Coronavirus Lockdown: Help, My Ex Still Has My Child

coronavirus lockdown

With Coronavirus lockdown expected to stay firmly in place across the country for several weeks to come, you may find yourself revisiting a discussion or agreement with regards to split parenting that originally started when locking down officially began in March. 

As before, approach this discussion with your ex-partner in a calm and reasonable manner. Undoubtedly, everyone is feeling a little frustrated or stressed at the moment so take that into consideration and try to reason when it comes to talking about what’s best for your child or children.

Coronavirus Lockdown: What To Do Next

If your ex has maintained most, if not all, of the parenting responsibilities during the first few weeks of lockdown and you would like to re-introduce and more importantly, maintain contact with your child over the coming weeks, you can politely remind them of the official rules. 

In our blog titled ‘Advice On Co-Parenting During Coronavirus’, we have listed these if you need to refer to them. What’s really important here is that co-parenting absolutely can exist during lockdown especially if there is an official court order in place that states that every effort to maintain this agreement should continue. 

However, should your child custody agreement be less formal than this and your ex still has the child or children, there is no reason why you cannot attempt to renegotiate co-parenting with your ex, given the latest government update on continued isolation for weeks to come. It could really help you both to share the responsibility when it comes to homeschooling, keeping children active and making sure they maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Our Advice For During Coronavirus Lockdown 

It goes without saying that parents want the same outcome for their child during this unexpected time, and that, of course, is safety. So in order to try and reach a balanced resolution, act sensibly. 

Here is some advice on how to tackle situations where your ex still has your child:

Share The Responsibility

Suggest to your ex that by sharing the responsibility of parenting, it can help to take some of the pressure off as it’s likely that many are feeling extra anxious at the moment. Even if it’s offering to help with homeschooling or keeping the children entertained, this idea should hopefully be welcomed.

Regular Communication

Keep communicating with your ex as regularly as possible without it becoming heated or tense. More importantly, try and keep it to just between you two. Having others involved whether it’s grandparents, friends or a new partner, this will make this messy and confusing and may also cause defensive behaviour, potentially making the situation worse. 

Keep A Record

If you make any new agreements or changes to an existing agreement, it’s important to have this in writing whether it’s over text message or email. When speaking in casual conversation, perhaps when dropping the children off to each other’s house, it’s easy to agree to things but it is strongly advised that this is followed up in writing, should you need it later down the line. This can be done very subtly and in a friendly way without coming across as controlling or demanding.

Maintain Normality

As long as neither yourself, anyone in your household or your ex and anyone in their household has contracted Coronavirus, usual visiting should still apply. In doing so, maintain the levels of cleanliness as outlined by the Scottish Government.

What Advice Is Out There?

There’s plenty, but during this difficult time parents are encouraged to try and negotiate between themselves as much as possible. 

Refer to official rules and regulations as a way to help steer your conversation but tackle this with a gentle tone so it doesn’t come across as controlling. The Scottish Government have provided straightforward guidelines on child welfare specifically in relation to Coronavirus, answering some key questions that parents may have.

Shared Parenting is a charity in Scotland that also offers neutral advice and they have also updated their website with specific information on co-parenting during the Coronavirus lockdown.

How Can Cath Karlin Family Law Help You?

If after several attempts your circumstances do not improve and further advice is needed, the team at Cath Karlin Family Law can step in to assist. We understand how stressful child custody and co-parenting can be under normal circumstances, let alone co-parenting during Coronavirus. 

However, even more so than ever before, it’s crucial to try and put any differences aside and find a resolution that firmly puts your child’s needs first. We offer mediation and collaborative options to solve any issues and these can be done over video calls, such as Zoom, to keep in accordance with the social distancing and stay at home guidelines. 

Currently, during Coronavirus lockdown, the courts will only deal with urgent matters on a triage basis, so if you need any information or advice on co-parenting during Coronavirus, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Whatever you’re struggling with, Cath Karlin Family Law is here to help you. You can either email me at cath@cathkarlinfamilylaw.co.uk or give us a call if it’s safe to do so on 0131 357 1515.

How To Deal With An Abusive Partner During Coronavirus

abusive partner

There are no doubt many people in a challenging situation during COVID-19 lockdown. If your circumstances involve an abusive partner, the team at Cath Karlin Family Law would like to share some genuine advice and reassurance. We know it’s not easy to handle this situation even outside of lockdown so we want to offer as much support as possible during this difficult time.

It’s quite likely that feelings and emotions will be heightened at the moment, especially with the recent government update on continued lockdown. That being said, it’s not an excuse or a prompt for any form of abuse, whether verbal, physical or psychological, to take place in the home.

What Should I Do If I Have An Abusive Partner?

It is quite common that an abusive partner may try and control you by downplaying the seriousness of what they’re doing to you and as a result, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of danger you’re in. It’s vital to protect yourself from harm if you feel that you’re being abused and please remember your worth and that you never have to do this alone.

The usual immediate advice, whether children are involved or not, would be to get support from friends and family or someone you can trust and stay with them if it’s safe to do so. In some severe cases, you have the option to seek refuge from a shelter or even get in touch with emergency services. Once you (and your children if applicable) are in a safe place, it is then time to seek legal support and advice.

However, due to Coronavirus, the extended lockdown and stay-at-home guidelines, we are, unfortunately, not in normal circumstances and some of the above advice may be difficult to follow if your partner has become or continues to be abusive.

Our Recommendations

In light of this, we have compiled some simple recommendations on where to find advice or people to speak to if you have an abusive partner and we’ve also outlined some healthy habits to try as part of a daily routine that could help with your sensitive lockdown scenario.

This includes ways to have some ‘me-time’ away from an abusive partner. It’s absolutely paramount that your mental wellbeing maintains high levels of positivity and that every bit of inner strength you have is spent on you.

Healthy Habits

Below are some simple steps to try that are designed to help you cope with an abusive partner during the lockdown, where access to support from others is limited and the opportunity to seek legal advice may not be something you can think about at this time.

  1. Keep to a regular routine. This will instill feelings of self-worth and provide you with a framework.
  2. Try to stay connected to the outside world. Even work colleagues if you are homeworking can provide this.
  3. Take time away. Either by being in a different room from your abuser or going outside for your daily exercise. This will give you time away and an ability to look for help online or even call a solicitor or the police.

Who Can I Speak To About My Abusive Partner During Lockdown?

According to Edinburgh News and Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline, there has been a 20% reduction in calls made about abusive partners.

One of the reasons for this is that there may be limited access to a phone and privacy to make a phone call. As partners are with each other day in and day out (unless one partner is still working outside of the home), then any opportunities for the abused partner to pick up the phone are pretty slim so this could explain the significant drop off in calls.

If this is the case, there are a number of entirely confidential online web chats and messaging apps on your phone, which you can use instead and hopefully, you are able to install these. They are much more discreet and allow you to speak freely without having to rush a telephone call.

Have a look at Scottish Women’s Aid who offer 24/7 help and advice with plenty of information on their website explicitly relating to abusive partners during the Coronavirus lockdown.

There is also Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline, offering exactly the same level of service, including email, but also in several different languages which could be really helpful.

How Can Cath Karlin Family Law Help You?

For extra support during this extremely difficult time, the team at Cath Karlin Family Law can also help at a time that for most people is difficult, unfamiliar and challenging.

We can accommodate your needs and preferred form of communication, at a time that suits you best. There is a facility within Scots Law to obtain an exclusion order and interdicts which would prevent your abuser living in the property thus keeping you safe. The courts are very alive to the fact that victims of domestic abuse need protection and would consider such applications as warranting emergency hearings during this time.

We will encourage you to carefully consider the route to be taken for yourself and your family, rather than simply focusing on the outcome of an abusive partner, providing you with the support you need. If you need to and are able to speak to someone, please don’t wait a moment longer to get in touch. You can either email me at cath@cathkarlinfamilylaw.co.uk or give us a call if it’s safe to do so on 0131 357 1515.

Advice On Co-Parenting During Coronavirus

co-parenting during coronavirus

Today and over the coming weeks and perhaps even months, society is facing worrying and unprecedented times with the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially when it comes to co-parenting during Coronavirus.

