DO YOU KNOW YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS?

Red confused manWe’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from the main political parties in the UK about curbing immigration from outside the EU. There is talk of a crack-down on illegal immigration – commonly known as “Overstaying”.
What then are the options for people in this dilemma?
Firstly, there are funds and practical assistance available for those who have overstayed their permission to be here but who wish to return to their country of origin voluntarily.
However, many people may not be in a position to take up this option due to their personal circumstances and they may well have a human rights claim to be here. Despite the climate in the UK the government must fulfil its human rights obligations when making immigration decisions.
In this regard, the government has set out certain situations whereby it is more likely to grant someone permission to remain in the UK based on their private or family life. Such as if a person has a British or European child who lives in the UK; if the child is not British or European but has lived here for at least seven years; if the person is married to a British or European citizen or in a significant relationship with such a person. Single people who have no children, may be able to get permission to stay depending on the length of time spent here.
So we can see there are options available for those wishing to be proactive in regularising their immigration status.
For advice specific to your case, contact Rachel Okello for your free initial telephone consultation on 0121 448 9255 or 07895327049.
Rachel Okello is a Solicitor who specialises in Immigration, Family & Human Rights law. She believes strongly in the right to family & private life for all. She accepts instructions nationally & internationally.

Immigration law achieves equality – at last

CofAIt has been an elephant in the room.

The law that a child born in the United Kingdom could be deported from his birthplace simply because the parents were not married.

If the Immigration Act 2014 is to be considered harsh, it has definitely revealed a soft spot in repealing the law that a child born in the United Kingdom before 2006 could only obtain British citizenship through a British mother if the parents were not married.

Prior to 2006 a child could only obtain British citizenship through his British father if the parents were married.

The law changed on 1 July 2006 and children born in the United Kingdom after this date could obtain British citizenship through either British parent – even if they were not married.  The problem being that the law was not retrospective so children of British fathers faced deportation along with their foreign national mothers.

The new law is set to come into force on 6 April 2015.  This means that many children who may already have been removed from the United Kingdom should be reviewing their UK immigration status.

Watch this space to see how this all unfolds in the coming months..

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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Are you at threat of Deportation?

If you have received a Deportation Order from the Home Office it can be an extremely worrying time. A Deportation Order is served on a foreign national (ie not British) if they have committed a criminal offence and have been given a prison sentence of at least 12 months. Clearly, you would have done something wrong to have landed in prison but if you have been in the UK for a long time then it can be extremely troubling to know that when you are released you will be put on a plane to a country that you may longer have any connection with.

The rules around deportation are very strict and extremely difficult to get around.  At some point during your prison sentence the Home Office will actively start to set the deportation in motion.  It is considered to be very much in the public interest to remove foreign criminals from the UK.  You can imagine that the public would consider that it is right to remove a foreign national who has committed one or more criminal offences in the UK as a way of fighting crime.

Along with a Deportation Order comes an opportunity to appeal to court. However, we see in most cases that there is little sympathy from the judges with a foreign national who comes before them having committed a criminal offence which is so serious that it has landed them in prison for over a year.

So what will happen going forward? The first thing to be aware of is that the Home Office will not necessarily wait until the end of your sentence to start deportation proceedings or to arrange for the actual flight to remove you from the UK. Therefore, if you are a foreign national and find yourself in prison for longer than one year you should immediately seek legal advice on your options if you hope to stay in the UK.

So what are your options?

1. Firstly you will need to know how you will fund your case. With legal aid having been cut for more and more cases, you will need to check whether you are eligible to free legal representation as deportation proceedings can be extremely costly and is in fact money down the drain if you are not successful.

 

2. A much less attractive option is for you to throw in the towel and make arrangements to return to your country of origin or to another country that will accept you. For those who do agree to leave voluntarily but do not have the means, it is useful to know that the International Organisation for Migration runs an Assisted Voluntary Returns & Reintegration Programme for detainees under threat of deportation. This means, that if your country of origin is part of the scheme you will get financial and practical support to return home.

 

3. Alternatively, you can go through the appeals process either by representing yourself or instructing a specialist Immigration Solicitor. You will have to convince the court that there is a real & compelling reason that you should not be forced to leave the United Kingdom even though you have been to prison for over one year. This is a very time-sensitive period so if the court does decide against you there will be a very short period to put in a further appeal or review.  Once you become what is referred to as “appeals rights exhausted” the Home Office will provide you with details of the flight and actively enforce your removal – so don’t lose your case just because you missed a deadline.

