended family. With video calls, there are no worries over the number of people physically allowed in one home, and you can open your presents from the kids on the same call too.

 

How to make your Christmas child arrangements

Making and agreeing Christmas child arrangements doesn’t need to involve endless phone calls, text messages, and email ping pong. This communication overload can be emotionally draining and with so many different messaging formats, lead to potential misunderstanding.

Much simpler to create a Christmas child arrangement letter, which sets down in writing what the arrangements are. Created with the help of a family lawyer such as ourselves, this letter simply pins down the details so you both know what’s happening when and where. Both of you can then agree to it, saving time and stress.

 

Make time for yourself

Remember, your first separated Christmas is not all about the children. This year, make space in your diary to enjoy the things you love about the season. Meet up with friends either virtually or in person as allowed, take a couple of days away, or just relax at home in peace and quiet. Start new traditions for yourself and your children for future Christmases when COVID-19 will have become a distant memory.

Contact LGFL to create and finalise your Christmas child arrangement letter:

If you missed what we’ve been sharing last month, here’s a round up of our blogs and some of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From our blog:

Reaching out: LGFL in the media

LGFL in the media Feb 2021

 

How LGFL are reaching new audiences through digital media channels, including digital magazine, blogs and a brand new radio station.

 

Financial Remedies Court now “an established and permanent part of the Family Court”

family court finance

 

As the Financial Remedies Courts become part of the system, we look at what they are, why they are important, and how taking proper legal advice early is still crucial for financial settlements for divorce or separation.

 

 

 

Why being a “keyboard warrior” could affect your family law case

keyboard typring for keyboard warrior

 

Communicating with your ex-partner during your separation can be stressful, but as our latest article shows, hitting Reply can help save emotional email exchanges ending up before a judge in court.

 

 

 

 

From our social media:

Still staying home

Work from home guidance to remain in place until 21 June at the earliest.

 

Entire school board resigns after accidental public livestream

Another reminder about being careful with remote communications.

 

No pay rises for judges this year

"Buckland told the review body that he will not be issuing a remit letter for an annual review of judicial pay for the 2021/22 year as the government will not be able to implement the recommendations."

 

Have you seen this new app from amicable?

It's to help you manage all aspects of co-parenting in one secure place, making parenting after divorce and separation simpler.

 

Railways and Women’s Aid help hundreds of abuse victims escape

Some help from the railways for victims of abuse. Since April last year 747 adults and 273 children — have used the Rail to Refuge scheme.

 

 

 

Calls for widespread coronavirus testing as more Nightingale courts announced

“If action is not taken to increase capacity further, case delays will continue to increase and more victims, witnesses, and defendants will be denied access to justice.” Law Society President David Greene talks to the Daily Mail about the courts backlog

 

BBC announces The Split season 3 will be the final series

For those addicted to this series - it's coming to an end!

 

Why Adele won’t sing about her divorce

Adele won't sing to tell all.

 

Top judge rocks incredible judicial face mask

Now that's a face mask to match your outifit!

 

The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. It’s time to bring it out of the shadows

"The issue remains deeply misunderstood, shrouded in shame and judgment of the victims, enabled by excuse-making for the perpetrators"

 

A survival guide to pensions on divorce

A great resource for divorcing couples.

 

Divorced woman runs giveaway competition about her wedding rings

One way to deal with your wedding rings after a divorce.

 

 

If you missed what we’ve been sharing last month, here’s a round up of our blogs and some of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From our blog:

Legal support at your side: why hybrid mediation is better than standard mediation

two doors open for hybrid mediation consultation

 

Hybrid mediation can help you avoid lengthy court delays and costs in your divorce, separation or family issues. With your family lawyer by your side in a separate room, and a mediator relaying information, you have access to legal advice right when you need it most.