The UK and Scottish governments have made clear social distancing guidelines to help the NHS and save lives. This means that individuals must not leave their home unless it’s for essential shopping, daily exercise, medical help or work if working from home is not possible.

The Coronavirus pandemic has left parents from all corners of the country asking a lot of questions about how to go about their daily lives, especially where children are involved. In particular, many divorced parents are wondering how to continue to abide by their child custody agreements and how to continue co-parenting during Coronavirus. How do you successfully co-parent and move children between households when you are asked to stay at home?

Not only are the guidelines for this issue blurred, but it is these times when it is now more important than ever for children to spend time with both of their parents and that each parent continues to have an equal opportunity to engage in family activities. This is to keep to their set out child custody agreement, but first and foremost, to continue putting the child first and to provide as little disruption as possible to their daily routine.

COVID-19: Parental Responsibilities And Rights

The Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, has outlined some general advice to parents and carers whose children are the subject of orders made by a court relating to parental responsibilities and rights. They are:

  • Parental responsibility of a child continues to rest with the child’s parents or carers and not with the court.
  • During Coronavirus, parents or carers will act sensibly, safely and in line with the UK and Scottish governments’ guidelines outlined above.
  • During COVID-19’s lockdown, parents are able to continue to co-parent when living in separate homes.
  • If there is a court order or formal agreement in place, parents should stick to these arrangements.
  • If there is a less formal agreement, parents should discuss with each other on how best to approach the situation and make a decision on whether a child is to move between homes after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s current health, risk of infection or the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
  • Keep all lines of communication clear and mutual in order to manage the situation and its solutions agreeably, sensibly and practically. For example, one parent may think it’s safe for contact to take place, but the other parent may not agree, causing conflict and stress for everyone involved.
  • Where parents, acting in agreement, conclude that the arrangements set out in a court order relating to parental responsibilities and rights should be temporarily varied, they are free to do so. It is advised to outline this agreement in writing, such as an email or text message.
  • Where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements, but one parent is concerned that complying with the court order would be against current government advice, then that parent may exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement to one that they consider being safe.
  • If after this event, the parent’s actions are questioned by the other parent, the court is likely to look to see whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the government’s guidance, together with any evidence relating to the child or family.
  • Where, either as a result of the agreement or as a result of one parent on their own varying the arrangements, a child does not get to spend time with the other parent as set down in the court order, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to be made to establish and maintain regular contact between the child and the other parent safely. This could be done through FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom or any other video call or telephone conversation.

Information regarding court hearings and urgent business can be found on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal website. Any non-urgent business is currently being dealt with in court and any non-urgent child welfare hearings are not proceeding in court.

In urgent cases, the court will consider an application for one to be fixed if it is deemed essential. For child welfare hearings that do proceed, the normal rule is that parties must attend child welfare hearings, but given the current Coronavirus crisis, parties are not required to attend child welfare hearings in person at this time.

Other Guidelines On Co-Parenting During Coronavirus

In addition to the above guidelines, there are other pieces of advice you can follow to make it easier to co-parent for all involved during COVID-19. Co-parenting is a challenge under normal circumstances so trying to maintain a healthy dynamic with your ex during a global pandemic is doubly hard.

Some more guidelines include:

Be Healthy

It goes without saying; comply with government guidelines and social distancing, but also model good behaviour for your children, including intensive and regular handwashing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched and stay informed with the most reliable media sources. This is all to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus and keep children and parents healthy.

Be Flexible

Children’s routines have been severely disrupted, especially with their classrooms now being at home and if parents are considered as key workers or work in the healthcare industry. It is now more important than ever to maintain a civil relationship with the other parent for the sake of your children and your own sanity.

During this time, children can feel extremely unsettled and anxious so having their parents problem-solve and be united will make all the difference in how they fare during this crisis.

Co-parents must also be willing to adapt child support in the event of a job loss, which is becoming more and more common during this crisis as businesses need to cut costs to stay afloat. If this is something that co-parents need to do, ensure any new agreements are noted in writing.

Be Understanding

Normal routines have taken a huge hit and so it is vital to be understanding of each other’s schedule. Now that the majority of Mondays-Fridays are working from home, it may be an idea to split childcare in half here, especially now that schooling is taking place at home.

With this routine in place, each parent has their fair opportunity to spend quality time with their child as well as having a few child-free days to catch up on work. More importantly, the child would also have equal time with each parent, whereas he/she might not have beforehand if parents had a weekday/weekend split.

Act Rationally

In the first instance, parents must follow their court orders when it comes to child custody, but when it may be unsafe for the child to spend time with a parent, such as exposure to COVID-19, other arrangements can be made.

However, courts may not be able to hear these cases at this time as explained above so if a parent has potentially been exposed to COVID-19, act rationally, even if it goes against your custody agreement. Don’t risk exposing your children to the virus just to enforce the custody schedule.

Compromise Now

It is absolutely key to keep in constant communication with each other, be transparent and always compromise. Get through this crisis together with as little conflict as possible. This pandemic evolved too quickly and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months, so we must all do what we can together.

Be Mindful

Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic and maintain a calm and collected attitude towards your children, conveying to them that things will eventually return to normal. Avoid making careless and passing comments in front of children and avoid exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at an age-appropriate level.

How Can Cath Karlin Family Law Help You With Co-Parenting During Coronavirus?

The team at Cath Karlin Family Law understands how stressful child custody and co-parenting can be under normal circumstances, let alone co-parenting during Coronavirus. It is crucial to remember that you should always put your child’s needs first and to put any differences aside.

During this unprecedented time, the courts will only deal with urgent matters on a triage basis, so if you need any information or advice on co-parenting during Coronavirus, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We also offer mediation and collaborative options to solve any issues and these can be done over video links to keep in accordance with social distancing. Whatever you’re struggling with, Cath Karlin Family Law is here to help you.

What Happens to Property Owned Before Marriage During a Divorce?

property owned before marriage

Married couples often buy a property and a range of other assets together, but what happens to property that was owned before the marriage began if the couple decides to divorce?

Many people in the UK are uncertain about who gets ownership of pre-marital assets in divorce cases and knowing what happens to property owned by one spouse is particularly tricky. 

To understand this, we need to know how the court defines marital property and assets in general. This is because it will impact how they view property owned before marriage and if they will define it as marital or not.

What is Matrimonial Property?

Generally speaking, matrimonial property is all property acquired by the parties after the marriage or civil partnership, unless it is non-matrimonial property.

Non-matrimonial property is usually found in the form of gifts or inheritance from a third party, as well as pre-marital property. The net value of the property and assets are calculated to work out how best to distribute between the two parties after a divorce.

The property can be owned either individually or in joint names as a family before the breakdown of the marriage, at the time you stop living together or start leading separate lives if you stay in the same house or raise proceedings for divorce. This date is referred to as the “relevant date” or “date of separation.”

What Happens to Property During a Divorce? 

There is a wide range of variables that can affect what happens to the property during a separation and divorce, including how long they’ve been married, how long each person has lived in the property and how much they individually earn.

If children are involved, deciding who gets the house in a divorce can sometimes make the process even more complex.

Is Property Owned Before the Marriage, Marital Property?

You may believe that according to the definition above that property and assets obtained before the marriage wouldn’t be classed as marital property.

However, it is not as clear as that in real life. When you are married or in a civil partnership, many things will be shared and contributed to throughout the relationship. This is where the definition of marital property becomes blurred. 

The answer to this question will depend entirely on you and your partner’s situation. It can depend on a range of things, such as how long your marriage was and how financially independent you are. However, there are a few universal rules and concepts that will apply.

The Marital Home

This is the most common example where property owned by a party before the marriage may come into account. If a house owned by one person prior to the marriage is lived in as your marital home, this will usually be treated as a matrimonial asset, although that does not necessarily mean it would be divided equally. 

If a house owned prior to the marriage by one person is not the marital home, it may be considered non-matrimonial property and treated differently.

If you never lived in the property as your marital home, then your chances of successfully claiming for a share of the home are quite slim. Of course, if you can demonstrate to the court that you will be significantly worse off without funds from selling or renting out the property, your claim may be considered.

Non-matrimonial assets, such as separate properties owned before the marriage can be considered by the court if there is simply not enough money for you to rehouse otherwise. You would need to demonstrate to the court that your needs cannot be met without funds from the sale of this property.

