CHILDREN whose parents are separating or divorcing should stay in touch with their grandparents and other vital extended family members according to experts at a westcountry legal practice (January 2020).
Children in the Middle, the only legal practice in England and Wales specialising in giving parents direct access to barristers, says grandparents help children feel secure when their parents’ split-up.
Family barrister and Children in the Middle co-founder, Elizabeth McCallum, who co-founded the practice with Exeter barrister, Sarah Evans, explains: “Given the cost of full-time childcare these days, many grandparents now have more regular contact with their grandchildren than they might have had in the past. They often act as childminders during the week to help their working children out. This creates a strong bond between children and grandparents.
“In 2017, it was revealed in a YouGov poll for the charity Age UK that two-fifths (40%) of the nation’s grandparents, those aged 50 plus, have provided regular childcare for their grandchildren. This is thought now to have increased with greater numbers involved.
“However, what then happens when parents’ separate? How are those grandparent relationships maintained for the benefit of the children?
“Usually, both parents respect the grandparents’ relationship with the children and do all they can to maintain it in the future. More importantly, it should help the children feel more secure during their parents’ separation.”
However, Children in the Middle says problems can arise, when, after separation, one parent struggles to have a relationship with their children.
Fellow barrister and co-founder of the legal practice, Sarah Evans explains: “During any court application, the court will inevitably just focus on the parent’s relationship with the children, not the grandparents’ or other family members.
“In extreme cases, a parent can lose contact with their children and this can mean the grandparents can also lose their relationship with their grandchildren too.
“The knock-on effect for the children is that they lose half of their wider family and identity, so these are really difficult situations for everyone involved and it’s important to get expert advice on how best to handle them. We’re here, ready to listen and happy to offer our professional, expert help to any families in need of assistance.”
Children in the Middle’s team of barristers prefer to help clients reach an amicable agreement, that’s best for children, outside the courtroom.
“Wherever possible, we’ll help parents reach a voluntary agreement over the arrangements for their child.
“But, if court action is required, as barristers, we can provide the experienced representation a parent needs for every stage of the proceedings, from initial advice, drafting an application to the court, representation at hearings anywhere in England & Wales and preparation of witness statements and evidence.
“However, as a parent you may just need one meeting with us so we can give you advice and guidance on the best way forward for you and your child.”
Elizabeth has practiced in this area of law for more than 14 years. She initially qualified as a barrister, then transferred to become a family solicitor. More recently, she has resumed her career as a barrister.
Sarah, who has been a children law specialist for more than 30 years, has a wealth of experience having spent time as a family lawyer working in the USA, Scotland and London before joining Magdalen Chambers in Exeter as a barrister.
She adds: “Most of our work is done remotely, which means geography is not a barrier. It also means we keep our overheads down, a benefit we can pass on to you. What we offer is affordable, expert legal advice about your children.
“By having direct access to our barristers, you can save money by managing your own case through handling the admin and the paperwork, while still benefitting from specialist legal advice from a barrister, who is a children’s law expert.”
As well as helping with court cases, Children in the Middle can offer assistance with appointments and paperwork to parents living anywhere in the UK.
For further details, call Children in the Middle please visit www.childreninthemiddle.co.uk.