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Family Law Matters - Uncovered

Over the forthcoming months the Family Team at Maitland Walker LLP Solicitors will be posting regular blogs on various aspects of family law. This initial blog is intended as an overview, but future blogs will proivde more detailed insights on particular issues which can arise as a result of family breakdown.

Maitland Walker have a dedicated family department offering advice on all areas of private family law.  We offer bespoke, practical advice to guide you through the legal processes following the breakdown of a relationship and focus on how to positively resolve any issues that have arisen. We can assist with divorce, separation, financial and children issues.

We offer a free initial consultation during which we can explain the services and support we offer and give you a chance to meet the people who will be able to help you.

Please telephone Hannah Venning on 01823 745 777 or 01643 707777 to make an appointment.

Our Services

Divorce

We can answer the following questions:

-          How do I get divorced?

-          How much does it cost to get divorced?

-          How long does it take to get divorced?

-          Do I have to go to court to get divorced?

-          Can you help me sort out my child arrangements?

-          Can you help me with the division of my financial assets?

Most of these questions will be answered at the first meeting.  Getting divorced is a stand alone process but many people will need additional advice relating to financial and children issues.

Financial Remedy

This is the legal term used to describe how the financial matters will be resolved. It is always hoped that things can be discussed amicably but that is not always possible if one person is making unfair demands. There are lots of issues to be considered and it is not always possible to achieve a totally clean financial break between partners.

We can help you with the following:

-          Will I have to move out of our house?

-          Will I have to sell the house?

-          We have more than one property so how do we divide them?

-          We own our business – what will happen?

-          Will I have to pay money to my ex partner?

-          What will happen with my pension?

-          Will we have to go to court to resolve the financial position?

These are just a few of the financial matters we will need to discuss with you. At a first meeting we will ask you questions to find out about your financial position and give you some initial general advice.

 

Separation

Lots of people live together without getting married. If your relationship ends then you will not have the same rights as people that are married. It is important that you take prompt advice as there may be protective actions that you can take in relation to property or to children. We can help answer the following questions. These are just a few examples:

-          Do I have any rights to the property that I lived in?

-          Am I entitled to stay living in the property?

-          Can I make my ex partner leave the property?

-          Can I have my possessions back?

-          What happens to the money that I have contributed to the upkeep of the house?

-          Do I have to pay my ex partner?

Each person’s circumstances are different so it is important that you take advice specific to your needs.

 

Living together/Cohabitation

If you are thinking of living with your partner then you may wish to take advice ideally, but not necessarily, in advance. This is particularly important if one of you owns a property or is going to invest into a property which you will jointly occupy so that you understand your rights.

A common law wife or husband does not exist. You do not gain automatic rights by living with someone. However, you may have gained an interest by a direct or indirect financial contribution or an intention. This is a complex area of law so you should take advice on protecting your position.

It is also important to consider the impact of cohabitation in the context of one of you dying. If one person dies then the other may not have a right to stay in the property. Our Wills and Estate Planning Department can also be involved to ensure your wishes are met on death.

Pre Nuptial Agreements and Post Nuptial Agreements

If you are getting married, or are already married, you could enter into a pre or post nuptial agreement to protect your financial position.  Such agreements are becoming much more popular especially when parents are gifting money and/or property to their children, or if you owned a property or business before you met your spouse.

Pre/Post Nuptial Agreements are also used by people who have previously been married and/or have children from previous relationships to protect  their finances for the benefit of their children.

A pre/post nuptial agreement is not binding under our current legislation but they are upheld in the UK courts on divorce so long as various criteria have been met. The most important being full financial disclosure, before the document is produced, and both parties having received legal advice.

 

Children

 The law relating to children is complex and extensive. We set out below some specific areas that you may be concerned about.

If you are getting divorced or separating from your partner, you and your children have rights to see each other. If parents can arrange what happens with their children then they do not need to document these arrangements.  If one person is stopping the other person seeing the children, there is a disagreement about where the children will live or issues about taking the children out of the country then the court may need to intervene.

It is usually necessary to attend mediation before making an application to the court, but if this is not appropriate or if it is  unsuccessful then a parent can make an application to the court for a child arrangements order, formerly commonly referred to as  ‘custody’, ‘access’,  or ‘contact orders’.  The order provides with whom the child will live and when they will see the other parent. In many cases this is a shared care arrangement.

The court can also intervene if there is concern that the children may be at harm when they are with a parent. If you have any immediate concerns about your children then you should telephone the police or social services and then take advice from a solicitor.

Those with parental responsibility for their children have a right to have an input in their child’s upbringing. This includes education, religion and medical matters. We can advise you whether you automatically have parental responsibility or whether you have a right to apply for it.  You do not have to be a biological parent to be able to make an application to the court.

We can help you answer the following questions:

-          What is a parenting plan?

-          Is a parenting plan a legal document?

-          Am I entitled to know where my children live?

-          Am I entitled to know who my children live with?

-          Do I have parental responsibility?

-          How do I get child maintenance?

-          Can my ex partner remove our child from the home?

-          Do I have any rights as a grandparent?

These are only a few of the questions that you may need answered.

 

At Maitland Walker we provide practical, sympathetic advice. We will help you obtain what you are entitled to and make sure it is fair.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation. We can see you in our Taunton office, telephone 01823 745 777, or Minehead 01643 707777. Appointments can be arranged out of usual office hours by prior agreement.