 

Home alone: the impact of working from home, tech poverty and home schooling on single parents

mother an children home schooling

 

Single or separated, and juggling the needs of home schooling the kids and working from home? Our latest article is packed with tips on how to achieve a balance through co-parenting with your ex, and links to sources of help.

 

 

 

Lockdown 2021: how it affects child arrangements, divorce, separation and more

lockdown 2021

 

Worries about how lockdown affects your child arrangements after divorce or separation? Our article updates you on the latest rules on child arrangement orders, co-parenting, selling the family home, schooling and more.

 

 

Self-representation: the mental health impact of acting for yourself in court proceedings

 

Tempted to represent yourself in court on a family matter or for your divorce? Read this first!

Managing Director Rita Gupta examines why the DIY option for your day in court could cost you dearly both financially and in terms of your mental health.

 

 

 

From our social media:

Are you free 3rd Feb at 6pm?

There's a Zoom interview with Baroness Hale, that explores the highlights of her career to date and her thoughts on the future.

 

Financial remedy in divorce cases just got easier

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many providers and advisers moved quickly to implement digital signatures and get the administration side of the advice process online.

 

Brexit changes for family law

If you have a child maintenance decision, which you want to have recognised and enforced in an EU country from 1 January 2021, contact your nearest Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre as soon as possible.

More details about the changes can be found here.

 

Most women who commit family violence turn to verbal abuse, report finds

Interesting article on an Australian study, has found women’s violence is underpinned by different motivations and dynamics to those of violent men. And therefore leading to the need for different 'behavioural change programs'.

 

Mary-Kate Olsen and ex-husband Olivier Sarkozy finalising divorce

The changes that have happened over the last year. Finalising via 'Zoom'.

 

 

 

For separated parents home schooling under lockdown 3.0. can be even tougher

There is great advice in this realistic article on how to approach home schooling and “ideas to help children learn that you can fit around the edges of working from home.”

 

Jane Seymour reflects on the lessons she learned from her 4 'painful' divorces

On what the "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" star learned most from going through divorce so many times "is to let go. To try to find a way to communicate and keep what was good in the relationship."

 

Urgent call for new law to tackle non-fatal strangulation in England and Wales

Victims’ commissioner says current legislation minimises seriousness of ‘domestic terror tactic’.

 

Coronavirus: Separated Families and Contact with Children in Care FAQs

Concerned about children moving between the homes of separated parents in the latest national lockdown? The House of Commons published a paper which gives answers.

 

Tough new domestic abuse tsar prepares to shape laws to protect threatened women

“My view of the role is to advise government but never step back from applying pressure. My job is to bring things to light.”

Let's hope she does make good changes for domestic abuse victims both women and men.

 

York mum shares 5 tips from new book on surviving divorce

In her new book called Big Girl Pants, the author shares her personal diaries throughout her divorce journey and her advice on how to have an amicable split.

 

Solicitors recognised in New Year Honours

Solicitors do outstanding work too and it's good to be recognised.

 

How an acrimonious divorce can take a financial toll

Difficult and malicious behaviour exhibited by one party during financial remedy proceedings can be punished with adverse costs orders, an adjustment of the asset division, or both.

 

mother an children home schooling

If you are a single parent with children, you will know the challenges of lockdown 3.0 all too well. The endless juggling of working from home with video calls, child care when you need to be in the office, home schooling for children of different ages, food to be shopped for (without the kids), the list goes on. All at a time when you may be mourning the loss of your relationship and a significant change in circumstances.

For many single parents, lockdown is having a significant economic and social effect even if you are employed and working from home. You may be cash rich in terms of income / salary, but time poor in terms of enough hours in the day to do everything. You have limited options for others to take on childcare, and grandparents can’t do what they used to either. In short, you need help.

 

Compassionate co-parenting

This is where effective and compassionate co-parenting can click in. As separated parents, in most cases you have shared parental responsibility that covers issues such as education. You may not live together anymore, but you still need to maintain contact with your ex for the children. Many separated couples with children have child arrangement orders in place that specify who sees the children and when.

