Family Law

We have legal practitioners who are able to steer you through the pitfalls and offer you advice in a sympathetic and sensitive way.

This is probably the most distressing reason to see your solicitor especially if there are children involved. The prospect of going through divorce and financial matters or trying to resolve who sees the children and when and where the children live can be daunting but with the right professional advice and assistance it can be made a lot easier.

We can explain the divorce process to you and start the action off for you and keep you informed of developments as it progresses.

These can be difficult times and we are able to take the sting out of the process and particularly help you make decisions which are in the best interests of all (especially the children) concerned).

Remember you do not have to be married to become involved in a family dispute. The rights and liabilities of an unmarried partnership or indeed a same sex partnership in many areas are not the same as a married couple.

Please ring our Legal Executive Lesley Clarke on 01978 367833 to obtain the correct legal advice.

 

THE DIVORCE PROCESS

STEP 1

We do offer a free half hour appointment to find out what it is involved in the divorce process.

STEP 1

The petition – this is the document in which you make your request to the court for a divorce.  You need to establish one of the five “grounds” to be able to divorce i.e. adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two-year separation with consent, desertion, or five-year separation.  The divorce petition is filed at the court and sent to your partner.

STEP 3

Acknowledgement of Service Form – this form needs to be completed by your partner (the “respondent”) and filed at the court.

STEP 4

Upon receipt of the Acknowledgement of Service form, the application for Decree Nisi is made to the court.  This is not the final order in the divorce proceedings.  You can apply for Decree Absolute six weeks and one day after pronouncement of Decree Nisi.

STEP 5

Decree Absolute – the Absolute means the final order and your divorce is finalised.  You will no longer be married.

STEP 6

Financial Proceedings (if agreed) – if you and your partner have agreed a financial settlement in divorce proceedings then a consent order has to be prepared and signed by both of you and filed at the court.  The terms of the order will incorporate the financial agreement between the two of you and achieve a clean break.

Financial Matters if Contested

If financial matters are not agreed between yourself and your partner, then a referral to mediation can be made on your behalf.  Mediation is a scheme that has been brought in to bring parties together to try and resolve financial matters, and in most cases a financial agreement can be reached at an early stage.  Mediation may not be appropriate where there has been domestic violence.  If there is still a dispute in financial matters, then a formal financial application has to be made to the court and the procedure is as follows: -

STEP 1

File Form A.  This is your application for financial relief.

STEP 2

Your application is listed for a First Appointment in 12 to 16 weeks.

STEP 3

Before the First Appointment both yourself and the respondent have to file a Form E.  The Form E provides the court with details of your income and capital position and you will be asked to provide copies of your bank statements, wage slips, valuations of properties and pension values.

STEP 4

First Appointment – the First Appointment before the court is a housekeeping appointment to ensure that the parties have completed Form E and make sure any questions raised have been answered.  The matter is then listed for an FDR (Financial Dispute Resolution) appointment.

STEP 5

The FDR – this is the hearing before the court when the parties are encouraged to resolve matters with the assistance of the District Judge.  You will be required to attend court.  No evidence is heard at that hearing but representations are made on your behalf by the legal representatives and negotiations will take place to try to achieve a settlement.  The District Judge at the FDR will give an indication as to how they think the case should be settled.  If no agreement can be reached, then the matter is listed for a final hearing.

STEP 6

Final Hearing – this is the final hearing when both yourself and the respondent will give evidence on your financial circumstances and the District Judge will make a final decision and a financial order will be made by the court. 

CHILDREN PROCEEDINGS

If there is a dispute regarding the arrangements for the children in your relationship, in the first instance, mediation can assist as a means of trying to resolve those difficulties.  Mediation is a scheme that has been brought in to bring parties together to try and resolve issues regarding the children.  Mediation would not be appropriate if there has been domestic violence.  If no agreement can be reached in mediation, then a formal application would have to be made to the court for a Child Arrangements Order and the procedure would be as follows: -

STEP 1

File application to the court

STEP 2

Your application is the listed for a FHDRA hearing (“First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment”).  Prior to this hearing, CAFCASS (“Family and Children’s Court Advisory and Support Service”) will arrange a telephone appointment with you to discuss the application and to deal with safeguarding checks.  A safeguarding report will be filed at the court prior to the FHDRA appointment.

STEP 6

The FHDRA appointment.  At this appointment, a CAFCASS Officer will be present at court to speak to yourself and your former partner to try to see if an agreement can be reached in respect of the children.  If there has been domestic violence the separate meetings will take place.  If an arrangement can be reached, then an order will be drawn up by the court.  If no arrangement can be reached, then at that stage the court may order CAFCASS to file a Section & report or statement to be filed and the matter is listed for a final hearing.  If a CAFCASS report has to be filed, then this takes 12-16 weeks.

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city George Burns
Sali  Williams
Partner
01978 367830
Lesley Clarke
Legal Executive
direct dial 01978 367833