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What are the grounds for Dissolving a Civil Partnership?

If you have taken the difficult decision to end your civil partnership, you will will need to show that your relationship has broken down irretrievably by proving one of four facts:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour, which includes but is not limited to domestic abuse
  2. Desertion
  3. Two years separation plus consent
  4. Five years separation.

Unlike marriage, it is not possible to use adultery as a fact in a civil partnership dissolution.

What is the Process?

You must have been in your civil partnership for at least a year before you can apply for a dissolution.

It is advisable to obtain legal advice to ensure that you meet the legal requirements and your documents are lodged correctly.

Legal advice can also prove invaluable when it comes to dividing your assets and resolving disputes about child arrangements.

Legal Advice

For further advice on dissolving a civil partnership, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936.

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At Allard Bailey Family Law we assist LGBT+ couples, individuals and families with a range of personal legal issues.

During their happiest times, we assist couples who are moving in together with drafting cohabitation agreements, sometimes called living together agreements.  We also advise on pre-civil partnership agreements and nuptial agreements for couples who are taking the exciting step of formalising their relationships.

Through the harder times of separationdissolution of civil partnerships and divorce we can assist you to move forward with dignity and respect.

Although same-sex couples now enjoy the same rights as everyone else when it comes to relationships, starting a family has its own set of challenges.  We enjoy working with people at all stages of the parenting journey and can assist you with preconception agreementsadoption and surrogacy, including those starting a three-parent family. 

Supporting LGBT+ Parents by Challenging Opinions

Despite the progress that has been made for the LGBT+ community in recent years, it is a sad fact that many people still view same-sex parenting with suspicion.   We know the stigma surrounding LGBT+ families is unfounded, so we produced a video with Stephen Fry’s educational platform Pindex to challenge negative opinions with facts and common sense.

“We need to challenge the misconception that somehow being raised by same-sex parents is second best. Research clearly shows that children of same-sex couples are often happier and healthier, even when social and economic advantages were taken into account.  What matters for a child’s outcome is a loving and supporting home life.” Louise Allard, Managing Partner 

READ MORE  /  WATCH VIDEO

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Louise Allard, Joint Managing Partner of Allard Bailey:

“Despite the progress that has been made for the LGBT community in recent years, many people still view same-sex parenting with suspicion.  Sadly, children face bullying because of their same-sex parents and their parents often face stigma. We believe this stigma is unjustified and hope our video is a contribution to ending this.  It is intended to promote social inclusion, encouraging all children and those who influence them to accept differences in our society with toleration.”

The video has been released free on Stephen Fry’s YouTube Channel, Pindex, as an aid for schools that are introducing LGBT inclusive relationship education for the first time.

The government’s new relationships and sex education curriculum came into effect from September, requiring LGBT-inclusive lessons in secondary schools.  It stopped short of making LGBT+ inclusion lessons compulsory for primary schools. Instead, they are only “strongly encouraged” when teaching about families to include families with same sex parents.

Louise Allard said:

“We need to challenge the misconception that somehow being raised by same-sex parents is second best. The research clearly shows that children of same-sex couples are often happier and healthier, even when social and economic advantages were taken into account. Of course, nobody is suggesting one kind of gender combination is better than another, just that what matters for a child’s outcome at school is a loving and supporting home life.

It is disappointing that the government didn’t make teaching about LGBT+ families mandatory in primary schools as so many primary schools now have students with same-sex parents.  We hope those schools will choose to educate their population.”

It is hoped that many primary schools will still use the ‘No Outsiders’ programme developed by Andrew Moffat, the deputy headmaster of Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, which focuses on educating primary school children about the characteristics protected by the Equality Act, which includes sexual orientation.

The number of same-sex couple families in the UK increased from 152,000 in 2015 to 232,000 in 2018, a rise of 53.2 per cent.

Research suggests that an estimated two-thirds of children with same-sex parents experience some form of stigma due to their parents’ sexual orientation.**

Click to watch video on YouTube

*https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/23/children-raised-by-same-sex-parents-do-as-well-as-their-peers-study-shows

** https://theconversation.com/kids-from-same-sex-families-fare-as-well-as-peers-or-better-28803%20

For further information contact Evette Pottinger.