As LGFL Managing Director Rita Gupta says:

“At this stage, it is important for both parents to take responsibility for the children, their care and their schooling during the pandemic and a national lockdown. Everyone is impacted by the current situation in different ways, and it is unfair for one parent to feel more pressure than the others.

We also need to be mindful of creating ‘good cop, bad cop’ parenting. This is where one parent is responsible for the homework and basic care, and the other parent leads all the fun activities. Sharing home schooling and activities can help prevent that, and build strong bonds with your child. Also the children will benefit from the different skills and knowledge of their parents.

Finally it sends the children an all-important message that both parents are in agreement when it comes to their education.”

 

Freedom of movement

A recent statement from the Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division said that there can be flexibility in child arrangements, given the current circumstances.

“The expectation must be that parents will care for children by acting sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their child and deciding where and with whom their child spends time.”

Under the lockdown 3.0 rules, children of separated parents are allowed to move freely between homes as required. This allows you as co-parents to put aside your differences over the next six weeks and work together for the benefit and wellbeing of your children on two key areas of concern.

Home schooling

Converting your home into a full-time school is no simple task. It also requires a shift in mindset. There is great advice in this realistic article on how to approach home schooling and “ideas to help children learn that you can fit around the edges of working from home.”
Home schooling tips

You need space for your children to sit down and work, and access their online classroom portals and lessons via the internet. To achieve this, you need a reliable connection and sufficient bandwidth and data allowance to cope with live video lessons.

This is where so many families are struggling at present. Where you live will inevitably dictate the maximum broadband speed you can achieve. So, if the non-resident parent has the faster connection, or needs less of their bandwidth for work, it may make sense for the children to work from that home. This is a good explanation of broadband, data and bandwidth:
Broadband and bandwidth

For single parents with no fixed broadband and who rely on mobile data, your provider can temporarily increase your mobile data allowance so children can watch lessons online via a mobile device.
Get help with tech

The BBC has scheduled new online lessons on TV channels that do not require an internet connect. Morning lessons for primary school age children are on CBBC, lessons for secondary children are on BBC 2, and BBC Bitesize is available on iPlayer.
BBC education
There are lots more online resources listed on this article too:
BBC technology news

The BBC Teach channel on YouTube features lots of lessons if you want to top up teaching from your school. For example, The Maths Show is designed for GCSE level pupils:
Maths Show

Your children need devices to work on such as laptops or tablets. If you do not have access to these, your school should be able to provide one under a Dept. of Education scheme.
Get laptops scheme

Again, this is a time to share as a co-parent if you have a device that you don’t use much, and the kids have nothing suitable. Various charities may also able to help, such as your local Lions. (If you are lucky enough to have spare devices, please consider donating them.)
Lions computer help

Need inspiration for educational activities that don’t rely on the internet? Families magazine has done a lot of the work for you in their latest edition:
Families magazine

By sharing home schooling responsibilities, your children will also benefit from two sets of knowledge and life skills as part of home schooling by both parents. In turn, each of you can have free time to concentrate on your own life and work.

 

Challenges of communication

As family lawyers, we understand the difficulties of cooperating with you ex when relations are not normally amicable. We can write a child arrangement letter that covers the extraordinary requirements of lockdown, laying out who does what, and when. It can also set out any details you’d like included regarding tech, such as a loan of a laptop until children go back to school. Call us for details and to book your initial 1-hour consultation with 30 minutes included.
 

Working from home (WFH)

As a starting point, it’s important to acknowledge that neither partner’s work is “more important” than the others. If you both work, and can work from home, then sharing parental responsibility can give you extra space and time you need to work.

If you are expected or required to work from home, your employer should provide the technology you require.

“Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.”

