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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 23780
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I have seperated for nearly 10 weeks from my partner of 13

Customer Question

Hi. I have seperated for nearly 10 weeks from my partner of 13 years. I have left the family house (rental) and am still paying all the bills etc as she is out of work. We have 2 children aged 7 and 9, but I have only been allowed to see them twice since the separation, for a few hours each time. My ex is insisting that the arrangements for them need to be done through mediation & Court so that she has no more contact with me (the only reason she wants no more contact she says, is because it is too painful, and she is unable to move on whilst in contact with me). She says now that I won't see our children again until it is legally arranged. As I am still paying the house and all the bills, I cant afford a new place for my self, and so was going to rent a room. But I am worried that this will impact what/how much access or custody I am awarded by a Judge. I am also worried that my Cafcass report would be worse as I don't have somewhere for my children to stay etc. Please can you advise me in relation to this ?
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: No steps at all, as I wanted to try and be amicable and arrange things between us.
JA: Family Court normally sits in a local County and Magistrates' Court. Do you know the location of the court? If not, what county do you live in?
Customer: We are based in Windsor, Berkshire. So Slough would most likely be the closest I'd guess.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I don't think so, I don't really know tbh. Unless you need any information regarding us and why we seperated etc ?
Submitted: 22 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 22 days ago.

Hello. Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to assist you with this today.

Please bear with me as I will be online and off-line from time to time and therefore, may be delayed getting back to you. You will receive an email when I reply.

Is your name on tenancy?

and she has no income whatsoever? benefits?

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
No my name is ***** ***** the tenancy. And she has just started to receive some benefits this week, and is in training to start a new job soon.
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Hello ?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 22 days ago.

A person is not responsible for the mortgage or rent or the bills of a house that they do not live in although they remain liable to the lender or landlord  if the other person stays in the property and doesn’t pay the mortgage or rent.

In that case, the non-occupier would be entitled to recover any mortgage or rental payments made by the non-occupier, from the occupier within the finances of the breakup of the relationship/marriage.

You would however be liable to pay child maintenance at the CMS rates which are here

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/672432/how-we-work-out-child-maintenance.pdf

Do read the whole document but the basic rates start at the top of page 18.

Child maintenance is reduced by 1/7th for each 52 nights that the non-resident parent has the children.

Child contact arrangements don’t have to be done formally.  You could do what you like between you but if she will not agree, then you need a Child Arrangement Order.

Fortunately, there is a lot of information on the Internet about Child Arrangement orders and the government have actually produced a guide on the subject which is here.

https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce

The different types of Child Arrangement order are:

1              A Contact Order which specifies when parent sees a child,

2              A Residence Order to determine who the child lives with,

3              A Prohibited Steps Order to prevent a parent doing something with the child such as moving away either in this country miles away or taking the child to another country.  Particularly relevant if there is a chance that the parent would go to another country and never return.  The parent wishing to prevent the move would have to convince the court why it’s not in the best interest of the child to move.  Friends, support, school et cetera et cetera all taken into account.

A Prohibited Steps Order is to prevent child Abduction and it’s one of the few areas of law for which legal aid is sometimes still available.  It’s often therefore worth seeing a solicitor.

4              A Specific Issue Order to allow a parent to do something specific with the child such as moving away to another part of the country or indeed to another country.  .  The parent wishing to move would have to prove why it’s not in the best interest of the child to move..  Friends, support, school et cetera et cetera all taken into account.  It would also encompass things such as changing school if the parents cannot agree, changing the child's name, and anything other specific.

The courts will not get involved in a Contact or Residence order unless the couple have been to mediation first.  So the couple would have to try mediation even if it subsequently fails and the matter proceeds to court.

The suitability of your accommodation would certainly be taken into account particularly with regard to overnight staying contact but you probably have more money than you thought you would have done because as I said earlier, whilst you are liable to pay child maintenance, you are not responsible for the mortgage rent or bills.

Thank you for letting me assist you with your legal question.  I am glad that I was able to help.

I am not certain whether that answers the question for you or not, but I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

It will be my pleasure to help you again either further with this or any future questions you have

Kind regards

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Hi again and thankyou for the information.Just to clarify, I will be getting a place of my own for myself and my children when they stay. However I cant do that until the court has established the rulings. In the meantime! I cant stop paying the bills etc as I am in essence paying for my children to live in their house. I wouldn't stop doing that until it is all sorted out.So will the court understand this, and take into account that I will be getting different accomodation as soon as the ruling is made, or will they base the overnight accomodation ruling on my circumstances at the time the ruling is made ? In other words do I need to have suitable accomodation in place for my children to stay in, before the court case starts, or is ruled on ?Many thanks.
Geoff
Expert:  Stuart J replied 22 days ago.

I appreciate that you are paying for the children to live in their house and your moral obligation legal obligation may be different.

It would certainly show to the court that you are more than reasonable.

It would take into account the fact that you are living in lesser quality accommodation yourself purely to make sure that your children have better quality accommodation.  It’s not self-inflicted or rather it’s only self-inflicted voluntarily so you get your children a better quality of life

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Sorry, but does that mean that they would still consider partial custody at the least, on the basis, for example, that I was moving into a 2 to 3 bedroom property as soon as the trial had concluded ?Many thanks.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 22 days ago.

It would depend whether the property that you have is acceptable or not.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Well it would only be a room for me at that time. As I would still be paying for the house that the children and their mother would be living in. But as soon as the court had ruled and finances were legally set, I would be getting my own property big enough for me and my children to live in.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 22 days ago.

Understood.  You have to take it a bit at a time. the situation may be unsatisfactory in the short term but will resolve it when the finances are resolved.