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Two of the most common reasons for challenging a Will are for want of mental capacity and/or undue influence, so we will discuss specific steps you can take to protect your estate from challenges of this nature.

Challenges for Undue Influence
Your Will is a record of your wishes as to how you want your estate to be distributed after your death and who you would like to be responsible for making it happen. It is for you to make those choices and no one else.  If anyone else makes or influences these decisions, your Will cannot be valid.  Family members who are not aware of, do not like or do not understand a person’s relationship, have been known to challenge a Will because they believe there was undue influence from their partner.

The most obvious example of undue influence is when someone forces you to leave assets in a specified manner for fear of repercussions.  These may include, threats of abuse, being disowned or neglected, being told you will not be looked after properly and so on.

Undue Influence is not always that obvious, it also includes actions causing you to have untrue beliefs about a person or group of people.  Misguided family members may wrongly believe that that they are justified in making such allegations if they believe your partner has turned you against them, your culture or faith.

There are some simple steps you can take minimise the chances of challenges of this nature being successful:

  1. Instruct an independent practitioner to advise on your Will. A good practitioner will always ask to see you on your own to ensure you can speak openly without reprisal and will be able to confirm that this was the case.  They will also have discussions with you to ensure that any changes to your Will are rational and properly considered and that you fully understand the implications.
  2. Make your wishes known. If it is feasible, a discussion with family members about your wishes is encouraged.  Not only will this show there is no undue influence, it may also prevent disputes or animosity if there is someone who can inform others about your relationship and intentions on your death, so there are no unexpected surprises when your Will is read.
  3. Prepare a Statement of Intent. If you foresee issues, it can be wise to provide a more detailed statement of your wishes to accompany your Will, explaining the reasons you wish to distribute your assets in this way and providing any additional instructions for your executors about how to respond to challenges.
  4. Write personal letters. Depending on the reasons you foresee issues, you might also choose to write letters to be given to certain people in the event of your death requesting that they respect your wishes, even if they are unable to understand them.

Challenges for Lack of Mental Capacity

When you give instructions and execute your Will, you must know what you are doing and understand the implications of your actions.

In legal terms this broadly means you, will need to:

  • Understand that you are making a Will and how a Will works
  • Understand what assets and liabilities you have and what you are gifting in your Will
  • Appreciate how others will be affected by the contents of your Will and that you will be expected to make provisions for certain people
  • Have no disorder that affects your mind thus causing you to dispose of your assets in a manner that you would not otherwise do so

Mental Capacity is a complex consideration as it is possible for you to have capacity for certain matters and not for others, for example if you have periods of lucidity making it difficult to know when it is the right time to take instructions or execute a Will.  Sometimes, the issue of capacity may not be obvious and that can make things difficult.

It is these complexities that often lead to questions being raised after a person dies.  If a serious question of mental capacity is raised, it will be for your partner and any other beneficiaries who want to rely on the Will to prove that you did not lack capacity when you executed your Will.  There are some steps you can take to help them:

  1. Instruct an independent practitioner who will follow the Golden Rule. If there are concerns, a good practitioner will follow the ‘Golden Rule’ and instruct an appropriate medical practitioner to assess you and determine whether you are able to execute a Will or not.  The medical practitioner will be encouraged to act as a witness when the Will is signed, but this is not always possible.
  2. Ensure everything is recorded. If a dispute is expected it may be a good idea to speak to a medical practitioner anyway and have the discussion recorded in medical logs or reports, which will be useful evidence.  Any records detailing your health at the time the Will is executed will always be helpful, even if mental capacity is not considered to be an issue at that time.
  3. Make your wishes known. If you feel comfortable in doing so, you should have open and frank discussions about your wishes and the contents of your Will with beneficiaries, friends and family.
  4. Prepare a letter of wishes. You could also write a letter of wishes to explain the rationale behind the contents of a will where mental capacity could be an issue. This helps the court understand the trail of thought and see if it has been influenced by a mental disorder.
  5. Review Your Will Regularly. If you review your Will with your practitioner, it will demonstrate that you have not changed your mind during the passage of time.   If you wish to make significant changes to your Will, there should be a detailed discussion as to why those changes are being made and this discussion should be noted in the practitioner’s records.

