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A relationship breakdown is likely to be a difficult and stressful time regardless of whether a couple are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting.

Matters can become considerably more complicated and emotionally charged where children are involved, particularly if there is a dispute regarding the arrangements for the children, or confusion over the rights of family members, such as grandparents. In such cases, it is wise to consult a solicitor at the earliest opportunity to find out what your options are.

Any issues relating to children are dealt with under the Children Act, whether the parties are married or not, although unmarried fathers may not always have the same rights as married fathers when it comes to parental responsibility.

The courts are unlikely to interfere where couples have reached an agreement and made their own arrangements, provided there are no concerns about the child’s welfare. However, where an agreement cannot be reached between the two parties, the matter may need to be dealt with by a court, where a judge will make a decision based on the child’s best interests. Such a decision is legally binding and must be adhered to by both parties.

This guide covers some of the key points relating to children issues in the event of a relationship breakdown. However, please note that this is for general guidance only. You should always seek professional advice tailored to your own circumstances before entering into any arrangements.

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To find out more about how we can help you, please contact our family law specialists.