Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!
Family Law Solicitors – Gosforth, Newcastle and Sunderland
As Family Law Solicitors, unfortunately, it’s not unusual to hear that parental disputes arise over the issue of Child Maintenance. One common scenario which arises is that in which, following the parties’ separation, one parent – typically a father – has been deemed by the other to be paying an insufficient level of child maintenance, and the other has – on this basis – chosen to suspend all contact between non-paying-parent and Child.
Whilst the level of maintenance paid by a Father might be relevant on divorce or separation – i.e. when negotiating a financial settlement – generally speaking this is not a consideration which the Family Court would have regard to where they are being asked to determine whether a child should spend time with their non-resident parent.
In dealing with this type of case, the Court’s presumption will be that it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both of their parents. If – prior to the matter being brought before the Court – there was an established arrangement or routine for the child (i.e. a stable ‘status quo’), a parent who is seeking to deviate from that arrangement will need to persuade the Court that there are cogent reasons for doing so.
The fact that a child may be at risk of suffering harm in the care of that parent would be such a reason; however, it is somewhat doubtful whether anything short of this would be seen as a legitimate reason. If the dispute has simply arisen due to a perceived failure of one parent to pay sufficient maintenance, the Court is likely to have very little patience with the dispute, and some stern words for the parent who terminated the arrangement.
Clearly, on one view, a parent’s failure to pay child maintenance could be seen as a disregard for their responsibilities towards the child; however, the crucial point is that by withholding contact in such a scenario, the parent with whom the child lives would effectively be seeking to punish the non-paying parent, and using the child as a weapon in the process. This is contrary to that child’s best interests and clearly fails to consider their welfare – which is all the Family Court is concerned with.
If you need help with your divorce or separation, then why not contact us for a Next Steps Divorce Advice Session and to see how we can help you. We can be contacted on:
Family Law Specialists Solicitors Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Family Law Specialists Solicitors Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
or email us: email@example.com
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