Contributing to a Property

If you are not on the mortgage of the property, there is still a chance you can have a claim to it. The family home is given special status in any matrimonial court proceedings. Just because you are not named on the title deeds or the mortgage does not mean you are not entitled to any share in its value.

You can also still apply for a Matrimonial Homes Right Notice even if you are not on the mortgage. If it is your home, you can apply.

If you are not married but have lived together in a property to which you have contributed in other ways, such as helping with extensive renovations, which have added value, then it is worthwhile seeking specialist family law advice about any claims you may be able to make.

This can apply to properties which were not deemed the marital property as well. If you have made a financial investment into the property, which has helped increase its value, you have a case to claim a stake in it.

How the Courts Fairly Divide Matrimonial Property in Scotland

Scottish law tries to apply the “clean break principle.” Capital or lump sum payments, pensions, sharing orders and property transfer orders tend to be made. Ongoing support following the divorce is rare and usually only awarded for a short period of time after the divorce is finalised.

The courts aim to share the value of the matrimonial property as “fairly” as possible. In most cases, this is defined by an equal division of assets. However, there are arguments that can be made based on a number of factors and individual circumstances to tip the balance.

Any such factors are often considered a means to advance an argument for “unequal division” of assets.

Some examples of such situations include:

  • One party is unable to work.
  • One party was the primary caregiver and thus gave up the opportunity to work.
  • One party gave up their career in order to further their spouse’s career.
  • Any business assets owned pre-marriage by one party, which have been significantly increased during the course of the marriage.
  • An unequal division is necessary for the good of the children. For example, to allow them to continue living in the family home and not disrupt their routine.

Types of spousal support:

  • Both parties to a marriage are legally required to financially support one another.
  • There are two major types of spousal support which can be claimed.

Support for the Division of Assets in Scotland

If you need any further assistance regarding the information on the division of assets in Scotland or anything else regarding matrimonial separation, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we’ll be sure to do all we can to assist you.

You can also call Cath Karlin Family Law on 0131 357 1515 or email cath@cathkarlinfamily.co.uk for any further advice.

Marriage Story: A Cautionary Look at Divorce Lawyer Selection

marriage story

Marriage Story is the latest Netflix film to sweep the world. This film is a self-reflective piece on how a marriage can end but a family can endure. Every generation or so there is a big divorce movie. We all remember Kramer v. Kramer. It was interesting to compare both movies. What is clear is that human emotions don’t change. The anger, resentment, hurt and sense of loss felt by those going through a separation and divorce were still very present in this movie. What we had hoped to see was a sea change in the way that the Divorce Lawyers approached helping their clients. Sadly this wasn’t evident in this movie. 

Marriage Story has a star-studded cast, starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as the titular married couple Charlie and Nicole. They are supported by Laura Dern as Nora Fanshaw, Alan Alda as Bert Spitz and Ray Liotta as Jay Marotta – the divorce lawyers. Charlie and Nicole attempt to go through an amicable split without the involvement of divorce lawyers initially but eventually involve divorce lawyers with mixed results due to the disastrous way the divorce lawyers manage their clients’ expectations. 

The film has received praise from many parties, including those involved in the family law profession, for its accuracy in its portrayal of proceedings. This is down to the fact writer-director Noah Baumbach has very real parallels to draw from. His divorce from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh will have inspired much of this story, with Nora being supposedly inspired by his wife’s real-life lawyer, Laura Wasser. Many of the scenes are even filmed in her law practice, where many of their own sessions would have taken place. At Cath Karlin Family Law we would suggest that the film is a template of how to divorce badly. 

Finding the Right Divorce Lawyer for Your Situation

The couple initially goes down the route of mediation. They were not a particularly high conflict couple and this was an appropriate means of dispute resolution for them. That didn’t work as Nicole felt the mediator (a man) was biased towards her husband Charlie. 

At Cath Karlin Family Law we believe that the most dignified way to conduct a divorce is either through mediation or collaborative practice. Had the couple been screened properly and perhaps had a more directive mediator or had they opted for a collaborative divorce where they had there own collaborative lawyers and a family therapist as part of the team, they would likely have had a successful outcome. Even after mediation ends, they remain civil and cooperative that is until their divorce attorneys enter the picture.

The aggressive lawyers played by Laura Dean and Ray Liotta behave in an appalling fashion. They stoke up past resentments where few really exist. They approach the separation as a battle. They actively encourage court and thereafter encourage both parties to present a picture of their ex based on half-truths in order to discredit them in court. This then destroys any goodwill either party had towards the other. There is a scene in the movie where after a particularly nasty court hearing they have a horrible altercation having tried to resolve matters between them amicably. 

One can understand why and how they got to this position.  You love someone and then fall out of love with them. You have a child together whom you both adore. Both of you have your own perceptions as to the role you played in the marriage and the sacrifices you made. You both may feel hard done by but ultimately, you still respect your spouse and want the best for them and your child and want to do right by them. 

Charlie originally wants to manage it all without lawyers but Nicole feels vulnerable without having someone advocating her position.  The issue in this movie is that Nicole chose an attorney who was putting words in her mouth and steering her in a direction she didn’t really want to go down. Once served with divorce papers Charlie reacted in a similarly polarised, aggressive manner which then led Nicole to up the ante and so it went on. 

The lawyers essentially stoked up negative emotions and provided no outlet ( in the form of family therapists.) This ultimately destroyed the good relationship Charlie had with Nicole and her wider family and led to a miserable existence for their son who was exposed to a lot of their bickering. 

There was one chink of light in the whole movie when Charlie consulted a less aggressive attorney played by Alan Alda. Alan Alda was seen as weak and Charlie failed to take his advice and resorted to using Ray Liotta, despite early reservation. “I need an asshole of my own” he so eloquently puts when questioned why he went with him. This leads to events escalating in court and this film is a pretty authentic portrayal, of what happens when you instruct the wrong legal team. 

Don’t think for one minute that a strong divorce lawyer – “one who has your back” has to denigrate your spouse and adopt fighting talk. Be very concerned if they suggest court as a first resort. 

Lawyers make money from the court and from essentially engaging in pointless battles where there are no winners except the lawyers. Many of these legal battles in this film were set in California. You may think that this is just the way the Americans do divorce. 

Not so. Collaborative Practice – a kind divorce where lawyers work together in a team with family therapists and financial advisers not against one another in the interests of their clients and children was born in the US. The movement is now worldwide. Good divorce lawyers know that the value they add is keeping the family from imploding, making sure that the children have two happy, cordial parents and preserving the marital estate not throwing it away on a court battle.

Find a Lawyer With Your Best Interests at Heart

A lot of the time, it seems like Charlie and Nicole are haplessly going along with what their lawyers want. This often can happen but clients should always remember that it’s their case and their life, so take control and vet your divorce solicitor well.

Neither of the lawyers seems to have their clients’ best interests at heart in this film. The Ray Liotta character doesn’t listen to his client and instead tells him what to do. A good lawyer will listen to and try to find out what the client truly wants.

The character of Nora seems to have Nicole’s best interests at heart, providing her with someone who actually listens to what she wants. This seemed like a well-scripted act to reel Nicole in and persuade her to go to court. A cynic would say this “act” was financially motivated. Even at the end, Laura Dern’s character gets Nicole 55/45 split in custody because she didn’t want “Charlie bragging to his friends that he got 50/50.” Nicole clearly wasn’t interested in the deal, so again it seemed personally motivated. Make sure you find a lawyer who is motivated to support and look out for your children’s best interests and doesn’t want to destroy your spouse. 

We here at Cath Karlin Family Law believe that divorcing well with the right guidance is less financially, emotionally and psychologically draining and will go along way to preserving good relationships for you, your spouse, children and the wider family and mutual friends. This is why we aim to have you carry out your separation in the most respectful and dignified way possible – always placing the best interests of the children first.

How to Survive Christmas During a Divorce

christmas divorce

Christmas is seen primarily as a time for family and loved ones and is a magical time of the year for children. There is the anticipation of the presents they may receive, the relief of having a few weeks off school and the excitement of seeing friends and family. 

This makes it a particularly difficult time for those in a divorced family. When going through a divorce, you lose a loved one who you would normally spend the Christmas period with. Naturally then, if there are children involved in the breakup, neither party will want to lose precious time with their children over this time of year.