 

4. If you do receive confirmation that the flight has been booked then the only way to stop this will be to apply to the court on an emergency basis for an injunction. If an injunction is granted then you will have to act quickly and notify the Home Office, especially at the airport that you have an injunction against deportation. If an injunction is not granted then it is highly likely that the deportation will take place.

 

5. If the court does not grant an injunction you can make a last ditched attempt to ask the Home Office to cancel the Deportation Order – but to be honest , that’s not likely to happen.  If you want to contest this further you may find that your only option is to do so after arrival at your country of origin.

question

Is there any hope?

Honestly? You need to think long and hard about whether to fight a Deportation Order.  The legal costs can be prohibitive and if you go via the judicial review route you may be lumbered not only with your own legal costs but also that of the Home Office if your application is not successful.

 

An application to oppose a Deportation Order will only succeed based on human rights grounds.  In particular, the court will be looking to ascertain whether your family life in the UK is so significant that you should be allowed to stay in the country.  This is extremely difficult to prove – particularly if you have spent many years detained in prison. Years in prison do not count towards the years you have lived in the UK.  Also, it is virtually impossible to have a family life with your children or your partner when you have spent the last few years in prison.  So you can see that it would be very difficult to convince the Home Office and indeed the courts that you should be allowed to stay in the UK to continue your family life.

 

The court will also consider any humanitarian or asylum claims that you put forward.  But remember, here independent evidence really is key as the question will be asked as to why this was not raised earlier, if you only wait until the very end of the process to raise an asylum claim.  The Home Office or the court will not believe something is so just because you say so.  If you do consider that you have a real fear for your life or safety if you are returned to your country of origin then you should raise this at the earliest opportunity with convincing evidence.

 

Any case you put forward to prevent a deportation, must be extremely strong and utterly convincing if you are to have any chance of success.

SunnyplaneOutside of all this a final option – non-legal as it is – could be to run an “airline campaign”.  In this situation your supporters would highlight your case to the airline and ask the airline to refuse to carry you – thus making your physical removal an impossibility.

However, if it does get to the point that you are taken to the airport you are likely to be escorted by enforcement officers with instructions to ensure your physical removal from the UK.

If this happens, please put your personal safety first and do not physically fight againt your removal as this could result in serious injury to you.  You will need to be mindful that an application can be made from outside of the UK for your return.

 

So there we have it.  Remember, committing a criminal offence in a country where you are not a citizen can have damning consequences.  Not just because of the impact it would have on any person who has committed a criminal offence, but also because of the consequences of being removed from the UK – possibly indefinitely.  If you are deported then a ban is applied against you returning to the UK, which is only overturned in exceptional circumstances.

 

If you are affected by anything in this article then you need to take immediate action – delay is the enemy of success.

 

 

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to UK immigration & family law.  In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

New Immigration law will lead to destitution & homelessness

After much campaigning and opposition the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and has therefore become part of UK immigration law.  It is known as the Immigration Act 2014.  With this Immigration Act the UK government has, in my view, imposed the largest onslaught against immigration and immigrants in modern UK history.  Penalties involving immigration offences have now been widened to include landlords who must now confirm prospective tenants’ immigration status.  This is perhaps the most detrimental aspect of this new law.  As a solicitor specialising in immigration law, I know that some degree of skill and knowledge is required to ascertain what type of visa a migrant has and particularly if they have permission to be in the country.

Permission to be in the UK is very fluid and a person’s immigration status can change overnight.  So one minute a person is the subject of removal directions and the next they obtain a visa granting permission to stay in the UK.  It is going to be impossible for a landlord to establish a person’s immigration status and the likely result is that the landlord would opt to refuse to rent the property for fear of being on the wrong side of the law.

One terrible effect of this will be that families with a legitimate reason to be in the UK will be denied housing and they are certainly unlikely to be successful in obtaining social housing.  New government rules will compel local authorities to take account of the length of time someone has lived in an area and strength of local connections during the housing allocations process.  So newly arrived migrants will be denied social housing which is a deliberate act of the UK government.

