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Family Law

We aim to provide sympathetic, confidential and independent advice in relation to all of your family problems. We can help with matters such as separation, divorce, nullity, children matters, domestic violence, cohabitation disputes, property and financial matters.

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Changing your name
Children
Civil Partnership
Cohabitation: setting up a home together/the end of the relationship
Divorce, nullity and separation
Domestic abuse
Financial matters: property and finance
Forced marriages
Prenuptial agreements
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If you require a confidential consultation please contact Séverine Vincent on 01926 422101 or visit our contact page. Alternatively you can send a message directly using the contact form.

 

Family Law FAQ's

I am now separated from my husband and I want to file for divorce. We jointly own a property, where I am currently staying with my two children who are 4 and 7 years old. My husband is putting pressure on me to get his share of the property now, which I cannot afford to give him. What can I do?

If you cannot resolve matters amicably or through mediation, once the divorce has been issued, you may wish to make an application to the court to resolve the finances. The court will consider a number of factors and decide what would be a fair division of the assets. It may well be that your husband’s share will be tied up in the property until your youngest child reaches the age of 18.

I have been unhappy in my marriage for some time. How can I get a divorce when my partner will not agree?

You can apply to the Court to end the marriage by issuing a divorce Petition. This can be based upon what you think is unreasonable behaviour displayed by your partner within the marriage. Everyone’s situation is different. A Petition can go ahead even if your partner does not co-operate and even if you continue to live in the same property.

After an argument with my ex-husband, he threatened not to return my child after his next contact visit. He has since apologized and said he was just angry when he said this, but I am still worried. What can I do if he carries out his threat?

If your ex-husband refuses to return your child, then you should apply to the court for an order for the child’s return (known as a specific issue order) and also an order preventing him from removing your child from your care (prohibited steps order). You may also wish to apply for a residence order to avoid any further problems in the future. A solicitor will be able to advise you further and help you with those applications.

I lived with my partner for five years and we have a son. We split up when he was three. My partner has now met someone else and wants to cut me out of my son’s life. Do I have any rights as we were not married. When we split up I saw him regularly and now I do not see him at all. Is there anything I can do?

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the mother has parental responsibility. The father has parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the birth, or if the child is born on or after 1st December 2003) and the father is named on the child’s birth certificate. An unmarried father not named on the birth certificate can obtain it in one of several ways. Once he has parental responsibility it puts him in the same position as the mother. Whether you have parental responsibility or not, you can apply to the Court for a contact Order to your son. The Court will ultimately make an appropriate Order after investigations are carried out. If at all possible an agreement should be reached between you and mediation may be of assistance as it is far better to reach an agreement between you without the need for Court intervention.

I have been with my partner for 10 years and we have just separated. We have a property in joint names and we contributed equally to the purchase. My partner says she is entitled to have a greater share of the property as has our child living with her. Is that correct?

You both chose to live as an unmarried couple (cohabitees) and your rights are not protected in the same way as a married couple. The reality is that unmarried couples enjoy and/or acquire no special rights in relation to each other no matter how long they have lived together. Accordingly when their relationship ends, whether through separation or death, they are treated as if they are two unrelated individuals and the matrimonial laws do not offer them any protection as would be the case in a divorce. However your cohabitee may be able to remain in the property until the child reaches 18.

My partner and I have lived together for 8 years. We bought a house which is owned in joint names. I want the relationship to end but my partner is refusing to move out. What can I do?

As you are joint owners, you both own the house in equal shares unless there are any documents to prove otherwise such as a Trust Deed. If there is no such documentation, then it would depend on how the purchase of the house was funded and the contributions of each party. If your partner will not reach an agreement with you, it is possible to ask the courts to make appropriate orders. The Court has the power to determine your share, order the sale of the property.

I have been married for 10 years. Our marriage was happy to begin with but my partner has developed a drink problem and I am both physically assaulted and verbally abused on a regular basis. I now realize that the children are suffering because of my partner’s behavior. I cannot leave the house because I have nowhere to go with the children. Is there anything I can do?