Seasonal and festive holidays like Christmas can be really hard for parents not living with their children. Divorced parents around the Christmas period often feel jealous, lonely, sad, angry and resentful. Instead of a period of festivity, it can be a time of heartbreak. Separated families may feel as though everyone else is enjoying the perfect family festivities, while they feel more isolated and alone than during the rest of the year.

This situation can be distressing and tense. From a legal point of view and child law perspective, it can be very frustrating for non-resident parents if the resident parent doesn’t grant access over Christmas. However, at this festive time, the last thing kids need is warring parents fighting over who gets custody on the all-important Christmas day.

To make sure your child has a wonderful and stress-free Christmas this year, we are offering parents in the process of divorce or who have recently divorced some advice when trying to agree on arrangements for their children over the festive period.

Plan Ahead

Talk to your former partner now about what you would like to happen and how to ensure you both get to spend quality time with your child. Take into account the fact that each of you will want a chance to see your child open their presents and to spend time with members of your respective families you may not see that often.

However, you should be ensuring that your child’s best interests are at heart when planning. It can be tempting to feel like you deserve time regardless of the difficulty but your child may not see it like this.  

Talk to Your Child

If your child is old enough to understand what is going on, then it is a good idea to explain the arrangements you have agreed. While young children may be happy to fit in with your plans, teenagers may have plans of their own which need to be considered. It is not their fault that the split has occurred and their desires should be taken into account.  

Christmas is a busy time of the year, with school plays and parties as well as family commitments to fit in. Whatever their age, knowing which parent they will be with and when, and if they are likely to see you together, can help avoid uncertainty and anxiety.

Agree on Handover Arrangements

Think about how your child will move between you. Arrangements need to be practical and not unnecessarily disruptive. Think about transport arrangements if one or both of you are likely to have had a drink and how you will accommodate your child’s almost inevitable desire to take presents they have already opened with them. Consider asking family or friends to get involved in collecting or dropping off your child if this would help.

Some parents find that alternating Christmases works well so that each parent is guaranteed to have every other Christmas with their child and on their year off they may have them on Boxing Day instead. Others are happy to split Christmas Day in half so that one parent has their child on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and the other has them Christmas afternoon and for most of Boxing Day.

This however only works if the two families live close or extended family are close to one of the parents. Is it really fair on the child or children to be spending the Christmas period in the car for 3 hours to one parent just to leave the next day? Sometimes you will need to put the children’s comfort before your own desires. 

Get Help If You Need It

If you and your former partner cannot agree on arrangements for your child that work for everyone, talk to your solicitor about how mediation could help. Sometimes, working with a neutral person with no vested interest in the outcome (other than the happiness of your child) can help to resolve deep-rooted differences in opinion and find creative solutions you may not have previously considered.

If you have a court order in place, it is likely that the question of what will happen at Christmas will have already been agreed, but it is still possible that problems may arise. This is particularly true if you or your former partner wants to make different arrangements this year.  

How to Make Time Together Special

The time that you spend with your children over Christmas should be special. Many separated parents try to outdo each other, which is likely to lead to stress and disappointment, as you often can’t live up to the expectations and may end up feeling second best. 

Similarly, non-resident parents sometimes feel that they must compete with their child’s other parent when it comes to buying presents. When one parent is spending a large number of expensive gifts or taking the children on a costly holiday, the other parent may feel that he or she can’t offer the same amount. This can lead to heartache, as parents may feel like they have let their children down if they cannot afford to compete.

Even if you may not be the team, you should still be a team as parents. Be sure you communicate with your ex-partner as to what they are buying and come to an agreement. Ensure that you include your children in conversations where possible as to what they want and if there are some presents they can’t get this year. 

Getting Support for Your Divorce

Are you going through a divorce in Scotland? Cath Karlin Family Law is an experienced specialist family law practice based in Edinburgh which will help you carry out the separation in the most respectful and dignified way possible – with the best interests of your children always in mind.

If you need any further assistance regarding information regarding matrimonial separation or any other family law queries, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we’ll do all we can to help.

Mother and Father Rights in Getting Child Custody

black-and-white-child-connected

Accustoming yourself with the right information regarding child custody information is absolutely vital for any parents going through a separation. Certain elements of the divorce process can differ by location – which is why it’s important to be fully equipped with the facts when going through a divorce in Edinburgh.

Investing in the services of an experienced Edinburgh-based family law firm will ensure that your divorce is carried out as smoothly as possible,  removing the need to involve children in the further distress of the court system, whilst also ensuring that the best outcome is produced regarding your child’s custody.

Knowing your rights from your wrongs

Essentially, as long as the father is on the birth certificate and the child was born after 2006, both parents will have set parental responsibilities and rights when going through a divorce. Civil partnerships going through a separation will usually have identical rights in regards to children as well. 

Those who are not married and also not officially listen within the child’s birth certificate will require to apply for a “dellerator of paternity” in order to obtain a court order – a process which can be done easily in the same court action.

Civil courts are responsible for handling family matters within Scotland, who have the power to make Child Arrangement Orders. This order determines where the children will live on a permanent basis and also define the visiting rights of the other parents involved. 

In terms of who can apply for a child court order, the most eligible candidates include the child’s parents, step-parents, grandparents, other close members of extended family and any other individuals with a strong stake on responsibility. Within Scotland, a child order can be made for any child under the age of 16 years old.

The types of court order involved in child custody explained

Essentially, the two major decisions that a court will make regarding child custody in most divorce cases is where the child will reside and what means of contact they will have with the other spouse involved. However, there are often many variations to this, which will be touched upon below.

A residence order states where the child will live on a permanent, long term basis. It is not uncommon, however, for a court to make an order in favour of more than one parent – in which case it will have to be defined how much time they will spend with each side of the couple. A shared care arrangement is where both parents have a residence order over the child, meaning custody is essentially split. 

When a residence order is given to one parent, then a contact order regulates what means of communication, care and correspondence the other parent is to have with the child. Included in this order is details and rights regarding visits, overnight stays, telephone calls, weekends and holidays. 

At the forefront of the court’s decision making process is the best interests of the child involved. As part of this order, specifics regarding time, date and means of contact will be set out. Deliberately failing to obtain or indeed follow a child contact order where one is necessary could equate to contempt of court and prosecution. There are two major forms of contact which a court order can detail, namely: 

  • Direct Contact: encompassing all face to face meetings and interactions between adults and children, including overnight stays and trips out. In certain circumstances, the court may deem it necessary for contact to be supervised here.
  • Indirect Contact: consisting of all contact which is not conducted in person. This is often ordered due to geographic circumstances, such as in cases where one parent is particularly far away from the children. This type of contact order is often deemed necessary in cases where work is needed to be done to re-establish a relationship between a parent and child after a long period of time where little contact has taken place – after which the potential for direct contact to be made is there after. Telephone calls, letters, video calling, text messaging, email, direct messaging and other forms of digital communication are all included under this category.

In certain cases, the court may deem a Specific Issue Order to be necessary if parents/guardians are unable to come to a sound agreement regarding a certain element of the child’s life. Such examples of a disagreement may relate to health (e.g. whether to have a certain operation), education (e.g. what school to attend) or any other large one-off event (e.g. whether they are to go away to a foregin country for a fixed period of time).  

Financial support and child custody in Scotland

All over Britain, The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has jurisdiction over child support and financial obligations for children following divorce – up until a child is 20 years of age. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that if the child attends university then they are liable to receive financial support up until the age of 25 (or until studies conclude).

The fee which is required to be paid is calculated based on various factors – namely gross income of the parent without primary custody. The financial income of the parent who holds the residence order is irrelevant in this process. Those who are earning in excess of £3000 a week, however, considered to be a “high earner”, have reached the salary limit and will not have to pay extra if earning excess of this. 

The CMS will charge a fee if they need to extract payment from any partner who refuses payment – so it is always beneficial to pay this amount willingly. Also, there is no jurisdiction that the CMS hold over paying school fees, meaning that this needs to be agreed upon by the individuals or alternatively dealt with in court. 

How to get support regarding child custody

We here at Cath Carlin Family Law believe that going through a divorce is financially, emotionally and psychologically draining enough time without having to deal with a custody battle over children. This is why we aim to have you carryout your separation in the most respectful and dignified way possible – always placing the best interests of the children first.