 

LEGAL ADVICE

At Allard Bailey Family Law we regularly assist in drafting Wills where there are complex or sensitive wishes and can help you to protect your intended beneficiaries from unwarranted challenges, as well as defending them should disputes occur.

To book a consultation or telephone appointment, please contact Sangeeta Rabadia.

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It seems like a win-win situation and it can be, if you are realistic about your expectations and choose your co-parents wisely.  You should bear in mind that, however well you know each other, co-parenting will change your relationship irreversibly and you need to be able to work together for the next 18+ years to provide the loving and supportive family environment you envisage for your child.

We would always advise that you discuss your hopes and expectations about your involvement with the child in detail and put the key commitments in writing before you conceive.  Not only will this minimise the chance of misunderstandings once your child is here, it is a good test of your compatibility as parents and will help you decide whether you should take the next step together.

Questions you could consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Who should have parental responsibility?
  • What type of parenting arrangement will you have? Will time be spent together as one big family or separately?
  • Do your parenting values match?
  • Will the child have one main home or two homes?
  • How will you agree on a name? What surname will the child have?
  • What level of financial responsibility will you all have?
  • What happens if one of you wants to move away?
  • What happens if one set of parents separates?
  • Do you want to appoint the other parent and/or your partners as guardians in case something happens to you?  You should talk to a solicitor about guardianship appointments.

If you decide to go ahead and have a child, it can be sensible to formalise the arrangement with a more detailed Pre-conception Agreement.

If you have already conceived or have a child, it is both possible and sensible to formalise your shared care and financial arrangements to provide everyone with certainty, especially your child.

If you are in the unfortunate position that your co-parenting relationship is breaking down, you could benefit from the advice of a solicitor with a child-first approach to help you resolve the situation in the best way possible for your child.

LEGAL ADVICE

For further information on any LGBT family law, child law, shared care arrangements or guardianship matters please call 020 7993 2936 to schedule a consultation with a specialist solicitor, or if you prefer you can get started online.

 

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Where does that leave people who want to reach a swift conclusion?

It is not surprising that our clients are increasingly looking for alternative methods to resolve issues that are already before the court or about to commence.  Whether the dispute relates to financial matters, property or arrangements concerning children, arbitration is an option that we are increasingly suggesting.

What is family arbitration all about?

Arbitration is a formal process that involves an impartial adjudicator who resolves the dispute in a private tribunal.  It is a process that can be used to resolve single issues as well as fully contested matters.

How does it work?

Arbitration is a voluntary process and both parties must agree to use arbitration to settle the issue(s) between them.

You can choose which arbitrator you wish to use based on their areas of expertise.  If you are unable to agree, there is a process available which will enable an arbitrator to be appointed for you.

During arbitration you present your case to the arbitrator who will make a decision that is final and legally binding.  A solicitor can advise about the process of arbitration and whether your dispute is suitable.

Is Arbitration suitable for child related issues?

Yes, providing there are no safeguarding issues. Since July 2016, arbitration has been available for children issues such as:

  • where a child should live;
  • contact arrangements;
  • educational or religious issues;
  • disagreements over a child’s routine or non life threatening treatment;
  • disagreement over a holiday abroad;
  • relocation within England and Wales and some international relocation (depending on the destination country in question)

There are some issues that cannot be determined by an arbitrator such as:

  • child abduction;
  • where the disagreement relates to an application to return a child to England and Wales from another country;
  • where there is a dispute over the administration of or management of life changing or life threatening treatment;
  • where a party lacks mental capacity or is a minor.

What about financial disputes?

Yes, these too can be resolved through arbitration with the added benefit of being completely confidential.  The process can be used whether you are/were married or living together.

What are the benefits of arbitration?