Employers might be willing to help boost your level of connectivity and data so home schooling is possible, as this will benefit your productivity and availability overall.
ACAS working from home

For many WFH parents with access, the biggest issue is sharing the bandwidth with children home schooling. According to a report, the average 30-minute live video lesson chews through 250Mb of data. The same will apply for your own Zoom calls for work too. For parents on a monthly data limit, the entire allowance could be gone in a few days.

Again, it’s worth contacting your service provider and asking for a temporary increase in your data allowance to cover home schooling and working, or looking for a better deal. Do bear in mind, however, that with so many children studying online, broadband speeds may be slower than expected/advertised.
Unlimited data

Space is also important, as is privacy. Amusing though it may be to have the kids crashing in on a business call dressed only in a superhero cape and a smile, it may not prove popular with colleagues and employers. Co-parenting can allow you both to schedule video meetings when Superman and his crew are being home schooled, taking exercise, or making lunch with their other parent. See the article below for hints on how to work better from home and give yourself more time.
Work from home tips

 

Communications, mediation and collaborative law

As family lawyers, we are able to assist with child arrangement letters and if required, mediated online meetings to sort out issues without the need to go to court. Call us to book your initial 1-hour online consultation with 30 minutes included free, to discuss your situation and practical solutions.

lockdown 2021

As a recently separated or divorced parent, you may be worried about how lockdown might affect existing child arrangements and/or access to your children in the coming weeks.

The good news is that important lessons have been learnt from the previous two lockdown, and the latest rules are more in tune and sympathetic towards modern family life than before.

With this in mind, we have written this article to address some of the most commonly faced issues for family clients.

 

Child Care Arrangements

Children can move freely between homes of their divorced and separated parents. If your child arrangements include children living at your home and at your ex partner’s home too, the children can move freely between both homes. You do not need to form a support bubble with your ex.

 

Compliance with a Child Arrangements Order (CAO)

The lockdown rules allow parents to continue with co-parenting arrangements within the scope of the guidelines. As The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice said:

“The expectation must be that parents will care for children by acting sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their child and deciding where and with whom their child spends time.”

In essence, this means that your child arrangements can be varied due to Coronavirus restrictions, but any variation must be in the spirit of the order. The aim should always be to make “safe alternative arrangements for the child”. Do bear in mind that just because you can vary child arrangements, it doesn’t mean you should. As parents, you can both be called up by the court to explain your decisions. Remember, the welfare of the child is always paramount.

The current situation will inevitably involve you communicating with your ex, for example to establish the health of each household, results of any COVID tests or self-isolation requirements, and minimise the risk of infection. If such communication is problematic for you, call us. We can advise on key areas of disagreement, and if necessary, send correspondence to try and settle the issue. Call us to discuss your situation in your online 1-hour initial consultation with 30 minutes included free (terms and conditions apply).

Forming a support bubble

Becoming a single parent for the first time during a lockdown is especially hard. If you are separated, divorced, or just currently single, you can form a support bubble with one other local household, if:

  • you have a child aged one or under

OR

  • you are a single parent with children aged under 18

OR

  • you live by yourself

You can stay overnight with your support bubble household.

 

Childcare bubbles

Childcare bubbles are different from support bubbles. If you have children under the age of 14, you can form a childcare bubble to either provide or receive childcare from one other household. However, this is NOT a social bubble, and you “must” avoid seeing childcare and support bubbles together. Nannies are able to continue working in your home. If eligible, you can access registered childcare and activities if your child is Reception age or younger, or is vulnerable, or you are a critical worker.

 

Schooling

All schools in England are currently closed, except for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. Students will be taught remotely until February half term. (We’ll be writing a blog on the challenges of home schooling with limited access to tech and broadband, with a list of resources for help.) Nurseries and childcare are open for pre-school/early years children

 

Domestic abuse protection

The guidance is very clear: “You may leave home, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse).”

If you are experiencing domestic violence, the time to act is NOW.

Remember, domestic abuse includes coercive abuse and control. You can approach your child’s school under the ‘vulnerable’ category to ensure your child can attend in person, to ensure they are not exposed to the abuse.