Get in contact today for any help, guidance or support with all elements of the Edinburgh divorce process.

How to Support Your Children When Going Through a Divorce in Edinburgh

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Going through a divorce can be a deeply distressing time for all parties involved, however, it is vital to minimise the stress and grief experienced by the children as much as possible. There are various ways you can support your children when going through a divorce, including attitudes and techniques you can take up as well as services which are available – all of which will be covered over the course of this article. 

A United Front

Regardless of age and other specifics of your situation, it is absolutely pivotal that parents never put children in the middle and force them to “pick a side”. Such a situation can cause detrimental psychological and emotional damage to the children and is highly unlikely to produce a result which is in the best interest of any party involved. 

The best stance to take in the majority of cases is for the parents to take a united front when informing their children of the plans to divorce. Where possible, it is highly advised to tell your children together of your plans – as this cements the idea of a unanimous decision and minimises against the chance of blame or resentment being forged in your child’s mind. 

Initially, informing your children of the divorce is an unavoidable and highly distressing prospect for many parents. However, a highly effective and proven strategy for minimising the unrest this is likely to cause is to prepare and stick to a script which answers the likely questions and concerns the children are going to have. 

The overall message you are trying to communicate is that the divorce is a unanimous decision, in the best interest of both parents involved. There should be no blame placed in the children’s direction or towards one side of the marriage. Ultimately, they should be left wholly aware that your love and support for them remains exactly the same. Investing in the services of experienced divorce lawyers can help advise you in best implementing this strategy.

Consistency is Key

Provided in 2012 by The Office for National Statistics (ONC), the latest figures we have on British divorce is that 42% of marriages will end in lawful separation. From this figure, Young Minds estimate that a mere 70% of divorced fathers continue to have regular contact with their children. 

It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that divorces are carried out in the most conscientious and uncomplicated way as possible – to give the best chance for relationships between the children and parents be maintained in the future. Resentment, distress and blame are all emotions which can be produced by a messy, acrimonious divorce which lessen the chance of healthy functional relationships being upkept between parents and their children moving forward.

As well as maintaining a united front between parents, another way to maintain this consistent attitude is by attempting wherever possible to maintain familiar routines, reliable arrangements and minimise any further change wherever possible. Continuing prior relationships and routines with extended family and friends, for example, is an effective way to minimise the stress of which change can have upon children/

The Benefit of Professional Care

Professional Mediation and Collaborative services can be a highly beneficial venture to help provide parents with a supported, respectful environment to discuss your children their best interests moving forward in the midst of a divorce. 

A neutral, professionally trained mediator is used during mediation in order to facilitate this safe environment for discussions regarding children and divorce. Depending on the nature of your divorce and the relationship between you and your ex-partner, there can either be one mediator present or two mediators who work with each side of the couple individually – a process referred to as “co-mediation.”

Collaborative practice occurs where couples opt to not go to court and simply sign a contract to work together with other professionals (e.g. lawyers, family therapists and financial neutrals) in order to reach a mutual agreement regarding various aspects of the separation. This is a common option for divorces which have children involved as it minimised the stress placed upon them.

As part of this collaborative process, a series of facilitated, non-tactical meetings are arranged and carried out by professionals to help pinpoint and support the family’s overall needs. The negotiations are always carried out in person with the clients present, whilst professionals draw up a formal record of the contents of the meetings. 

Parenting after Parting classes, alongside the advice and emotional support of family consultants who will help you in drawing up a parenting plan, are other professional services which are available to help you carry out your divorce as painlessly and straightforwardly as possible. 

Handling Courts with Care

Wherever and whenever possible, involving children in court places should absolutely be avoided. Civil courts within Scotland are responsible for handling family matters – where Child Arrangement Orders will determine visiting rights and where they will live.

As long as the father is on the birth certificate and the child was born after 2006, there will be will lawfully-required parental responsibilities and rights for any couple going through a divorce. If court is deemed absolutely necessary then there are a number of different orders that the courts can make regarding children following a divorce – particularly involving custody, relocation and child support. 

It is important to accustom yourself with this child custody information and be sure of your rights when going through a divorce involving children. We find it important to stress, however, that the support and guidance of a highly professional and experienced family law firm can ensure that the divorce is carried out as smoothly as possible, without the need to involve children in the further distress which the court system is likely to bring. 

Getting Support for Your Divorce

Are you going through a divorce in Scotland? Cath Karlin Family Law is an experienced specialist family law practice based in Edinburgh which will help you carry out the separation in the most respectful and dignified way possible – with the best interests of your children always in mind.

If you need any further assistance regarding information regarding matrimonial separation or any other family law queries, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we’ll do all we can to help.

Advice on Child Law and Relocation for Expatriates in Scotland

child law

As an expatriate living and working in Scotland, it is important to know and understand the legal implications of bringing your children to Scotland and moving your children from Scotland. This is to avoid breaching domestic laws and international child abduction regulations.

In order to move a child outwith Scotland when they are habitually resident in Scotland, a parent must have the consent of the other parent of the child to carry out this act. However, if the other parent does not consent to the move, then it is possible to seek a specific issue order from the Scottish court allowing the child to be relocated to another country.

When making their decision, the court will regard the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration and will not make the order if it is better for their welfare for none to be made at all.

The court can also take into account the views of the child when making their decision. When determining what is best for the welfare of the child, the court will take various factors into account, such as the reasonableness of the proposed move abroad, the importance of the contact with the other parent and the motive of the parent wishing to move the child.

The court may also determine whether the child was habitually resident in Scotland. Habitual residence is a legal concept that is used to indicate a persons’ connection to a country’s legal system.

A habitual residence is a place that someone has a genuine connection with on a fixed basis. In order to establish the habitual residence of a child, the court will look at whether the child is settled in the country and to what the degree the child has integrated into life within that country.

If the aforementioned procedures are not followed, a parent runs the risk of committing a criminal offence in Scotland. Furthermore, taking a child out of Scotland without following these procedures would constitute a ‘wrongful removal’ under international child abduction laws.

A wrongful removal occurs where a child is moved from their habitual residence to another country in breach of the custody rights of the other parent, and if it is found that a wrongful removal has occurred then it can be ordered that the child be returned to their habitual residence.

It is also important to ensure that when moving with children a parent does not carry out a ‘wrongful retention’ of a child under international child abduction law.

This concept is slightly different from wrongful removal. Wrongful retention would arise where there had first been a lawful removal but then the parent and the child stayed in the new country past the date they were supposed to return and in violation of the custody rights of the other parent.

For example, wrongful retention would occur where a parent and child visited Scotland from Australia with the consent of the other parent, but then decided to remain in Scotland for a longer period of time and the other parent in Australia did not consent to this decision. If this is the case, the Australian authorities can request that the Scottish courts order the return of the child to Australia.

As someone who has a lot of experience in guiding people through child law and expatriate divorce processes, I am able to provide you with professional legal assistance. To find out more about the cost of child law in Edinburgh or to take the first step towards beginning the legal process, get in touch. Contact Cath Karlin Family Law on 0131 357 1515 or via the online contact form.

How Matrimonial Property is Divided in Scotland

division of assets

The division of assets details the decision made over what happens to the money and property between a couple when a marriage or civil partnership ends.

If a court is asked to make a ‘financial order’, then a judge will make the decision regarding how these assets or matrimonial property will be divided.

The factors that will be taken into consideration for this, alongside how long the couple has been together, are age, finances,property, the standard of living, both individual’s ability to earn money, living expenses and the role of each individual in the relationship, such as the ‘breadwinner’ or a primary carer.

The judge will ordinarily see it in everyone’s best interests to arrange a ‘clean break’, especially if there are children or other family members involved. This is so that all assets are divided out and that no financial ties to one another remain. If there are children involved, then the judge will usually make arrangements regarding them first – most notably regarding child maintenance and housing arrangements.

Matrimonial Property in Detail

The Matrimonial pot is the entire net value of assets which belong to the couple both individually and owned in joint names at the time which the couple formally separated. The date of separation is sometimes a matter of dispute but generally means the date you started living separate lives under the same roof, the date one of the parties moved out or the date of service of a divorce. This is referred to as the “relevant date” or “date of separation”.

