Family Law FAQs

What is a family lawyer?

A family lawyer is a legal practitioner who specialises in Family Law. Family Law covers a wide range of services, most often divorce, all areas of financial provision – property, pensions, maintenance etc, child arrangements, pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements, child adoption and surrogacy, domestic violence and more.

When should I contact a family lawyer?

That is a very individual decision, and if you feel you are in a situation where you think you may need to seek legal advice, you probably should. Seeking advice about your position and rights does not mean you have to start any legal proceedings. Some people like to have the initial consultation just as an information gathering exercise, some have already decided on a course of action and discussed it with their partner and are ready to begin a formal process. We will advise you of options and factors you need to consider and when you should think about taking action.

Why is Family Law important?

Family Law protects the rights of all family members whether they are adults or children. Our Family Law solicitors understand that family issues can be both complex and sensitive. We have experience helping people with both legal and emotional issues. Whatever your family circumstances, our specialist solicitors in London will be able to provide you with legal advice tailored to your needs.

How soon can you get started?

Once you contact us, a member of our specialist Family Law team will take information from you to better understand your personal circumstances. If you are eligible for the fixed fee meeting, this can take place as soon as possible. We also deal with urgent situations, where injunctions may be needed, sometimes on the same day as the initial instruction.

What happens if you want to get divorced – What’s the process?

One of our Family Law solicitors will assist you through the process, starting with a fixed fee meeting to give you all the information about what you need to do and how long the process takes, and what the cost is.

You must file an application at court called a petition. The person filing the petition is the petitioner and the person who receives the petition is the respondent. The benefit of being the petitioner is that you have greater control over the divorce timetable. You may also be able to obtain a costs Order against the respondent if you are seeking a divorce based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The application for Decree Nisi is then prepared by the petitioner’s solicitors.

Six weeks after Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute. This is the final stage of the divorce and once it is granted by the court your divorce is finalised.

Do all child arrangements have to be formally approved by the court?

No. The courts will only get involved if you can’t agree on these issues, or if the child’s welfare is a matter of serious concern.

My ex-partner and I are arguing about the level of contact with our children. How can we sort this out?

Advice can be taken on legal rights and responsibilities for children from our specialist solicitors. We can talk you through the options for resolving the issues which include mediation and correspondence between solicitors.

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding in England?

Pre-nuptial agreements aren’t legally binding in the UK at the moment. But that’s not to say that they aren’t useful. A pre-nuptial agreement will still be taken into consideration in the event of divorce and can have a significant influence on the eventual settlement awarded.

How will our family assets and income be divided if we separate?

There are a number of ways in which you can sort out what happens to capital and income on divorce. Capital includes property, pensions, investments and savings. Income may be divided to pay maintenance for you or for children.

It is always best to try to reach an agreement outside of the court and there are various ways this can be done, for example through solicitor negotiation, collaboration, mediation or round-table meetings. The simplest way of resolving a case is for the parties to provide voluntary financial disclosure of all of their assets, liabilities and income. The parties, usually through their solicitors, can then begin negotiations aimed at reaching a fair settlement.

If you are able to come to an agreement then this should be recorded in a Consent Order and filed at court.

In some cases court proceedings have to be issued in order to get matters progressing. The court sets out a timetable that must be followed. Most cases settle within this timetable. If the case does not settle it will progress to a final hearing where the court will decide how the assets are to be divided.

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