Court proceedings

Courts in England and Wales are operating a dual system, with some cases being heard remotely via video links, and some being heard in person in a courtroom, albeit quite rare at the moment. At LGFL, we have the experience and technology to deal with all remote hearings. You are permitted to travel to a court hearing in person, and adult citizens will continue to be called up for jury service.

 

Working from home

The government rules state that: “Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.” It is worth talking to your employer to discuss providing robust tech that is also available for home schooling, in that you cannot work if the kids are using the bandwidth for online classes. You might need to talk to your employer about flexible working hours too if you are also dealing with childcare / home schooling, or an ongoing divorce or family law case.

If you are newly single, this may be a challenging task. Speaking to your ex partner about sharing this responsibility may help, especially over the next few weeks.

 

Selling your home

If you are selling your home as part of or as the result of a divorce, you can still sell and move during this lockdown. Estate agents, letting agents and removal firms are open for business, and you can view properties in person, subject to the usual social distancing rules.  Be prepared that a house move could take longer due to changes in working methods for those involved, such as surveyors and new homes sales teams. Also be aware that the current guidance on home movingstates: “It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus.” 

If you are getting divorced or are separating, the sale of your former matrimonial home can be one of your biggest worries. Remember also that there are stamp duty incentives currently in place. Up until 31st March 2021, you won't pay any stamp duty when selling your main residence for up to £500,000. Above £500,000 stamp duty is due at varying rates - there’s a handy stamp duty calculator at Money Saving Expert.

This reduced rate could be a strong incentive to stop matters drifting and move on with a sale. Equally, the end of the special rate in April could persuade anxious buyers of your home to complete before that date, despite the uncertainty ahead.

If you are looking to purchase a home, keep an eye on this date too. It offers significant savings and is particularly important where matrimonial finances are limited. At the time of writing in early January 2021, the Chancellor was giving no indications that the special stamp duty rate would be extended.

 

Legal services from LGFL

During the first lockdown, we moved all our family law services online within a couple of days, enabling us to work remotely and safely with all our clients. So, we are here to help you with any family law issue you may have, without the need to visit us in person.

Call us to arrange your initial 1-hour online consultation, which includes 30 minutes free, giving plenty of time to explore your situation and your options.

- Call us

- Email us

- Request your appointment online

If you missed what we’ve been sharing last month, here’s a round up of our blogs and some of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From our blog:

Divorce in 2020: child arrangements for celebrities

 

How do Hollywood A-listers co-parent after divorce? Managing Director Rita Gupta uncovers some positive ways A-listers make their child arrangements after separating.

 

Pre-nups: who needs one and why

 

Pre-nups for all: why every couple getting married should make a pre-nup, and why they are not just for Hollywood A-listers!

 

 

 

Domestic abuse against men: the 2020 ManKind Conference

male domestic abuse caller

 

The latest research into domestic violence against men as revealed at the ManKind Initiative Conference in November.

 

 

 

How to make Christmas 2020 child arrangements following your separation

 

Are you a recently-separated parent and need to plan that crucial five day festive period under the new COVID Christmas rules? A child arrangements letter can help both of you decide on who gets the kids, when. Our latest article from Director Rita Gupta explains more.

 

 

 

From our social media:

The oligarch's divorce saga rumbles on

Tatiana Akhmedova’s son accused of foul play in £453m divorce.

 

Millions of parents say they’d cancel Christmas if they could

A sad statistic to read, as we move into December.

Our latest article on our website gives some ideas on how separated parents can organise Christmas, rather than perhaps cancel it.

 

So, what is Good Divorce Week?

Resolution’s annual campaign which aims to promote the constructive ways their members can help separating couples. This year the emphasis is on the Resolution "Code of Practice".

 

Splitting up by also splitting the costs

More and more couples are keen to share the cost of separation by instructing one solicitor.