Any property acquired pre-marriage or after the relevant date is not considered matrimonial property with the exception of any house of furniture purchased prior to the marriage to use or live in as the family home. Any gifts from third parties or inheritance money are exempt from matrimonial property.

The likes of business interests, pensions and life policies, however, are not exempt. All property acquired during the marriage is included, regardless of which individual acquired it. Likewise, all debt acquired during the marriage is considered within the matrimonial property – regardless of who acquired it.

In many cases, particular assets can be difficult to quantify as falling within or outside of the matrimonial property. This article provides a broad and basic overview of what is and is not categorised as matrimonial property. However, it is always best to seek legal advice for individually ambiguous cases. For example, the likes of redundancy or accident payment which have been paid after the relevant date could still be considered as matrimonial property.

How the Courts Fairly Divide Matrimonial Property

In Scotland, the law is governed by two primary acts:

  • The Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985
  • The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

As mentioned earlier, Scottish law tries applies the “clean break principle.” Capital or lump sum payments, pensions sharing orders and property transfer orders tend to be made and ongoing support following the divorce is rare and usually only awarded for a short period of time after the divorce is finalised.

The courts aim to share the value of the matrimonial property as “fairly” as possible. In most cases, this is defined by equal the division. However, there are arguments that can be made based on a number of factors and individual circumstances to tip the balance.

Any such factors are often considered a means to advance an argument for “unequal division” of assets

Some examples of such situations include:

  • One party is unable to work.
  • One party was the primary caregiver and thus gave up the opportunity to work.
  • One party gave up their career in order to further their spouse’s.
  • Any business assets owned pre-marriage by one party which have been significantly increased during the course of the marriage.
  • An unequal division is necessary for the good of the children. For example, to allow them to continue living in the family home and not disrupt their routine.

Types of Spousal Support

  • Both parties to a marriage are legally required to financially support one another.
  • There are two major types of spousal support which can be claimed.

Ailment (Regular Payments Pre-Divorce)

Ailment is where regular payments are made pre-divorce in order to ensure adequate spousal support, which is usually paid in monthly amounts. This usually occurs in situations where one individual has been the main earner and thus supported the other during the course of their marriage.

Such support is crucial in cases where the parties opted to live separately following separation and thus one party would likely struggle to cope with the increased financial strain on their own.

If agreed or indeed granted by the court, then the following will be taken under heavy consideration. The parties’ “earning capacities” or ability to work, the parties’ resources and needs and all other relevant circumstances of the case. The lawful duty to pay such ailment usually ends on divorce unless an earlier date is mutually agreed in which all payments will be made by.

Periodical (Regular Payments Post-Divorce)

The second type of spousal support which can be defined is paid periodically after the divorce is finalised. Due to Scottish law favouring the “clean break” in regards to the division of assets, this means spousal support is far less common.

It will be awarded in cases in which the party seeking it can show that the financial settlement which was reached upon separation leaves them in a financially inadequate position. This is because, after the divorce, they are still struggling to adjust to the notable loss of financial support they were living by previously.

The factors which will be considered for such a case go way beyond those which would be considered in ailment spousal support. The award for a periodical allowance can end a maximum of 3 years after the divorce is finalised. However, awards of 12-18 months are the most common in these instances.

Support for the Division of Assets in Scotland

If you need any further assistance regarding information on the division of assets in Scotland or anything else regarding matrimonial separation, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we’ll be sure to do all we can to assist you.

How Do You Get A Divorce In Scotland?

divorce in scotland

Before going through the divorce proceedings in Scotland, it must first be established whether the Scottish courts have jurisdiction of the case and thus have the necessary authority to legally carry it out.

In general, the majority of people married or in civil partnerships in the UK and living in Scotland will be able to get a divorce in Scotland. You may only obtain a divorce in Scotland. However, you need to meet the residence rules regarding where you live and also have a marriage which is recognised as valid within the UK. If you are unsure as to whether you meet both of these criteria, then it is important to get in contact with an expert family lawyer for advice.

When do the Scottish Courts Have Authority over the Case?

There are several times when the Scottish courts have authority over a divorce case. These are:

  • When both parties are habitual residents of Scotland.
  • When either spouse was last habitually resident in Scotland and one spouse still resides there.
  • The applicant has Scottish domicile and has lived in Scotland for six months prior to the application for divorce.
  • The applicant has a Scottish domicile.
  • The party applying for the divorce has lived in Scotland for 1+ years prior to the application.
  • The party who is not actively pursuing the divorce is currently a habitual resident of Scotland.

What Do You Need To Do First?

We tend to agree on a division of assets, children and spousal maintenance before we proceed to divorce. 

The division of assets divides up the matrimonial property of both parties from the marriage. It is then required to prove your residence and make sure you meet the residence rules detailed above, which usually orientates around the individual’s habitual residence and/or domicile.

What’s Habitual Residence and Domicile?

These are both legal concepts used as a means of indicating a person’s connection to that legal system.

Habitual Residence: the place that someone has a genuine connection with on a fixed basis. This is generally the place they live or work.

Domicile: this term is more abstract. Every person is born with a domicile origin and cannot be without one at any point during their life. In order to change this, you have to move to another country with the intention of making this your new home for the foreseeable future on a permanent basis.

Due to the nature of these two types of residence, the domicile is much harder to prove and thus it can often be a far lengthier process to prove that you have become habitually resident in this country and now consider it your long-term home. If you are an expat living and working in Scotland, then you will be able to divorce here. However, you may have to meet a specific residence requirement.

It is often the case that divorce must be finalised in the individual’s country of domicile. As a domiciled Scot who is living and working abroad, you may be able to use your domicile of origin as means to allow your divorce in Scotland, despite the fact you are no longer a habitual resident there. Divorces can also be carried out in the country in which you are a habitual resident.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce?

The grounds for divorce are covered by the Divorce (Scotland) Act 1976. It first has to be established that the Scottish court system has the authority to deal with your divorce before you are able to apply. Once this has been done, the grounds for divorce can be established in four major ways.

The first two of these grounds are seen as the fault grounds of divorce:

  1. Proof of irretrievable breakdown due to adultery by either spouse.
  2. The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage due to unreasonable behaviour on the part of your spouse.

However, the second two grounds that can be used to indicate the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage are far less fault-based and thus less acrimonious by nature:

  1. A one-year period of non-cohabitation that both spouses have consented to.
  2. A period of two years of non-cohabitation between the spouses. Consent is not required in this case as the length of the period of separation alone is enough to establish that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.

How Is The Divorce Process Carried Out?

The two processes carried out in order to obtain a divorce in Scotland are the “simplified procedure” and the “ordinary procedure”.

Simplified Procedure: this is the cheaper method. It is essentially a form that is completed and lodged in court. However, its use is restricted to families where there are no children under the age of 16 and where the spouses are not seeking financial provision on divorce from the court.

In cases in which these conditions of the simplified procedure are not met, then an ordinary procedure must be carried out. However, these are usually more expensive and time-consuming.

Ordinary Procedure: often referred to as the DIY procedure. This means obtaining a divorce in Scotland is more expensive and takes longer as you’ll need a solicitor to carry it out.

However, it must be emphasised that the Scottish courts will want to be wholly satisfied that the welfare agreements for children are satisfactory before granting a divorce. In these cases, children are ultimately considered to be the priority.

Support For Scottish Divorce

Are you going through a divorce in Scotland? Cath Karlin Family Law is an experienced specialist family law practice based in Edinburgh which could be the answer to your problems. 

As someone who has been a client myself, I am committed to helping anyone experiencing civil law issues and helping them come through the other side in as strong, content and stable position as possible.

If you need any further legal advice regarding information on the division of assets in Scotland or anything else regarding matrimonial separation, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us here at Cath Karlin Family Law and we’ll do all we can to assist you.

What is the Real Cost of a Divorce in Edinburgh?

cost of divorce edinburgh

Whether you are about to begin the divorce process or it’s just an idea that you are currently toying with, you have probably considered how much it’s going to cost you. There are a lot of things that make up the cost of a divorce such as the court fees and hiring a specialist lawyer, and it does quickly add up. You will even need to consider how much you are likely to be spending on building a new life as an individual, as you are probably used to splitting bills and expenses. These are all things that you need to think about when working out how much a divorce is likely to cost you.

