Parents preparing to separate are likely to do so as soon as Christmas is over, according to a leading Bromsgrove family lawyer.
The alert has come from matrimonial expert Nesheela Nazir who believes that despite putting on a brave face for their children, many couples use the festive break to organise and plan their next move – which can often mean relocation.
With the Christmas break approaching the family law specialist has pointed to the rising number of cases she is handling where parents are seeking to take children to relocate within the UK or to live overseas – a result of changes in circumstances and a rise in international marriages ending in divorce.
Miss Nazir, an associate at law firm mfg Solicitors, said: “For most families Christmas is a joyful time and an opportunity for a well-deserved break, but for some it is also the time when they prepare to implement a major change, particularly if they are about to separate.
“Very few will want to do it at this time of year because they won’t want to spoil things for the children. But the New Year is often the chance people take for a fresh start, especially if they are looking to relocate in the UK or abroad.
“Ministry of Justice statistics show that in 2012 there were 384 children who were made the subject of orders allowing them to be removed from the UK following legal proceedings.”
“That’s why we are advising couples this Christmas to come to a compromise if possible. Divorce is bad enough but when it involves relocating it can double stress levels for couples.”
If the courts intervene, Miss Nazir said they would check whether the application to relocate was genuine and not motivated by ‘selfish desire’ to remove one parent from the children’s lives. Parents who have a child arrangements order can take children out of the UK for up to four weeks without the other parent’s consent. However, children cannot be taken out of the UK for over four weeks or to live permanently without the other parent’s consent or a court order.
“The court’s focus will always be on what is best for the children and their welfare is paramount,” said Miss Nazir.
“They will be looking to see whether the parents have the best interests of the children at heart too. They will want to see that the plan to relocate is based on practical, thoroughly researched proposals.”
Miss Nazir is offering couples who are looking to separate a free 15 minute initial telephone discussion or appointment upon request during December and January – a time when divorce rates are high. Readers can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the word “article”.