 

From our social media:

Brad Keeps His Judge

And still it rumbles on for Brangelina.

 

Supreme Court launches career journey podcast to encourage top court hopefuls

For those considering applying, you can listen to the other Justices speaking about their career path and why they applied to become a Justice, as well as sharing insights into what the application process felt like and what advice they would give someone considering applying.

 

McFarlane alarmed by weekend demand for skeleton arguments

"It is plain that the system is at present running low in terms of the personal reserves of the human beings who work within it. "

 

Is it possible to divorce 'well' during a lockdown?

"Having the right team behind you is invaluable for a lockdown divorce, when you’ll need more support than ever."

We couldn't have said it better

 

UK’s top court could soon have just one woman judge

Something to think on for retaining diversity.
"The UK Supreme Court could be left with just one woman judge in a few months’ time, risking a reversal of progress on diversity on the bench, campaigners have warned."

 

A shock is in store for international divorcing couples

As per this FT Adviser article: A shock is in store for international divorcing couples. Brexit may pose some difficulties for parties in international divorce.

 

If you missed what we’ve been sharing last month, here’s a round up of our blogs and some of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From our blog:

Whose pension is it anyway? Your pensions and divorce questions answered

piggy bank and pension words

 

Worried about the impact of divorce or separation on your hard-earned pension? I answer some of the big questions clients ask me, in this Pensions 101 article.

 

Charity September: a month for giving

 

September was charities month at LGFL: see our article for what we're up to and which local and national charities will benefit.

 

 

 

LGFL Wills, marriage and divorce; don’t get caught out

 

A will is a 'living document' - when did you last feed it some new information, or update it? Divorce, remarriage, new grandchildren - they all require a new or updated will to reflect your wishes and help your executors carry them out.

 

 

From our social media:

I discovered my wife plans on divorce – and accuses me of abuse

Lockdown has had a great affect on many relationships. Finding the best way forward for both parties is crucial. A mediator can really help.

 

Perspex and Portakabin: HMCTS announces ‘ambitious’ safety drive

Plastic screens are to be installed in 250 courts and retiring rooms by the end of October, while Portakabin buildings are to be set up for deliberating juries, according to a government announcement.

 

Outdated weddings laws of England and Wales face overhaul

Great to see these changes being considered.

With more choices for locations for weddings will make things easier for couples.

Don't forget the pre-nup!

 

Coronavirus: What do Covid rules mean for half-term holidays?

Divorced or separated, & you want to take your kids abroad for half term, you’ll need permission from everyone with parental responsibilities. For a UK staycation in an area with local restrictions, check the rules on where & with whom you can stay.

 

1 in 4 behaviour divorces caused by alcohol abuse during lockdown

Another outcome of lockdown

 

Meghan Markle was ‘empowered by divorce’ after she made abrupt break-up decision

Can divorce be empowering? A friend at the time of Megan’s divorce in 2013, actress Abby Wathen has been quoted as saying:

“She was empowered. She took her power back. It wasn’t the right relationship for her, so she moved on.”

If you feel it’s time to move on, call us for an initial consultation to discuss your situation in complete confidence.

 

'Divorce boom' forecast as lockdown sees advice queries rise

Cause and effect in action.

 

Jamie Redknapp gives rare insight into co-parenting

Talking on a new podcast, Jamie Redknapp has given a rare insight into co-parenting sons

 

Coercive control: 'I was 16 and thought it was normal'

Really helpful article to understand coercive control.

Even though the article focuses on a young girl this can be relevant to any gender, age or class.

AND FINALLY

LGFL in the media

What do national lifestyle magazine Red, the Law Society, Berkshire Living and Stay Connected have in common? Rita Gupta has featured in all of them within a month! Discover more of our media features in our latest article at our own website.

 

If you missed what we’ve been sharing last month, here’s a round up of our blogs and some of the news posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

From our blog:

Reduced rate of stamp duty and divorce: use it or lose it

model house with stamp duty tag

 

The reduced rate of stamp duty has some unexpected benefits for anyone looking to separate or divorce, and needing to sell the family home.

