If you are going through a divorce and have children with your partner there are a lot of difficult considerations to make during what is already a complex and emotional time. One way to ensure that you are doing the right thing for your children, in both the short-term and long-term, is to hire experienced family solicitors with the knowledge to help you maintain your estate for your children, and your children’s children, after divorce and after your death.
The Children Act 1989 provides a list of rights, duties, powers and responsibilities, which a parent of a child has. It includes providing a home for the child, protecting and maintaining the child, being responsible for all discipline in relation to the child, dealing with educational matters, being responsible for the child’s health, welfare, finances and property. This is all vitally important for parent and child during the parents lifetime, but what happens should you pass away when your children are still young, and if you have separated from your partner who you had the children with?
Have a Valid and Accurate Will
The first thing you should do if you have a young family is to make a will if you have not done so already. If you already have a will, make sure that it is completely up-to-date with all accurate information present. That way you can ensure that there are provisions in place for any children that you are legally responsible for. If you do not make a will and you die, the law will take control of your estate and make assumptions as to how your estate is to be dealt with. In order to ensure that everything is passed on in the form and the way that you wish, you have to make an accurate and valid will.
If you die without a will and are married or in a civil partnership, the first £250,000 of your estate, and your personal items, will be passed on to your partner. Whether you wanted your children to receive the bulk of your estate or not, they will only receive half of the remainder of the estate outright when they reach the age of 18, and the other half when your spouse passes away.
Divorce and Remarriage
Things can become a little more complicated in looking after your children should you divorce and remarry. It is even more vital to make a will once you remarry in order to protect your children from a previous marriage in terms of your estate and finances. Unless you remake a will upon marrying again, your previous will is invalid and any children that you have from a previous marriage may fail to benefit at all, depending on the size of your estate.
On top of the estate and financial incentives to making an accurate will that reflects your wishes to protect your children and their financial future, it also allows you to appoint a specific guardian to look after your children should anything happen to both parents prior to the children turning 18 years of age.
As with any divorce proceedings where children are involved, it is important to put in place strong processes that ensure your children are looked after once you have passed on.