Arbitration is well suited to the ‘new norm’ of remote hearings via Zoom or Skype.  Many arbitrators will be experienced solicitors or barristers who are all currently using remote platforms to attend hearings and represent their clients.  Arbitration offers a wealth of benefits including:

  1. You choose the arbitrator
  2. Your arbitrator will hear the case from start to finish, ensuring consistency, which is often not possible in the court system
  3. You will not have to attend a congested court, where time is at a premium, and you will not be competing with other cases on your arbitration day. You can be assured that you will have the arbitrator’s whole attention
  4. It is private and the award (for financial issues) or determination (children issues) is never published, therefore confidentiality is guaranteed
  5. The decision of the arbitrator is binding (just like a court order) which gives both parties certainty
  6. The process is flexible and the parties can effectively decide upon the speed at which their case progresses
  7. You can choose where the arbitration will be heard. This can be at the arbitrator’s office or at a solicitor’s office. It offers a more relaxed experience for all parties
  8. In the long term, an early decision to arbitrate will enable both parties to avoid protracted and expensive court-based litigation
  9. If you both decide that an issue can be decided purely on paper, an arbitrator can consider the issue in hand and provide the award or determination in writing without seeing either of you in person
  10. You will receive the written award or determination from the arbitrator within 28 days, but often sooner. It is not uncommon to wait several weeks or sometimes months for a court to hand down judgment if it is not given on the day of the hearing itself.

It is also worth noting that you can apply to the court for an order to be made in the same or similar terms to the adjudicator’s award or determination, although this is not necessary.

What are the disadvantages?

As with all processes, what is considered an advantage by one person, may be a disadvantage to another.  A key point to note is that because the decision is binding, there are limited grounds to appeal an award or determination if you are unhappy.

What about the costs of the process?

Arbitration is usually less costly than court litigation, but this does depend on certain variables such as the fees of the arbitrator, or arbitrators, and whether you represent yourself or attend with legal counsel.

It is normal to share the fees of the arbitrator equally, although the arbitrator does have some discretion to order one party to pay more if their conduct during the process has been extremely unreasonable.

Is it for you?

In uncertain times, it is well worth exploring the benefits that arbitration has to offer, particularly when a court-based approach can be littered with delay.  Delay can increase legal costs and personal anxiety, which is unhealthy for anyone coping with family breakdown or trauma.

Legal Advice

We have highlighted arbitration as an effective alternative for those who would otherwise go to Court, but there are other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options available.  If you wish to explore whether arbitration, or another method of ADR, may be helpful in your case please get in touch with us at Allard Bailey Family Law.

To book a virtual consultation or telephone appointment with one of our team, please call 020 7993 2936 or complete the Contact Form on this page.

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What happens to my estate if I do not update my Will before my divorce is finalised?

If you have a Will naming your spouse as a beneficiary, it will remain valid until your divorce is finalised with a Decree Absolute.  This may only take a few months, but it can also take years.  Should anything happen to you in the interim, your estate will be administered according to your Will.

It is common for spouses to be an executor as well as the main beneficiary of each other’s Wills.  If you do not want them to be in charge of your estate should anything happen to you, you should update your Will as soon as possible.

Does my divorce or dissolution invalidate my existing Will?

No, it does not.  If you do not update your Will after your relationship has legally ended, any gifts to your ex-spouse will fail, but there may be other unwanted consequences.  The assets in your Will originally intended to pass to your ex-spouse may be governed by intestacy rules, which could conflict with how you would have wished them to be distributed.

If your ex-spouse was the named executor of your estate, this may mean that you are left without an executor and left to the law to decide who will be responsible for your assets.

What happens if I do not have a Will?

In UK, if you do not have a Will your spouse or civil partner is one of your (or possibly your sole) legal heirs and would remain so until your relationship has legally ended.  Even if you have separated with a court order, they will remain an heir until your relationship has legally ended

What does this mean for my Beneficiaries?

In all these situations, your ex-partner could benefit from your estate and it would fall to your intended beneficiaries to challenge this at a time when they should be allowed to grieve.

We would therefore strongly recommend that you review your Will as soon as it is clear your relationship is ending.  You can update it as often as you want or need to reflect your wishes.

For an initial discussion about your situation, please call 020 7993 2936.