 

Divorce and Children with Special Needs: Child Arrangement Orders

special needs child and divorce

 

For parents of SEN children, divorce and separation come with an extra layer of challenges. In the first of two articles, our Managing Director Rita Gupta looks at how a pragmatic approach to child arrangements can create a child-focused outcome that prioritises the child’s emotional and financial stability.

 

 

 

What’s changed at LGFL - and what’s not changed! The personal touch a boutique firm offers

 

As a result of returning to our offices in Swallowfield and Reading, we've had a good think about our firm’s structure and the way we do business. We've had a reallocation of roles, to better deliver the high level of personal service our boutique family law firm is known for.

 

 

 

Rise of the Tinder babies: parental responsibility and paternity

heart on dating agency website

 

Dating sites have made finding love simple, but the legal ramifications of a resulting pregnancy and child can be anything but simple. Director Rita Gupta explores the rise of the Tinder babies.

 

 

From our social media:

'Not just about the professionals': Buckland defends extended court hours

We are not expecting anyone to work extremely long, whole days in court. It’s court buildings hours that we want to extend.

 

30 Signs someone has suffered financial abuse

Arguing about money is the most likely reason for a couple to divorce, which just shows how huge of an issue it can be. However, not all arguments are equal, and it may be that one partner is the abuser, and the other is the abused.

This article lists some of the warning signs

 

Depp libel trial reveals problems of proof in domestic violence cases

As this Guardian article states: "If four weeks of courtroom investigations – aided by first-class lawyers examining CCTV recordings, text messages, photos and numerous witnesses – still struggle to establish the precise truth of what happened, then how hard must it be for family courts processing thousands of domestic violence allegations every year?"

 

Women urged to claim 'millions' in underpaid pensions

"The women are being urged to check their state pension as under the old system married women could claim a basic state pension at 60 per cent of the full rate based on their husband's contributions, where this would be bigger than the pension they would get based on their own contributions."

This applies to divorced women too, particularly those who divorced post-retirement, to check that they are benefiting from the contributions of their ex husband.

 

BBC Panorama

Victoria Derbyshire reports on what lockdown has meant for those living with Domestic Violence.
Thirty-five years on, she returns to look at how those living with domestic violence have been impacted by lockdown.

 

Training needs in a post-lockdown landscape

Interesting post from Resolution - First for Family Law about training and professional development, crucial for all of us.

 

TikTok, Netflix’s ‘365 Days’ and the memeification of violent sex by generation Z

Really worrying what younger people are now exposed to and a good article.

 

Government finds £3.1m to support litigants in person

Not-for-profit organisations will be given funding to provide free legal support to those without legal representation in court.

 

Lawyers' exemption from coronavirus quarantine should be scrapped as it 'risks lives', Law Society warns

“Allowing people to break quarantine to attend court and not having effective systems in place to communicate outbreaks in the court puts lives at risk”. Law Society President Simon Davis talks to the Evening Standard about #quarantine exemptions

 

Kent musician composes charity song 'You're Not Alone' to support male domestic abuse victims through charity ManKind

Great to see the top man @LeverClive being featured in the news about his song "You're Not Alone" raising awareness of male victims of domestic abuse and also funds for our helpline.

 

Life’s too short to end a relationship

"Ending a relationship gets particularly complex when there are other people involved, too, like children, or mutual friends"

 

MoJ headquarters begins new role as Nightingale court

The Ministry of Justice’s London headquarters has begun functioning as a Nightingale court hearing cases that are not usually open to the public.

AND FINALLY

LGFL in the media

What do national lifestyle magazine Red, the Law Society, Berkshire Living and Stay Connected have in common? Rita Gupta has featured in all of them within a month! Discover more of our media features in our latest article at our own website.

 

LGFL - in the news