Family Law Guide
encompasses a wide range of legal issues within a family. At Family law Challenor Gardiner, our lawyers deal with private family law matters only, not public law cases involving care proceedings or adoption. Our private family law work covers the following: Divorce & Separation Financial claims on marriage breakdown Child Care Arrangements Parental Responsibility Agreements Domestic Abuse Civil Partnerships Pre-nuptial & Post-nuptial Agreements Co-habitation and Separation Agreements Property Disputes Inheritance Act Claims Child Abduction Cases, Domestic & International Trust of Land Claims Between the Co-owners of The Property
Most family dispute matters that cannot be settled amicably or through solicitors or family mediation are dealt with in the Family Court system. More complex and high value cases may be undertaken in the Family Division of the High Court. Family law also covers inheritance claims in the case of death where reasonable financial provision has not been made in a will for a souse, cohabitee or child of the deceased.
Challenor Gardiner will help deal with every issue in a constructive and helpful way whilst offering complete support during tough times.
Relationship breakdowns often involve children and separating out a couple's finances on
separation or divorce. As Family solicitors we endeavour to assist one of the parties in finding solutions which are fair and enable both sides to move on with their lives. For married couples, this may mean a permanent separation and divorce, settling the arrangements for any children of the family and settling the finances of the parties with a financial settlement, or court order.
Engaged couples are increasingly looking to make
Pre-nuptial agreements that allow them to set out their financial plans if the marriage was to break down in the future. Although still not binding on divorcing couples, they are increasingly upheld as binding by the courts provided certain conditions are met and can prevent any costly disagreements about pre-marital wealth contributions and preserving assets for the party who acquired it before the marriage. Pre-nuptial agreements are not suitable for everyone and, usually, it is the last thing an engaged couple will want to think about, but if someone is coming to the marriage with more wealth than their future spouse and they want to protect it should the relationship end then it is sensible to take advice first about it.
Disagreements about the future
arrangements for the children of the family are common when parents, whether married to each other or not, separate. Although this can be a difficult time for everyone, mainly the children, it is important to try and agree where they are to live and the arrangements for the other parent to see them and have them to stay over. If parents cannot agree the shared arrangements for the children, whether between themselves or through family mediation, either parent can apply to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order. Under the Children Act 1989, the child's interests are paramount when dealing with disputes over them.
Cohabitation disputes invariably involve a home bought together without properly considering their respective shares, which can become more complicated if their are young children of the relationship. Couples who have not been married fall outside the matrimonial legislation when it comes to property rights. This can be a complicated area involving trust law if a dispute arises over contributions to buy the house. The problems usually start when a house is first bought together, as cohabiting couples do not want to think about what would happen if their relationship breaks down. It is advisable at the outset to agree the shares each have in the house and enter into a declaration of trust, which in most cases will bind the couple on separation. This avoids a potential dispute arising in future about the shares each has in the house. However, if their are minor children of the relationship a court may postpone a sale and division of the sale proceeds until the youngest reaches 18 years of age. This can cause one party hardship having to wait for realisation of their share on sale.
If you need help with any family law issues or you require advice or representation, please contact Challenor Gardiner today on and we will arrange an initial consultation with you to talk you through all your options. 01865 721451 Marriage Breakdown and Divorce
There is only one ground for a divorce and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This has to be supported by one of the following 5 facts:
The other spouse has committed adultery The other spouse's unreasonable behaviour Both spouses have lived apart for 2 years and the other spouse consents to a divorce Both spouse have lived apart for more than 5 Years One spouse has deserted the other for 2 Years
Adultery requires proof, usually a signed admission or admission on the form of acknowledgement of the petition returned to the court.
Unreasonable behaviour can be anything which causes the petitioning spouse to believe that it has caused the breakdown of the marriage. It is a subjective test, but must appear sufficiently serious to have done so.
5 years separation does not require consent, but can be defended if it might cause the other party financial hardship, so the matrimonial finances will first need to be agreed or a court order made before the decree absolute can be granted. Before a petition for divorce is issued we attempt to agree the content so as to avoid animosity and so minimise potential conflict which might have an adverse impact on the children and financial issues.
The divorce process can take six months, as long as it is undefended and the financial claims have been agreed and a court order made. The decree absolute may be put on hold until there is a final financial order because, for example, divorce will affect a divorced spouse's rights to the other spouse's pension which will be lost on divorce if no final financial order has been made.
Arrangements for Children?
It is up to separated parents to agree the future arrangements for their children and the court will not get involved, unless it is through public law proceedings to protect children, or, where the parents cannot agree the arrangements and mediation has failed or is not suitable, for example, where there is an allegation of domestic abuse or the other parent will not engage in the mediation process.
Where The Child Will Live Which Parent Will Be The Child's Main Carer How Often The Absent Parent Will See The Child Maintenance Arrangements outside of the Child Maintenance Service
Where parents cannot agree between themselves, or through mediation, where the children go to school, or other major issue, a parent can apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order for the court to decide.
Sometimes a parent with the main care of the children will want to move away from the area, often a long way, or abroad, which will mean that the other parent will not be able to see the children as often, or, possibly, at all, and vice versa. If their is no consent, the parent wanting to move will need the court's permission to do so and will have to apply for a Specific Issue Order.
Occasionally a parent will attempt to take the children from the parent with the main care without consent, or not return them after a visit or abducts them, in which case an application can be made on an emergency basis for a Prohibited Steps Order, Child Arrangement Order and order for their return.
Children cannot be removed from the jurisdiction of the court, that is England and Wales, without the written consent of the other parent or a court order permitting it and if a parent takes the children abroad without permission, or does not return them as agreed, an application for their return can be issued in the High Court invoking the Hague Convention for the authorities in the country the children have been taken to return them to this country. Not all countries have signed up to the Hague Convention, which can then make it more difficult to obtain an order in the country to which the children have been removed to order their return.
Challenor Gardiner will help with all family issues and agreements you have to make. Just get in touch with us today on . 01865 721451