Family & Divorce Law

Family & Divorce Law 2017-11-27T16:46:30+00:00

Family & Divorce Law

CALL TO MAKE AN INITIAL APPOINTMENT TO SEE ONE OF OUR SPECIALIST FAMILY LAW SOLICITORS – CONTACT 01494 870075 OR 01296 747151

Our team

Our Family Department is expanding and our team is here to provide the necessary support for our family and divorce clients in Buckinghamshire and the surrounding areas.

 

We know that divorce and separation is an emotionally turbulent time for all concerned. There are many permutations of relationship breakdown, from concerns as to what will happen with the children, to how the finances will be divided.

Seeking legal advice at an early stage is vital, as often the anxiety experienced is fuelled by the fear of the unknown.

We are here to help. Our specialist family solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing exclusively with family matters. We offer sensitive, practical and expert advice on all aspects of relationship breakdown.

We advise on all matters, including:

  • Divorce/Dissolution and Separation
  • Civil Partnerships
  • Financial Settlements
  • Cohabitation Agreements or Disputes
  • Children
  • Nuptial Agreements
  • Domestic Abuse

For an initial 30 minute free consultation, please call either our Chalfont St Giles office on 01494 870075 or Stone, Aylesbury on 01296 747151.

There is only one ground for divorce in this country, and that is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This ground must be proved by using one of five facts: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; separation of at least two years with the other spouse’s consent to a divorce; separation of at least five years; or desertion. We can advise you on the most appropriate way forward in any event, and offer a fixed fee where the matter is uncontested.

If you are unmarried and living with your partner, there is no legal barrier to separation and it can occur as and when either partner wishes. It is often sensible to record any agreement between you on separation in a formal document.

If you are married, for many couples, separation is a practical alternative to seeking an immediate divorce. You can separate quickly, without needing to involve the court, and later use the arrangements agreed for the separation as the basis for a final financial settlement when divorce proceedings are later issued. Separation Agreements are not legally binding, although they are likely to carry weight in the event of a dispute at Court about the division of matrimonial assets, and serve to demonstrate to the Court the intention of the parties.

You can have a Separation Agreement prepared to set out your intentions in relation to the division of assets, paying maintenance and the arrangements for the children. You may need to deal with practical issues such as closing any joint accounts and registering your right to live in the family home. You will also need to make or review an existing Will, in order to protect your wishes.

Alternatively, you may be looking at dissolving a Civil Partnership. Many same sex partners who consider registering a civil partnership think of it in terms of making a commitment to each other and having their relationship publicly recognised. It is also essential to understand the rights and responsibilities you will each have – similar to those of a (mixed sex) married couple. One of the key advantages of registering a civil partnership is that it provides a degree of financial security for each other.

Civil Partners have a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for each other and for any child of the partnership. If the relationship breaks down, either partner may be able to make a financial claim in much the same way as when a married couple divorce.

Civil Partners are treated in the same way as married couples for taxation purposes – this can have a major advantage in terms of Inheritance Tax (IHT) and Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Registered civil partners are treated in the same way as married couples for most state benefits and employment benefits as well.

Registering a Civil Partnership is a good opportunity to review your financial planning generally, including pension arrangements, life insurance and so on. In addition, registering the partnership automatically revokes any existing Wills. Each partner will have an automatic right to inherit at least part of the other’s estate on death, but this may well not provide the outcome you would want – you should each prepare a new Will.

If you have a child, you or your partner can apply to adopt the child or apply for parental responsibility. A same sex couple can also apply to adopt a child who is not related to either of you.

A registered Civil Partnership remains in force until it is dissolved (or in rare cases annulled) by the court. If you separate without dissolving the partnership, neither of you is able to enter a new registered partnership (or to get married).

Resolving financial matters between separating couples can be difficult. We can help you with negotiating a financial settlement with your spouse, no matter what the circumstances are.

