Family & Matrimonial Law
It takes years of training and experience to handle sensitive personal problems. Let us help you.
Divorce & Separation
When a marriage or relationship ends, it is likely to be very upsetting and emotional. We’re able to offer advice and support throughout this stressful time. We can advise on the grounds for divorce and all of the relevant steps and processes to go through including;
- Drafting or receiving a divorce petition
- Acknowledgement of service
- Certificate of entitlement
- Decree nisi
- Decree absolute
- Costs awards
- Financial Arrangement & Agreements
- Child Maintenance
Whether it’s a straight-forward divorce following a short marriage, or a heavily contested one with complex children matters to consider, we’ve got all the experience necessary to make sure we get the best outcome for you.
It is also very important to consider your Will. You may need an interim will whilst separated and in the process of divorce, and will almost certainly need a new will after your divorce is completed. We can assist you with this.
You may be eligible for Legal Aid based on your circumstances and income.
When couples separate there are often financial issues to be resolved that we can assist with. Quite often, it’s arguing over the money that causes the most animosity between parties. There may be concerns over the matrimonial assets and how these will be divided, for example;
- Ownership and occupation of the family home
- Division of pensions
- Division of assets either jointly owned or in the parties’ sole names
- Ongoing financial support, for either a spouse or children.
We’ve dealt with some of the most financially complex divorces in the area, including business assets, overseas assets and individuals.
We are able to provide support in coming to a resolution in the following ways:
- Negotiating directly with your spouse, or with solicitors instructed by them
- Advising and supporting you through the meditation process
- Should it prove necessary, providing representation at court.
- Drafting financial agreements in the form of a consent order
- Enforcing financial agreements.
Throughout the process we will work with you to arrive at the most cost effective and amicable resolution for you.
The end of a relationship is always a difficult time. We can advise fully on the ending of a civil partnership. We will support you through this difficult time and help with issues including:
- Dissolution of the civil partnership
- Property disputes
- Financial issues
- Children and parental rights
We are also able to ensure your financial issues are dealt with properly and efficiently at the correct time and that the children are always of a primary concern.
It is also very important to consider your Will. You may need an interim will whilst separated and in the process of a dissolution, and will almost certainly need a new will after your dissolution is completed. We can assist you with this.
When a relationship breaks down, if arrangements for the children are agreed between the parents then no further action needs to be taken. If the parents cannot however agree on the arrangements, you can make an application to the court to determine who the child lives with and how much time they spend with the other parent. The law relating to children can also be used for specific purposes such as:
- Permission to take a child to live in a different country;
- Preventing the other parent from doing something such as relocating with the child- whether that be in this Country or not;
- Deciding on a specific issue such as where the child should go to school for example.
If you are an unmarried father and your name is not on your child’s birth certificate or the child was born before 1st December 2003 you do not automatically have the rights and obligations of a parent to make decisions for that child. This can, however, be changed in a number of ways, including if you have entered into a formal agreement with the child’s mother or by an Order of the Court granting you those rights. Disagreements in relation to children, do not only apply to the parents, but can apply to Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and other family members who are being prevented from having a relationship with the child. We are able to assist in all matters relating to children, including preparing any necessary applications to Court and representing you at any Court hearings.
We can provide services to clients who may be eligible for legal aid. If you believe you may be eligible for legal aid, we’ll assess your financial circumstance and let you know quickly if we can assist you with a legal aid application.
We also provide a full range of children-related advice and assistance to all families and individuals who may not be eligible for any form of public funding. We have a highly experienced team that can act quickly and decisively in this challenging area of the law. Challenging for parents, for their lawyers and also for the Courts. However we have the training and on-the-ground experience to assist with all of the following in the most difficult of circumstances:
- Child Arrangement Orders – who your child will live with and how much time and contact the other parent may have and in which circumstances;
- Specific issue orders – where your child goes to school, or whether they should study certain subjects, such as religious education
- Change of Name – always contentious but a decision of importance;
- Parental Responsibility – Who has legal rights and challenging any restrictions;
- Prohibited Steps Order – preventing a parent from doing something;
We have specialists who can cover all of the areas above. You may not know which category your particular issue falls into – call us – we’ll help to direct you to the right person.
