Whether you are separating partners or spouses involved in a divorce process, we know that your top concern is often what will happen to your children.

Questions about living arrangements, maintenance, and school fees can often be overwhelming. It's also important to explore valid concerns regarding the physical or emotional abuse of your children by the other parent, just as it is crucial to address any ill-founded allegations made by the other parent in an attempt to obstruct contact between you and your children. Ultimately, your priority is to secure what is in their best interests.

Our accredited and top-ranked family lawyers specialise in navigating these complexities, ensuring a smooth process that prioritises your children's best interests.

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Custody is an outdated legal term no longer used in Scotland or England. Nevertheless, it continues to be a commonly used. In Scotland, the norm is for most parents to automatically hold parental rights and responsibilities, with parents jointly agreeing where the child or children should live, known legally as "Residence". Other factors that need to be taken into how much time is to be divided with each parent and what arrangements there will be for education, as well as travel when appropriate.

In most circumstances, it is better for parents to reach such agreements on out of the courts, rather than pursuing a lengthy legal battle. Often, we will be able to resolve disputes about children through negotiation and some straight-talking. We can offer mediation for disputes about children, which means acting as a neutral and independent mediator where parents have their own lawyers. 

Whilst we will try and avoid litigation where possible, it is sometimes necessary to raise proceedings or indeed to defend legal proceedings raised by the other party. Our renowned family law team have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the Family Court process if needed, including an in-house Solicitor-Advocate within the team and strong relationships with some of Scotland's most esteemed family law advocates. 

Our award-winning family lawyers also have extensive experience in how to resolve financial maintenance of children, as well as school fee disputes; and international child disputes such as child relocation and child abduction. They can advise on all aspects of child maintenance, including how maintenance payments are calculated, compliance with the Child Maintenance Service’s expectations, what to do if you think you are not receiving enough maintenance, the protocol if one parent lives overseas, which parent has responsibility for education costs and whether maintenance should be paid for stepchildren.

Even if a dispute about children seems intractable, it may be that a good family lawyer can help you to find a way through, whether by negotiation, mediation or arbitration. If that's not possible, then there is the option of court. A court will decide matters based on the best interests of the child (which might be the same or different to what either parent wants). A court will only make an order if necessary, and will take account of the child's views, if mature enough to express these.

It can be particularly difficult to predict costs in a court case involving a child. Factors will include how your spouse chooses to deal with things; your own aims and goals; as well as what intervention the court thinks is required (for example a report into the circumstances, from either an independent reporter or a child psychologist). We aim to be as clear as possible about fees.

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