Keeping the Cost of Divorce in Edinburgh Low

There’s no denying that divorce is expensive, it’s something that most people are well aware of before even beginning the legal process. Let’s face it, nobody has ever assumed that going through a divorce is going to be a cheap and cheerful walk in the park. More often than not, divorce ends up being even more expensive than a lot of people initially realise. However, that’s not to say that every divorce has to break the bank. By taking the correct steps and seeking professional legal assistance, it is possible to keep the cost of a divorce in Edinburgh relatively low. This is even easier if you and your ex-partner are in agreement and nothing is being contested. It’s when there are disagreements and conflicts that the cost of a divorce tends to rise dramatically, as everything must be carefully considered and compromises must be made.

How you choose to deal with your divorce can really affect the overall cost, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. If there’s nothing to dispute, your divorce will be on the more affordable side of things. Plus, it’s likely to be finalised a lot quicker. If both of you agree on the major points of separating your lives such as child custody, the division of assets and how you will be splitting the finances, you probably won’t find the cost of divorce to be alarmingly high. You will need to pay the mandatory court filing fees. Even if you choose to handle your divorce yourself without a lawyer, you will still need to pay these court fees as everyone applying for a divorce is required to do so. But, you probably won’t find yourself laden with many other expenses. A divorce of this kind when there are no disputes is referred to as an uncontested divorce, and it’s certainly a simpler and cheaper way of doing things. However, it’s not always possible and many couples are faced with a contested divorce.

Choosing to handle a divorce yourself does have its disadvantages, such as there being no guarantee that you are going about things the right way. If you and your ex-partner are not in agreement on everything and even if you are it’s best to get a divorce lawyer. Though you will need to pay for their time and services, you can save money in the long run. For example, a divorce lawyer can ensure that you are getting a fair share of assets and joint finances. Nobody wants to finalise a divorce only to realise that they were entitled to a lot more than they realised and they have actually ended up considerably out of pocket, or with their ex-partner walking away with far more. With a divorce lawyer in your corner, the entire process of getting divorced is a lot simpler and a lot less stressful. You can relax knowing that an expert is taking care of everything, so you can focus on rebuilding your life.

It’s hard to put an exact figure on the real cost of a divorce in Edinburgh as it really does differ from couple to couple, but you should always consider the cost of the inevitable lifestyle changes that a divorce brings. For example one or both of a divorcing couple will usually need to buy a new home. Similarly, one of you may need to buy a new car as this is not an asset that will continue to be shared. There’s evidence to suggest that the real cost of a divorce is even more substantial than initial estimations, especially when you take into account that a lot of expenses will no longer be split between two incomes. Of course, if you are keen to get a divorce then this cost is something that is worth bearing and most people who are divorcing think the costs are worth it. A divorce provides you with a clean break, a legal separation, and most importantly an ability to move on with your life.

Cost of Divorce at Cath Karlin Family Law

At Cath Karlin Family Law, I understand that divorce can be costly. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to keep the cost as low as possible, you and your ex-partner will always end up paying something. This is often a lot more than people initially realise before going into a divorce and the total cost does vary hugely depending on your individual circumstances. Luckily, there are things that you can do to ensure that your divorce is as affordable as possible. There is no reason as to why a divorce needs to cost an arm and a leg, not when there are ways to keep the cost low. With an expert divorce lawyer helping out, you can relax knowing that you are not going to be paying any more than is necessary.

As someone who has a lot of experience in guiding people through the divorce process, I am able to provide you with professional legal assistance. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a contested or uncontested divorce, you can count on me to fight for what you truly deserve. To find out more about the cost of divorce in Edinburgh or to take the first step towards beginning the legal process, get in touch. Contact Cath Karlin Family Law on 0131 357 1515 or via the online contact form.

Why a Specialist Divorce Lawyer is The Best Option For Your Divorce

lawyer in edinburgh

It’s a known fact that going through a divorce can take its toll on an individual as well as other people involved such as the family. Starting from filling in the petition, to negotiating with your spouse to then going through the trial process; it can be a lengthy, tiring and often emotional process from start to finish with many hiccups appearing along the way. Cath Karlin, a lawyer in Edinburgh, can show you why a specialist lawyer will be the best.

Many divorces do not tend to go smoothly, with the negotiation processes often taking longer than necessary. This is especially common if participants disagree on things such as possessions and the home if they shared one together or if it has been discovered that a partner has been unfaithful during marriage. It can also become particularly tricky if children are involved, and spouses can’t agree on who the main carers will be.

If you are considering getting a divorce from your partner, whether this is a mutual decision or something you have decided on yourself, it may be beneficial to you to get a specialist divorce lawyer involved in the process, especially if you feel that negotiations with your partner may become difficult.

Cath Karlin is a lawyer in Edinburgh who has years of experience in dealing with divorce cases. Read on to discover why you may need a divorce lawyer, particular cases where you may need one more and why it is important to choose the correct lawyer for your case.

Why Use a Specialist Divorce Lawyer?

Since there are many steps involved in getting a divorce, there is often a lot to think about plenty to discuss. A divorce is likely to uproot your life, making changes to where you live and who you live with, changes to your finances and can be further complicated where children are involved. Before you decide to employ a divorce lawyer, you must first decide what you want from your divorce settlement. While this can, of course, be a difficult thing to decide on, it is important that you have at least a rough understanding of what you want to achieve so a divorce lawyer can work with you to get it.

Deciding on how to handle these changes on your own can take a lot of responsibility and integrity. However, a specialist divorce lawyer can help you make potentially life-changing decisions and ensure the best outcome for you after the divorce process has been completed.

We’re only human, and the process of divorcing your partner can cause heightened emotions which can often lead to poor decisions. However, if you use a specialist divorce lawyer, you can rest assured that difficult decisions will be made with your best intentions in mind and that you will be guided through tricky obstacles that may occur during your divorce.

When Would you Specifically Need a Divorce Lawyer?

There are certain times when a divorce lawyer is needed more than others. For example, you may need a divorce lawyer if:

  • one of you is financially dependent on the other, for example, if you have given up work to look after children
  • your divorce settlement needs to reflect the value of more complicated financial assets, such as pension funds, business interests, trusts or overseas assets
  • you have joint debts and aren’t sure how to sort them out
  • you think your partner is hiding information about the true financial position
  • you want to be sure that you settle financial claims once and for all by getting a consent order

If you feel you are in any of these situations, then chances are you could benefit from getting a divorce lawyer involved in your divorce.

There are more situations that may arise where a divorce or family law solicitor may be needed more. For example, if you need to take urgent action such as if you think your spouse is about to take your children abroad, you are a victim of domestic abuse, you are worried about being left homeless or you feel extra amounts of pressure to agree with everything your spouse wants.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Lawyer

It is important that you find a lawyer that has the right expertise to deal with your unique case. Since all divorce trials are different, it is important you choose a lawyer in Edinburgh who has experience with dealing with complex cases. In many divorce cases, there are usually many sprawling issues such as family and custody matters, financial and asset distribution. It’s important to choose a lawyer that is specialised and has a broad range of experience in a variety of scenarios.

A good lawyer in Edinburgh will often think of alternative routes for your divorce process and should make these clear to you from the get-go. For example, going to court should be a last resort and instead, your divorce lawyer should suggest other possible avenues to resolve your separation proceedings, such as Collaborative Practice, Mediation, Arbitration and Lawyer Negotiation.

It is also important to find a divorce lawyer who you get along with, as you will be sending a lot of time with them to discuss your case. Luckily, Cath Karlin strives to have a good working relationship with her clients so you can work together during this difficult time and has years of experience in divorce cases.

Why Choose Cath Karlin

Cath Karlin is a specialist lawyer in Edinburgh with years of experience in divorces, both smooth and rocky, and can offer sound and genuine advice to get you through your divorce trial. If you’re looking for the support from a straight-forward, calm and collected lawyer who can consider all options in a divorce to get the right outcome for you, then get in touch with Cath Karlin today.

Divorces are a tough process. Cath Karlin can provide you with all the support you need to get you through this difficult time. You can either call Cath on a no obligation chat on 0131 357 1515 or alternatively, you can fill in a contact form if you are interested in finding out more about prices and quotes.