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Depending on the couple’s circumstances, the child’s other intended parent may find herself in a more complicated limbo in terms of legal status.  We consider some of the possibilities below.

Married and Civil-Partnered Couples

If you are married or in a civil partnership and conceived a child after 6 April 2009 through artificial insemination at a UK registered clinic, the non-birth mother will become the second legal parent.  This is quite straight forward and means that even if you are not biologically related to the child you will be a legal parent and assume parental responsibility. To avoid any future confusion, you should make sure that you both sign the child’s birth certificate.

If the child was conceived through sexual intercourse or through artificial insemination that did not take place at a UK registered clinic, the biological father will become the child’s second legal parent.  In this situation, you can still become the child’s legal parent and the preferred route is usually through adoption.  When you adopt the child the parental rights of the father, who was not intended to be a parent, will be immediately extinguished and transferred to you.

Unmarried Couples

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, you will not gain any automatic rights or responsibilities for your partner’s birth child, but it is still possible for your role to be recognised in law.

Adoption is usually the preferred route.  If you are unable to adopt the child, you can still obtain legal parental responsibility by entering into a parental agreement with the other people who have parental responsibility.  This is relatively simple but does require all parties with parental responsibility to give consent.

You could also apply for a child arrangements order, but you need to have been living with the child for a period of three years or have the consent of everyone who already has parental responsibility before you can apply.  If you do not have consent, but meet certain other criteria, you can ask the Court for permission to apply.

Do we both need to have Parental Responsibility?

Although it is not a requirement, it is advisable for both of the child’s intended mothers to gain parental responsibility.  Parental Responsibility is legally defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and the child’s property.”  It includes the responsibility of providing for and protecting the child.

Only the mother with parental responsibility will have the legal right to make important decisions in the child’s life, including agreeing medical treatment and choosing their school.  This might not seem like a big issue as you can still make joint decisions, but it can create day-to-day issues.  For example, if the mother without parental responsibility needs to take the child to hospital, she will not be able to authorise treatment.

You should also be aware that if something happens to the mother with parental responsibility, a child will not automatically stay with her spouse or partner.  It will fall to the authorities to decide on an appropriate caregiver and this can leave children vulnerable at a time when they most need certainty in their lives.  There can also be difficulties with your child’s inheritance as your parental role will not be recognised by the Courts.  Our blog on The Importance of Wills in Safeguarding Your Child’s Future explains more about the steps you can take to ensure your child is protected in the period before you both have parental responsibility.

LEGAL ADVICE

If you would like legal advice on the most suitable way of gaining parental responsibility for a child, or creating a pre-conception agreement with a known sperm donor, please call contact us on 020 7993 2936 to request a consultation with one of our team.

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What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child for another person, or couple, who will become the legal parent(s) of the child.  There are two main types of surrogacy available to gay couples in UK:

  • “Traditional Surrogacy”when the surrogate’s own eggs are used with the sperm of one of the commissioning / intended Dads.
  • “Gestational Surrogacy”when donor eggs are used and the surrogate is unrelated to the child.

Surrogacy is becoming popular amongst gay couples as it enables one father to be biologically related to the child.

Will we be our child’s legal parents?
In UK, it is only possible for one of you to be recognised as a legal parent on birth.  This is because a child can only have two legal parents at one time and the birth mother will initially be recognised as one of those parents, even if she is acting as a surrogate with donor eggs.

If you are biologically related to the child your name can be put on the birth certificate as the child’s other parent, assuming your surrogate is not married or in a civil partnership.  If your surrogate has a legally recognised spouse, that spouse will initially be child’s other legal parent, even if they do not have a genetic link to the child.  In this situation the biological father will need to apply for a Parental Order to extinguish the legal status of the spouse and transfer it to himself.

Where does this leave the intended father without a biological connection?
The child’s other intended father will usually make an application for a Parental Order in conjunction with the biological father.  This will extinguish the status of the surrogate birth mother leaving the intended fathers as the two people with parental responsibility.  The application must be made within 6 months of the child being born but cannot be made less than 6 weeks after the birth.  If a Parental Order is granted, then parental responsibility will be transferred to the intended parents and a new birth certificate can be issued with both father’s names on it. It is advisable to make the application as soon as possible as your child, who would usually be in your custody from birth, will be in a legal limbo until you have parental responsibility.

