Divorce and Family Law
Divorce and separation can be difficult for everyone. When children are involved, you have to take important decisions about their future at what is a stressful and emotional time.
Our family law solicitors are highly experienced in helping you make the right legal and financial decisions to result in the best outcome for you and your family. Our expertise extends to cohabitation agreements or disputes, civil partnerships, pre-nuptial agreements, property issues and access to children after separation or divorce.
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Contact us when you need a good divorce solicitor or family law expert. We give straightforward advice and, when you instruct us, we act quickly and decisively to bring things to as rapid a conclusion as possible.
You’ll find us completely open about everything we do for you. We have a range of fixed price services so you won’t receive any unexpected bills and we keep you informed and involved during the entire process.
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At the start of a relationship one of the last things you would want to think of is what would happen if things were to go wrong! Despite this it might well be to your benefit to be practical and consider the options should things not work out. Potentially decreasing the subsequent stress and expense involved.
One possible solution is to enter into a contract before a marriage or civil union. These are generally known as prenuptial, or pre nup, agreements and set out what will happen to the parties goods and property if the marriage were to end. In addition, arrangements for alimony may also be included.
Reasons for taking out a pre nuptial agreement could include: where property or assets could be difficult to divide, where future monies, say from inheritance, could be expected, the protection of assets or business from a previous relationship and so on. Whilst not technically binding in England and Wales, where legal advice has been taken by both sides and financial situations were fully disclosed, the courts are increasingly taking them into account. These agreements need to be written down and not be verbal and can, in fact, also be entered into after marriage – in other words as a post-nuptual agreement. A post nuptial can also act to modify or review an existing pre nuptial agreement.
It is important to get legal advice on pre nuptial agreements as if the correct procedures are not followed the agreement may be judged to be invalid! What’s more, pre nups need to be specific to the individuals involved. Our staff are experienced in ensuring all the correct procedures and legal requirements are followed and that the end agreement will be viewed as having been fairly arrived at.
Separation and divorce can be a difficult and stressful experience for all those involved, made even more difficult if there are children involved and there is no agreement as to the best arrangements for their care and financial welfare. Where there are contested issues Applebys specialist lawyers can help to find resolution and ensure a solution is found and with the best interests of the child involved.
If the parents cannot agree about what happens to their children when their relationship breaks down it may become necessary for a court to become involved. This may result in a court making an order. However, before making an application for an order you may have to demonstrate to the court that you have considered or have undertaken mediation to resolve the issues concerned.
If successful this may allow you to avoid the expense, disruption and delay involved in making an application to the court. If an application is required then the key orders that may be applied for are:
Child Arrangements Order
This order will determine:
With whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person
When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any other person
Specific Issue Order
This will apply where there is a dispute over a specific issue relating to a child and where the parents cannot agree. Any order will only apply to the specific issues being addressed and can include a wide number of things such as schooling, taking a child out of school for an extended holiday, medical treatment, which school a child attends and so on.
Prohibited Steps Order
This determines that certain things cannot be done in respect of the child without the prior permission of the Court. This could include changing the child’s surname or taking the child abroad.
At Applebys our specialist Family Lawyers will take you through all the options and procedures involved in applying for a Court Order and how to proceed to get the best possible outcome for you and your child/children.
If you are an unmarried couple living together then you may be treated differently under the law from married couples. What’s more your claims against your partner will be more limited than if you had been married.
One solution is to have a cohabitation agreement which sets out what would happen to your finances if your relationship were to come to an end. This could include if you own property jointly or if you made a contribution to the property you may be entitled to a share.
A cohabitation agreement can provide peace of mind as to what will happen to your finances should your relationship come to an end.
At Applebys we know that divorce can be both complicated and stressful and the process will not always be straightforward. But whatever your circumstances our experts in this area of law will provide clear, simple to follow advice and a sympathetic ear.
When a married couple decide to divorce there is a procedure that will need to be followed. In simple terms if you and your partner agree on major issues then the procedure will be much quicker than if you disagree. In the majority of divorces the whole process will take about four months. Provided you largely agree on why you want to be divorced, how any children will be looked after and how any money will be divided up the process should be relatively straight forward.
Initially a divorce petition will be sent to the court in which you will have stated why you want a divorce. A copy of this will be sent to the person you are divorcing. The person being divorced may wish to defend the divorce which then makes the process more complicated. If the divorce is not defended then you would move onto the next stage the decree-nisi. This is a document that goes to the court saying there is no reason why the divorce cannot be granted. Once the decree-nisi is issued you can apply for a decree absolute six weeks later. The decree absolute formally ends the marriage.
This is the process in the most simple terms. Where disputes occur about children or how money or assets are distributed then issues may become much more complicated and it would be wise to take legal advice.
Financially – Who Gets What?
Sometimes when a marriage or civil partnership ends there will be disputes over how marital possessions will be split up.
A court can help to decide who gets what. The dividing up of the marital assets can be a difficult and up-setting process and can include possessions, money, property and child maintenance/support issues. This may include savings, pensions, companies, assets abroad or inherited wealth. If the court is required to assist in this matter then a financial order will be sought. This whole process can be costly and time consuming and where possible should be avoided. However, in some cases it will be necessary to ensure a fair distribution of goods and possessions takes place.
Before applying for a financial order you are required to consider mediation. In fact, in some cases a judge may insist on mediation at least being tried.
You will normally have to pay a fee when you make an application for a financial order to the court. About three to four months later you will be given what is known as a First Appointment with a judge. Both parties will now complete a form giving information on their past and future financial situations. This form is fairly detailed and must be returned to the court within 35 days of your First Appointment and also sent to your spouse. At the First Appointment if there is agreement on how to proceed a First Order can be issued by the judge. If no agreement is possible then you will be required to attend a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing. Usually this involves attendance by both parties and the judge will try to help you reach an agreement.
If no agreement can be made then a final hearing will be sought. At the final hearing a different judge will make a decision on how the finances will be distributed. A Final Order will be issued stating what will happen and this will be binding to both parties.