You can apply for a non-molestation and an occupation order. The non-molestation part of the order covers all behavior from assaults, threats of assault, harassment and pestering. The occupation part of the order can require your partner to vacate the property in which you live. The order will be for a period of time, maybe 6 months or a year and is an emergency remedy for your protection. If your partner is required to vacate the property for a period of time, it will give you time to consider your long term position such as dissolving the marriage. If the order is breached, your partner could be sent to prison.

I have been told that I can only get an injunction if the person abusing me is my partner? Is that true? My ex boyfriend keeps on pestering and harassing me and I want it to stop.

You can get an injunction if the person abusing you is your ex-husband or wife, someone you are or have been engaged to, someone you are or have lived with, a relative, the other parent or someone who shares parental responsibility for your child or an adoptive parent of your child. If you don’t fit in any of these categories, you can however still stop a former boyfriend or girlfriend from harassing you by using the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This Act gives the court the powers to impose restraining orders that are similar to occupation and non-molestation orders. If you have been the victim of violence you can also get the help of the police, whoever has abused you. Ask to speak to the community safety officer at your local police station.

When my husband and I divorced, it was agreed as part of the financial settlement and recorded in the court order that my ex-husband should pay £400 per month to me for the benefit of the children. However, my ex-husband has persistently been defaulting in paying. Is there anything I can do to force him to pay?

You can go back to court to enforce the order and seek an order that your husband pays for the costs of your application. If your ex-husband is employed, you can apply for an attachment earnings order so the child maintenance will be paid directly from his wages. If he is self-employed and owns a property then you could apply for a charging order to secure the debt to his home. You could then apply to the court for an order for sale of his property. You will however need the court’s permission to enforce maintenance arrears of more than 12 months.

I am going through a divorce with my husband but we cannot seem to agree on the finances. We jointly own a house and I also have another property in my sole name. I have been told by my friend that I can make an application to court to resolve matters. What orders can the court make?

The court can make orders for maintenance from one spouse to the other, maintenance for the children (if agreed between the parties), a lump sum for yourself or sometimes also for the children if necessary, a “property adjustment” or “transfer of property” order (such as putting the house in one person’s name, or selling it), giving a spouse a share or claim on the other’s pension fund (i.e. give a share now of the pension fund to the other, or having a payment out of it). The court will take various matters into account when considering what order should be made. In particular the court will consider the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the parties, the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has, or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage, the age of each spouse and the duration of the marriage, any physical and mental disability of each spouse, the contribution which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family (including looking after the home or caring for the family), the conduct of each spouse if the court thinks it would be unfair to disregard it, any benefit (most usually pension provisions) that a spouse might lose because of the divorce. Depending on those factors, the court will make an order to achieve a fair settlement.

I have just received a paper from the court informing me that I have to attend court as my wife has made an application for a financial order. What is going to happen?

Your wife has made a financial application to resolve the finances linked with the divorce. As part of the procedure, you will have to complete and file a long form with all your financial details (called a Form E). This form will also have to be exchanged with your wife (or her solicitors) at the same time. The court has fixed a hearing known as a “First Appointment”. You and your wife will also need to file and serve on the other a questionnaire of things it will be necessary for the other side to answer arising from the Form E, a chronology and a statement of issues between the parties. The first appointment gives the court an opportunity to look at the case generally, try to find out what is required to further the matter and whether any agreement to settle can be reached. If the financial disclosure is incomplete or if the matter does not settle, then the court will list it, two months after the first appointment, for a second hearing called a “Financial Dispute Resolution” where the parties will be given an opportunity to try and settle the matter by agreement and most sides will have made offers to each other prior to the hearing. Most cases settle at this stage. If yours does not, then the judge will list it for a final hearing where both you and your wife will be required to give evidence. Having heard both sides and taken careful note of all the evidence, the District Judge will then make a decision, give the reasons for his decision in the form of a judgment and make a final order to divide the assets.

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