What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is legally defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and the child’s property.”  It includes the responsibility of providing for and protecting the child.

Only people with Parental Responsibility can legally make important decisions in their child’s life, such as which school the child attends and authorising medical treatment.

Do we both need to have Parental Responsibility?
Although it might not seem like a big issue as you can still make joint decisions, it is advisable for both of the child’s intended parents to gain parental responsibility or you may encounter day-to-day issues.  For example, if the father without parental responsibility needs to take the child to hospital on his own, he will not be able to authorise emergency treatment.

If something happens to the father with parental responsibility and the parental responsibility of the surrogate mother has not been extinguished, she will be legally responsible for the child.  This can leave the child vulnerable at a time when they most need certainty in their life.

If you do not have valid Wills, there can also be issues with inheritance as your parental role will not be recognised by the Courts and the surrogate mother could become a Trustee of the child’s inheritance by default. Our blog on The Importance of Wills in Safeguarding Your Child’s Future explains more.

What if our child is born abroad?
Due to restrictive regulations, including the prevention of advertising and commercial gain in surrogacy in UK, it is common to use a surrogate based overseas.  Popular countries include USA and Canada where commercial surrogacy is legal and parental responsibility can be transferred at birth.  In this situation you may need to gain parental responsibility in both the country of birth and in UK, so it is advisable to seek legal advice in both jurisdictions before any attempt to conceive.

As UK law stands, unless you obtain a Parental Order in UK, the surrogate and her legal partner (if relevant) will still be recognised as your child’s parents in UK, regardless of your status in the birth country.

LEGAL ADVICE
If you would like legal advice on any stage of the surrogacy process including gaining parental responsibility for your child or surrogacy disputes, you can contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936 or make an enquiry through our online system.

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Myth: You have to be a ‘traditional’ family unit to adopt
Anyone over the age of 21 can be considered as an adopter. You can be single, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner.  The stability and permanency of any relationship you are in is the only concern. The main criteria for all local authorities is simply that you are able to provide a stable and loving home.

Myth: You cannot adopt if you are older than 40
There is no upper age limit, but you will need to have the health and energy to see your children through to an age that they could reasonably become independent.

Myth: You have to adopt through your local authority
You can and should “shop around” for the organisation that you feel most comfortable with. We recommend that you do your research and speak to a number of organisations before making a decision. You will need to be really open about your life, so it helps to have a good relationship with the team that is supporting you. You can find a list of agencies on First4Adoption, which is run by the government, or the charity Adoption UK website.

Myth: The social worker is against you
You will be assigned a social worker to prepare and assess you for the task ahead. The social worker is on your side. They want to find adopters. They will need to speak to you about some very personal matters including your finances, who you are as individuals, what your interests are and your past relationships. Some people view this with suspicion. Be assured that they are not trying to trip you up, they need to know you properly to prepare you properly, so try to embrace this process and be honest. Remember, it is the social worker who will represent you at the Adoption Panel, to do this well they need to know you well.

Myth: You need to be perfect
Nobody expects you to be perfect, very few people are, so be honest. Your skeletons will come out of the closet but, unless you have been convicted of certain serious criminal offences, it is unlikely that they will sabotage you.  The key is to be completely honest.

Fact: You need to be resilient
Adoption is a life-long journey filled with emotion, so resilience is key. One of the things the social worker will be most interested in is how you work through your problems and how you will make your family resilient.

Fact: The Adoption Panel is unlikely to turn you down
It is natural to feel nervous before your Adoption Panel meeting, but if you have got to this stage the chances of getting turned down are low. Remember you have the support of the social worker, they would have told you by now if they did not think you were ready to adopt. If you are turned down, it is not the end of the road as you can appeal, or you could apply again at a later date.