We encourage you to speak to your spouse directly regarding settlement, once you have taken our advice and where it is possible to do so. If you are able to agree matters between you, then we can draft that agreement into what will become a legally binding document, signed off by a Judge.

If it is not possible to agree with your spouse, then the next step would be to attempt mediation. We can refer you to a suitable mediator in the local area. They will help you and your spouse try to reach an agreement whist playing an impartial role and assisting in managing expectations.

If mediation is not successful, then we will do all we can to negotiate a settlement directly with your spouse or their solicitor, if they have one.

In some cases, the only way of resolving a dispute is to go to Court. We can advise and assist you through the entire process. We work closely with experienced Barristers in order to form your specialist legal team, where appropriate.

If you are planning on living with your partner, or are currently cohabiting, it may be worth drawing up a Cohabitation or Living Together Agreement. Cohabiting couples often assume that living together as a couple creates similar rights and responsibilities as marriage, and still prevalent is the misconception that there is such a thing as “common law” husband and wife.

Cohabitation does not generally give you automatic rights to each other’s property or for financial support from one another and, if your partner dies, cohabiting does not entitle you to inherit. Conversely, if a cohabiting couple separate and there are children involved, then both cohabiting partners may have rights and responsibilities – even if only one of them is their biological parent. Whatever the circumstances we can advise you on all aspects of relationship breakdown and guide you through the process.

Ideally, you should try to agree the arrangements for the children between you and your partner or spouse. However, we understand that this is not always possible. We are here to help, advise and guide you through the process.

When dealing with issues of this nature we encourage clients to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation which many find helpful. We can discuss with you a range of services which you may find useful in circumstances where there is a dispute regarding the children.

In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, we can assist you with a court application or help you to respond to such an application if the other parent has made one. We understand that the court process can be daunting, particularly for those who have not had any dealings with the court in the past. We can help you through the process and assist you in bringing matters to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

In the event that an agreement made or approved by the court is breached, we can also assist you with enforcement or variation of such an order where appropriate.

Increasingly, couples who are about to embark on marriage recognise the need to establish and define what will happen if the relationship breaks down. We understand that this is an emotive subject, as Pre-Nuptial Agreements are of course predicated on the marriage breaking down at some stage.

Whilst making arrangements for a potential separation before even getting married is not particularly romantic, it can help reassure a couple of any financial uncertainty involved in the event of breakdown of the relationship. Indeed, many wealthy individuals or those embarking on second or subsequent marriages may bring into the marriage assets which they would be keen to protect.

A properly drafted Pre-Nuptial Agreement can help to protect your assets in the event of the marriage breaking down. However, it is crucial that detailed legal advice is obtained, that the agreement is drawn up carefully and that it addresses the various legal requirements.

For those that have already married without a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, a Post-Nuptial Agreement remains an option and is a way to help protect your financial position.

At present, both forms of Nuptial Agreement are still not legally binding in English law but significant weight can be attached to their contents if they are prepared in accordance with the legal requirements set out in recent legal cases. It is therefore crucial that detailed legal advice is sought at the earliest stage if you have concerns about protecting your assets.

Domestic abuse may be physical or psychological and can include harassment or pestering. It may be inflicted on anyone in a relationship and also on those whose relationships have come to an end.

We aim to give highly sensitive advice and will discuss your needs and protection, including whether you wish for an application to be made to the Court for an injunction (non-molestation order) or occupation order. A non-molestation order prohibits the perpetrator from coming near you and an occupation order can exclude them from your home, if you live together. We ensure that we are as discreet as possible if we need to contact you, especially if your partner is still living with you and you are worried about them discovering that you have taken legal advice.

Contact us

To arrange an appointment to discuss family or divorce related matters with a member of our legal team
Tel: 01494 870075 (Chalfont office) or 01296 747151 (Stone office)

Or complete the form below

We are accredited with

Law Society Conveyancing

Law Society Wills