Another unwanted outcome will be that rogue landlords will undoubtedly extort large amounts of money from families unable to proof their immigration status but desperate to secure accommodation.  Also vulnerable tenants may be left without recourse to assistance in cases of housing disrepair for fear of being reported to immigration by landlords.  It is likely that landlords will increase the rent for foreign migrants as a form of premium to compensate against any financial liability they attract under immigration law. Landlords who circumvent their duties under the Immigration Act will be liable to a large fine for each illegal migrant at the property.

All in all, these new requirements will mean that many families will be left out in the cold and homeless.

Other important changes to come out of the Immigration Act 2014 are:

  • To reduce the number of immigration decisions that people can appeal from 17 to 4.
  • That people can be removed from the UK even though they have an ongoing appeal.
  • The right to stay in the UK because of your right to a family life is no longer an absolute right.
  • Making temporary migrants pay a financial contribution towards the NHS.

All in all the UK is going to become a very difficult society for all – and not just for immigrants.

 

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Immigration Ruling will Bring Heartache to Many Families

scalesThe long-awaited Court of Appeal decision regarding the Home Office policy of applying a minimum income threshold to spousal visa applications has come in.  The Court has decided that the rule although discriminatory is not unlawful.  The Court essentially took into account that the intention of the Home Office was to reduce the possibility of applicants depending on the UK benefits system.  The Court found the objective of the Secretary of State to be legitimate and therefore the rule was found not to be unlawful.

The case initially came to the Court of Appeal because in 2013 the lower High Court held that the financial threshold rule was a disproportionate breach of families’ rights granted under article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  The Secretary of State referred the case to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal decision will have a disastrous impact on families who are not able to reach this financial threshold.  The rule requires earnings of £18,600 to apply for a spousal visa.  If a couple has one child then this threshold increases to £22,400 with a further £2,400 for each additional child.  So a typical family of 2 children will need to be earning £24,800.  Someone on the minimum wage working full time will earn just over £12,000 a year – so we can see the difficulty many families will have right there.

The Home Office previously had up to an estimated £4,500 cases on hold whilst awaiting this Court of Appeal decision.

So what is the solution for families who will not meet this threshold? Well the answer is in the reasoning given by the Court.  It can be a good or bad thing that the UK is trying to make immigration applications a “tick box” exercise – so you either meet the requirements or you don’t.  This approach pervades all areas of immigration law so it is much easier to know whether you should make an application within the rules or ask the Home Office to exercise its discretion.  In cases where the minimum income threshold is not met, it will be for applicants to show that in their particular circumstances it is unreasonable to suggest they will be dependent on benefits.  It will not be an easy application but with the court granting legitimacy to the Home Office rule due to the reliance on benefits, that appears to be the only way of getting around it.

So we anticipate much heartache and backlog as the battle between the government and its people continues.

New Immigration law will Lead to Homelessness & Destitution

courticonAfter much campaigning and opposition the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and has therefore become part of UK immigration law.  It is known as the Immigration Act 2014.  With this Immigration Act the UK government has, in my view, imposed the largest onslaught against immigration and immigrants in modern UK history.  Penalties involving immigration offences have now been widened to include landlords who must now confirm prospective tenants’ immigration status.  This is perhaps the most detrimental aspect of this new law.  As a solicitor specialising in immigration law, I know that some degree of skill and knowledge is required to ascertain what type of visa a migrant has and particularly if they have permission to be in the country.

Permission to be in the UK is very fluid and a person’s immigration status can change overnight.  So one minute a person is the subject of removal directions and the next they obtain a visa granting permission to stay in the UK.  It is going to be impossible for a landlord to establish a person’s immigration status and the likely result is that the landlord would opt to refuse to rent the property for fear of being on the wrong side of the law.

One terrible effect of this will be that families with a legitimate reason to be in the UK will be denied private housing and they are certainly unlikely to be successful in obtaining social housing.  New government rules will compel local authorities to take account of the length of time someone has lived in an area and strength of local connections during the housing allocations process.  So newly arrived migrants will be denied social housing which is a deliberate act of the UK government.

house rentalAnother unwanted outcome will be that rogue landlords will undoubtedly extort large amounts of money from families unable to proof their immigration status but desperate to secure accommodation.  Also vulnerable tenants may be left without recourse to assistance in cases of housing disrepair for fear of being reported to immigration by landlords.  It is likely that landlords will increase the rent for foreign migrants as a form of premium to compensate against any financial liability they attract under immigration law. Landlords who circumvent their duties under the Immigration Act will be liable to a large fine for each illegal migrant at the property.