Will Brexit Effect ‘Cross-Border’ Divorce in Scotland?

How Will Brexit affect cross-border divorce in Scotland

There’s a huge amount of uncertainty currently around what the UK’s Brexit deal will look like when we leave the EU in March 2019 (if a deal is agreed). This uncertainty spreads across all industries, from employment and income to divorce and overseas travel. How will Brexit affect the legal process when obtaining a divorce, especially for cross-border couples?

“Brexit will cause havoc for Scots couples living in separate European countries while undergoing a divorce.” Consensus Collaboration Scotland

Consensus Collaboration Scotland, a network of lawyers, family consultants and financial experts specialising in out of court divorce settlements using a technique known as “Collaborative Practice”.

As a Specialist Family Lawyer in Edinburgh and a member of the collaborative practice network, I wanted to offer my opinion on this topic.

Roughly 1 in 10 cases involve cross border divorce proceedings in Scotland and there are 140,000 international divorce cases that take place in the EU each year. For these people, Brexit could be a disaster. Since 2000 we have benefited from Brussels II a European Union Regulation designed to promote legal uniformity and consistency of family law between EU countries. Under this regulation, a person was allowed to raise divorce proceedings if they satisfied a residence requirement in most EU countries, even if they were non nationals. Once proceedings had started, any other EU country with jurisdiction would be compelled to give precedence to the member state in which proceedings were first raised.

What Happens If We Leave The EU?

As soon the EU Withdrawal Bill is passed, we lose this. To put this into context, if a couple one of whom is German and one is Scottish file for divorce and both decide to do that in their country of birth, then courts in both countries could be dealing with the same case in tandem, and possibly come to conflicting decisions.

As Brussels II would no longer be applicable, the Courts in Germany will not have to give precedence to a case in Scotland, even if it was raised first.

What Does This Mean For My Divorce?

This will have the potential to result in expensive, long drawn out divorces, where a legally recognised settlement may never be reached. There will simply be no clarity as to which divorce ruling stands, throwing the whole process into chaos. This will be particularly detrimental if there are children involved.

Divorcing couples in Scotland will also suffer from what has been termed as ‘Divergence and Atrophication’. Put simply, this means that as EU laws continues to develop, ours will become the old, less good provision, while the rest of the EU27 will enjoy the new, enhanced provision. Post Brexit, Scots family law will return to the 1968 framework, which is the last time the we have engaged in international treaties.

Some academics have suggested that “there is nothing to fear”, because there is other international provision that Scots can rely upon (the Hague Conventions of 1970, 1980, 1996 and 2007). Leaving aside the issue that no guarantees can be made that we will be able to rely on them as we do now, post exit day, the bottom line is that the Hague provision (if available) is less than the provision that Scots currently enjoy. Scots are going to lose valuable rights. They face the prospect of prejudice, uncertainty, delay and expense. We need the Justice Committee to highlight what the impact of Brexit is going to mean to ordinary Scots going through family disputes.”

How Will Brexit Affect The Court Process In Scotland?

While Brexit will have a divisive effect on court divorces across Europe, out of court methods such as collaborative divorces are heading in the opposite direction. The European Network of Collaborative Professionals (ENCP) is seeking to promote a ‘harmonisation of collaborative divorce practices across Europe,’ by standardising best practice through training and support for international collaborative divorce practitioners. The aim is to create a Pan-European Gold standard to ensure consistency of practice and encourage cross border collaboration.

How Cath Karlin Family Law Can Help

We believe divorcing couples living abroad will increasingly turn to out of court divorce settlements to avoid the post EU Withdrawal Bill fall out. For example, collaborative divorce methods where couples have access to financial planners and family consultants who, together with collaborative lawyers, help the couple to agree an out of court divorce settlement. This is often a less stressful, less confrontational and a cheaper way to part ways. Importantly, it allows the couple to make the decisions rather than a court of law. I believe this is the future for cross-border divorces.”

If you’re considering an alternative to a court based divorce, contact me today for advice and information on how to divorce differently.

Child Custody In Edinburgh: Where To Find Support As A Separated Parent

Child Custody Edinburgh

Separating from your partner can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ll ever experience, but what about when a child is involved? There are many complex issues to navigate in the world of divorce, separation and child custody. Protecting your child will be number one in your list of priorities but sometimes this might seem an impossible task to do alone. You might not know where to begin, or just feel you need a little outside help. Read below to find out some of the best places to seek support for child custody issues:

Child Custody Support For Separated Parents:

There are many forms of support available to you as a separating parent. It’s important to seek the help you need from these sources where possible, to ensure you’re fully supported and able to cope without letting the process have too big a negative impact on your life. Forms of support include:

  • Your partner. If you’re lucky enough to be parting on amicable terms, you and your partner can work together to navigate through the trickier parts of separation and ensure your child is kept shielded from as much stress as possible.
  • Family and friends. Your close circle of loved ones can provide an invaluable support network when going through a separation and applying for child custody. Friends and family can support with childcare, helping you get back on your feet, communication with your partner, sharing their own separation experiences, recommending support channels and more.
  • News and articles. At Cath Karlin we’ve developed a hub of supporting information for separated parents, dealing with every aspect of the process – from comforting your children to seeking legal counsel. Our informative website can help answer a lot of the questions you may have – and if not, feel free to drop us a message for anything you’d like more information on.
  • Dedicated charities. There are many charities based in Scotland that are dedicated to providing family support for parents and children in times of separation. Relationships Scotland is one such charity, which has a helpful info line to seek support on.
  • Legal services. There are many avenues of support to be found from legal counsel. Family law specialists offer a range of services for separating parents and can help you explore many options before resorting to the courts. Mediation, arbitration, residence orders, contact orders, collaborative practice and lawyer negotiation are just some of the options available to you through the support of your legal professional.

Tips To Help Your Child During Separation:

The thought of where to begin during separation can be overwhelming, so we’ve made a handy helping checklist of things to think about in order to ensure your child feels as settled as possible during the process:

  • Remember to make your child feel valued. When parents split up a child needs to be reminded that they’re loved and that the separation was nothing to do with them.
  • Handle telling your children correctly. If possible do so with both of you present and try not to argue in front of them. Presenting a united front will help your children feel as settled as possible in the circumstances.
  • Don’t speak badly of your partner in front of your children. It’s unfair for you and your partner to criticise each other in front of your child, or to drag them into the middle of the situation.
  • Be truthful. If your child asks something that you don’t know the answer to, tell them it’s still something you and your partner are considering. Don’t lie to them – it’s something that will upset your child and make it harder for them to trust you or move on from the situation.

If You Can’t Agree On Child Custody Arrangements With Your Partner:

If being in the same room alone as your partner seems too difficult, or you’re struggling to come to an agreed custody arrangement with them, then mediation could be the answer.

The process of mediation uses a neutral professionally-trained mediator to facilitate settlement discussions between parties. It may involve just the separating couple and the mediator or can be up to a four-way process where there are two mediators, which is known as a “co-mediation.”

Mediation takes a much more softer approach to custody arrangements and your mediator can act as an additional source of support, helping you reach an amicable arrangement with your partner that gives minimum disruption to your child’s life and leaves you feeling in complete control of your life.

Seeking Child Custody Through The Courts:

If all other forms of negotiation fall through, you can seek child custody through the courts. This can be a stressful process, so it’s advised to utilise all of the support mechanisms available to you – from friends and family, to news articles and your trained legal counsellor. The Court will take many points into consideration but will always rule in favour of an outcome that has the child’s best interests at heart.

Experienced Family Law Specialist:

At Cath Karlin Family Law in Edinburgh, we’re trained specialists in family law, with a wealth of expertise in supporting parents through the separation process. We guide you through every step of the process, from initial communication with your partner and children, to applying for court orders and coping in the long-term. We pride ourselves on providing a highly personal service – helping you maintain control over your lifestyle and build a positive future for you and your children.

Our aim is to help you avoid the courts and navigate the process of separation from start to finish as hassle free as possible. We can also recommend other professionals to support you in tandem with our work, ensuring you have a complete network for all the help you need.

To find out how we can help, get in touch today by calling for a no obligation chat on 0131 357 1515, emailing cath@cathkarlinfamilylaw.co.uk or by filling out our contact form, here.