Domestic Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse of one person by another, with whom you have or have had an intimate relationship with.
If your partner or ex-partner is hurting, threatening or harassing you, then you should telephone the police as soon as is practically possible. If the police are unable to help you, then we are able to write a letter to your partner or ex-partner warning them that if their behaviour does not stop you will pursue an application to the Court to prevent their behaviour continuing. In some circumstances it is possible to obtain an Order which not only removes your partner or ex-partner from your home, but from also re-entering and coming within a certain distance of your home.
We can assist you in the following:-
- Preparing and filing the application to the Court.
- Representing you at any Court Hearings.
- Arrange for any Orders to be personally served upon your partner or ex-partner.
If you feel that you are in serious danger and you have been subjected to physical violence, then we are able apply for an Emergency Order to protect you. In these circumstances it is important that you contact us as soon as possible so that we act promptly to protect you via 03300 585 222.
Legal Aid is available, provided you are financially eligible, for us to provide assistance to you with the above.
Co-habitation & Unmarried Couples
The marriage rate in England continues to fall, and the number of cohabiting couples is on the rise. However there is currently no law in England which helps a cohabiting couple if their relationship breaks down. The law doesn’t recognise “common law spouses” as people often think it does, that’s a common myth. Courts have much more limited powers available to them for cohabiting couples than married couples.
Cohabitation agreements will help deal with some of these issues, including:
- Wills and Inheritance
Any advice is essential if unmarried couples are buying a property together. In the event of separation, formal separation agreements can be drafted to cover many of these issues, and protect both parties assets and rights. Unmarried couples with children are protected by the law in the same way that married couples are, providing they have parental responsibility. There is no distinction between them when considering who the child should live with or when and where the other parent will have contact.
Pre- & Post-nuptial Agreements
Prior to getting married, it is sensible to discuss your financial arrangements and consider whether it’s appropriate to consider a pre-nuptial agreement. This will set out how you wish your assets to be dealt with in the event of a future separation or divorce. Pre-nuptial contracts are not automatically enforceable in this country but they are evidence of an agreement in the event that the marriage breaks down. If both parties have disclosed their assets, and circumstances have not substantially changed, then the court can take this agreement into account in the event of a dispute. In circumstances where there are substantial assets or there are children from prior marriages this additional protection may be particularly important. We will help you with drawing this agreement up, and advise you on the contents.
We can advise clients on post-nuptial agreements, whether they are intended to be stand-alone or following a pre-nuptial agreement or a foreign marriage agreement. Some couples choose this form of agreement if they are re-locating to England & Wales to ensure that there is some certainty for them if they end up divorcing in the English Courts. We handle the whole process sensitively and carefully, always bearing in mind the relationship and what the parties wish to achieve. We can help with the negotiations where necessary or we can assist with merely putting into place the agreement you’ve already reached. You can decide how much involvement you would like us to have. As with pre-nuptial agreement, the enforceability is very much linked to full and frank financial disclosure at the beginning, something we’ll ensure that you’re fully aware of.
Where necessary we can also involve our Wills, Inheritance and Probate team, who can bring in tax advisers and specialists if there is any doubt that the agreement you’re seeking to reach could have far-reaching implications on your UK or worldwide tax position.
What is Mediation?
Mediation provides separating couples an opportunity to resolve matters amicably without the stress and cost of court proceedings.
What issues can you deal with in mediation?
The process can assist with a variety of issues arising out of relationship breakdown including;
- Financial issues relating to the family home
- The division of other assets.
- On- going financial support.
- Agreements over your children regarding perhaps whom the children will live, or the amount of time they spend with each of you.
How does it work in practice?
Meetings will be arranged based on your circumstances, so either separate or joint appointments can be made. If an agreement is reached then a “Memorandum of Understanding” is drawn up, for each party. This document isn’t enforceable in court but it will evidence your agreement in the event that there are ongoing problems.
Advantages of mediation
- More cost effective than court proceedings
- Less stressful
- Parties can arrive at their own agreement
- A quicker resolution of difficulties
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