All in all, these new requirements will mean that many families will be left out in the cold and homeless.

Other important changes to come out of the Immigration Act 2014 are:

  • To reduce the number of immigration decisions that people can appeal from 17 decisions to 4.
  • That people can be removed from the UK to await the decision of an ongoing appeal from abroad.
  • The right to stay in the UK because of your right to a family life is no longer an absolute right.
  • Making temporary migrants pay a financial contribution towards the NHS.

All in all the UK is going to become a very difficult society to live in for all – and not just for immigrants.

 

 

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

“Sending” for your child – UK visas

As a person of African Caribbean descent I am well aware of the fact that many parents, particularly mothers, leave their child in their home country and come to build a life in the UK.  It can seem astonishing to many that a parent would leave their child for years on end and re-establish herself on the other side of the world.

lonely childHowever, this should not be seen as an act of abandonment but it should be seen for what it is – a desperate act of survival.  In the ideal world a family would consist of mother, father and children happily living in the same household, parents paying all the bills easily and having all the time in the world to attend to school activities and homework.  Well this is the real world and for many reasons, some of them historic, many families in the so called developing world do not live this type of lifestyle.

So, especially in single mother households, the decision is made to leave the child with a member of the extended family and to move abroad.  Money and essential items are regularly sent home and ultimately the life of the child left behind is materially better than it would have been had mother not made the decision to relocate.  Unfortunately, many people, for a variety of reasons, enter the UK on the basis of other reasons rather than applying for a work permit.

So this situation continues on year in year out.  Then…just before the child becomes an 18 year old adult there is a massive craving by the mother that the child should be brought to the UK to live permanently with the mother before adulthood.  Well, to this I would say…you may have left it too late.

One of the main reasons that it may be too late is purely administrative.  It is important to remember that when applying to bring a child to the UK you should note that the child must be under 18 years old at the time of the Home Office decision.  By waiting until your child is say 17 years old does not leave much time to deal with any refusal / objections raised by the Entry Clearance Officer (the immigration officer abroad who makes the decision).  You may need time to provide further evidence, to request a reconsideration of the decision, to pursue an appeal or a judicial review.

This area of UK Immigration law relies heavily on human rights and on the human condition.  So if you have left your child back home when s/he were say 3 years old, that child is now 15 years old and you are only now sending for him, you can see the dilemma for the Entry Clearance Officer.  A principal question that an Entry Clearance Officer must answer is – Do you have sole parental responsibility for your child.  The answer to this question will be apparent by the facts, such as:

1)      Where is your child’s other biological parent – if this is not a joint application?

2)      Who has been looking after your child for all the years that you have been away? And why can’t this person continue to look after your child?

3)      Who has been making key decisions in your child’s life regarding for example, education and healthcare?

4)      Who has been supporting your child financially?

5)      Have you visited your child since you have been in the UK? How often? And if not, why not?

6)      What will happen to your child if s/he is not given a visa to join you in the UK?

7)      Will you be able to support your child here without needing benefits?

These are crucial questions that must be answered to the satisfaction of the Entry Clearance Officer if your application is going to succeed without giving you too much headache.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people think logically that – this is my child and therefore s/he should be able to join me in the UK.  Unfortunately, gone are the days when it was just a simple case of “sending for your child” to join you.  The UK Immigration rules are a lot more complicated than they were for the first immigrants who came to the UK in the 50s and 60s.  The needs of the UK have changed since then and it no longer seen as being of no great benefit to have another wave of Caribbean immigrants entering the UK.  Therefore, you must show that your application is based on solid human rights grounds – essentially as in the right to a family life in your specific circumstances.

Your application should be full of independent evidence to support your case.  The Entry Clearance Officer is not going to believe your situation just because you say so.  In my view it is right for UK immigration to insist that every case is supported with strong evidence and if your case is genuine you should have no problem gathering this evidence.  Of course, realistically, it is difficult to get letters and statements from abroad but you should do your upmost to get this – it will serve you better in the long run – especially if you have to appeal an Entry Clearance Officer decision at court.

There real message here is that taking all factors into consideration it is probably best for you to apply for your child to join you in the UK at the earliest possible chance – and I suspect that’s what you want as well.