Fact: You will get matched quicker with priority children
The majority of people want to adopt a “healthy baby”, but there are relatively few babies waiting for adoption. Most adopted children will come to their families as toddlers, pre-schoolers or primary children. Older children, those with additional needs, groups of brothers and sisters who need to stay together and children from minority backgrounds are considered to be priority children as they will usually wait longer to find a permanent home. These children have often experienced violence, abuse or neglect and are in great need of a loving and supportive home.

Fact: You are in control
When you are matched with a child, or children, it is important to remember that you do not have to say yes. It is ok to say no. If you have doubts you are having them for a reason, so share them with your social worker. It is not always an easy decision, but in the long run it can be better to wait for another match than to move forward if it does not feel right.

Fact: You will receive ongoing support
Adoption is a challenging journey, arguably more challenging than biological parenthood. Although your love can help a child to heal, it cannot erase the scars of their past. They may struggle and you may struggle, it is completely natural. You will not be expected to go it alone, you will have access to ongoing specialist support.

Fact: You will change more than one life
A charity leader was quoted as saying that adopted children are among the most “complex and vulnerable in society” and that “adoption can have a transformative effect on these children.”  This is because children do better when they feel safe and loved. With adoption, it is not just the children’s lives that are transformed. In exchange for the gifts of love and stability, you receive the life-changing gift of parenthood.

If you are considering Adoption and would like more information on the legal aspects of the process, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey.

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What does this mean for you?

You must have consent from anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child (usually both parents) before taking them outside of England and Wales. This usually means that the child’s other parent will need to provide a letter of consent, which contains their contact details so that its authenticity can be checked.

If your child lives with you and that is recorded in a Child Arrangements Order, you can usually take them overseas for up to 28 days without permission. In which case, you will need to take a sealed copy of any relevant Court Orders and we recommend that you check with your Solicitor if you need to do anything else, such as having the documents verified.

If you do not have the same surname as your child, you may be asked to prove your relationship to them. We advise taking extra documentation such as a copy of their birth certificate, adoption certificate or your parental order, as well as any relevant divorce or marriage certificates.

What else should you do?

It is a good idea to contact the airline you are travelling with, as well as the embassy for the country you are travelling to, to see if they have any other requirements.

Some countries, such as USA and South Africa, have very strict requirements and although you may have the documents you need to leave the UK, you may not have everything you need to gain entry on arrival.

You can find the contact details for all foreign embassies and High Commissions in UK here.

For further advice on travelling alone with children, or if your child has been taken overseas without your consent, call us on 020 7993 2936 or click here.

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It is still a welcome development.

People have been campaigning for years for a variation to UK surrogacy law as it was seen to be discriminatory to single parents. The change was finally approved in December 2018 and came into force on 3 January 2019.

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At Allard Bailey, we recognise that adoption and surrogacy are not just legal processes but deeply personal journeys, often following exhaustive conception attempts, or failed IVF. Our specialist solicitors can sensitively guide and advise you on the right legal framework to achieve the rights to protect you and your child. We appreciate that more than ever, in the run up to Christmas and New Year thoughts inevitably turn to family life and plans and hopes for the future.

In the words of Lady Justice King (as was) there are “serious legal and practical difficulties which can arise where men or women, desperate for a child of their own, enter into informal surrogacy arrangements, often in the absence of any counselling or any specialist legal advice.”

If you or anyone you know are considering adoption or surrogacy or you are an intended parent it is critical to get early advice, and here are some reasons why:

• To apply for an adoption order or a parental order: Both orders have “transformative effect” including extinguishing a surrogate parent’s rights.

• To be aware of the timeframe: The law requires an application for a parental order in a surrogacy arrangement to be made within 6 months of a child’s birth and UK domicile. We can guide you on some of the permitted extensions under the case law.

• If you’re single*: As it stands, a single person cannot make an application for a parental order. Whilst this has been declared to be incompatible with human rights in the case of Z (A Child) (No 2) [2016], this is the current position and until this is reviewed we can advise you on alternative applications. (*update: the law changed on 3rd January 2019 and single people can now access Parental Orders in UK)

For a no obligation discussion, call us now on (+44)020 7993 2936 or email us at info@allardbailey.com

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