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

UK Border Checks – Do you know your rights?

british flagmapDOWNLOAD YOUR FREE FACT SHEET BELOW

We have all noticed that immigration is being used as a scapegoat by the Coalition government and other groups to justify the state of today’s UK economy.  Not since the arrival of the “first generation” immigrants in the 1960s has there been such acceptance of a xenophobic atmosphere throughout society – and even among certain sectors of ethnic minority communities also!

UK Border Agency raids and spot checks are being carried out in public places by the Border Agency acting alone or with other agencies, typically the police.  Many people (legally in the UK or not) are left feeling vulnerable and disillusioned – this cannot go on. In conjunction with BARAC Birmingham I will be carrying out a series of immigration seminars around the West Midlands to empower people about their rights as an immigrant (legal or not) whilst in the UK.  Along with this I have created a fact sheet for free distribution – please download this from the link below and feel free to circulate among your family, friends, neighbours and networks. UK Immigration – BORDER CHECKS – Do you know your rights?

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following: Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Schools back – Children disputes

back-to-schoolWith the return of the new academic year many children will start school with parents who are still at loggerheads over a recent separation.

At this time it is so important for the parents to commit to working together so that the child’s school year starts smoothly.  However, this won’t always be possible and for the non-resident parent it can be so difficult to exercise your parental rights.

Here are 5 tips that you may find useful in ensuring that you are fully engaged in your child’s education.

1) Your child’s school should always be told if there is some upheaval in the child’s family life.  Try to have a discreet word with your child’s teacher about the change in circumstances.

2) Check whether you have parental responsibility for your child.  If you do, provide evidence of this to the headteacher and ask that all teachers who come into contact with your child are aware that you have parental responsibility.  If not then seek legal advice on how to get parental responsibility.

3) Make sure that the school has your up to date contact details.  Many schools use  a text messaging service.  Ask if your child’s school uses this and make sure they have your mobile number – this way letters to you won’t get “lost in the post”.

4) Continue (or start!) to help your child with homework and extra curricular activities.  Many children often complain of boredom when visiting the non-resident parent.  Try to make your child’s life carry on as usual even when they are with you.  Remember, when your child is with you, you need to be mum and dad.

and finally..

5) Be empowered …Have confidence in your new role as a single parent.  Children often sense when parents are unsure (I know mine can).  Let your child know (or belief) that you are in control and you know exactly how to be mum and dad – at the same time.

Good Luck!

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Don’t Forget the Kids

broken homeAs a Solicitor with many years of practice in children disputes I would say that most cases that end up in court contesting access to children arise because of a little known concept of parental alienation.

I would go as far as to say that very many Solicitors who deal with this area of law are not even aware of this concept.  This may, or may not, be the reason why non resident parents receive a letter declaring that the children no longer wish to see their parent.  What is behind this?  Could it all be the fault of the resident parent, effectively poisoning the child against their parent.  I don’t think so.

How many times, during court proceedings, do we hear resident parents saying that the other parent has made no effort with the children when we clearly in the middle of court proceedings.  Court proceedings by its very nature are a clear indication that the non resident parent is intent on making an effort in the children’s life.  So why does the resident parent become so opposed to contact taking place between the children and their parent.

I have come to believe that following the breakdown of a relationship both parents often take a casual approach to resolving issues around the children.  This means that decisions around maintaining the children financially and sharing time with the children are never really discussed.  This leads to a lot of confusion later on.

My advice would be that parents faced with separation should take a robust approach to resolving issues around children.  Just before you storm up in an upset state, stop take a deep breath, sit down explain that you will be leaving and won’t be coming back and then spend some time deciding what is going to happen about the children.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Equally, if you return home to find that your spouse has left taking the children, don’t let the dust settle before trying to solve issues around the children.  For a parent who became used to having a helping hand with the kids during the relationship, the reality of looking after the children alone can often be an unexpected shock.  So the days you take moping around licking your wounds are the same crucial days that the resident parent uses to adjust to their new single parent life.  By the time you get around to visiting your children, you may find that you are “surplus to requirements”.

Once the damage is done, it can be very difficult to undo.  By dealing with things sooner rather than later, you may be able to avoid a long drawn out dispute about the rights of you as a parent and the children to have a substantially relationship with each other.

 

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos