Splitting Up is the go-to site for anyone seeking initial FREE advice and support on a whole range of Family Law issues. Get in touch with us today to request your consultation.
Seeking information about family law or in need of an expert to help you through your separation? Simply enter your search below and hit enter.
April 6 is a significant anniversary in English family law: one year ago today the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force. The legislation made a number of changes to the marital law in England and Wales, but one was, by some margin, the most significant: the removal of the long past-its-sell-by-date stipulation that anyone applying for a divorce must cite one of five reasons when doing so, in order to establish that the marriage had broken down.
An acknowledgement of service is a formal acknowledgement by one person that a second party has begun legal proceedings which concern them.
An adjournment is the postponement of a court hearing until a later date.
Adultery means forming a sexual relationship with a third party while married, legally adultery could only be committed between a male and female, one of whom was married. However, since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022 there is no need to make allegations of adultery within divorce proceedings.
Alderman Fenwick pride themselves on being able to provide their clients with a whole package of advice and planning for the financial needs. Their services range from mortgage advice for first time buyers, home movers, landlords or remortgages, to providing peace of mind for families via the arrangement of protection policies and to financially protect them in case of illness, injury, or loss of a loved one. Alderman Fenwick will guide and support you through the whole process.
Child maintenance is determined based on the paying parent’s gross income, the number of nights your children stay with them per week and whether the paying parent has to pay maintenance for any children they have with someone else.
Child maintenance will not be payable if:
An older term used to describe an application for ﬁnancial relief following presentation of an application for divorce, or civil partnership dissolution.
Anna is a well-respected and experienced solicitor advising on all aspects of law relating to divorce, children and financial issues arising out of relationship breakdowns. Anna is recommended by the Legal 500 as a Next Generation Partner and a Recommended Lawyer. A very impressive lawyer whose depth and quality of analysis is just spot-on. She advises on a broad range of financial provision and private children matters and is particularly well regarded for her expertise in collaborative law. Anna is skilled negotiator and is able to offer a range of solutions to help her clients resolve matters.
The suspension of pension funds can cause significant financial problems for beneficiaries. But what can family lawyers do to mitigate the risks for clients they are advising during divorce proceedings? Financial planner David Lamb, of The Pension Sharing Service, explains.
Anya is a Trainee Solicitor with North East specialist family law firm, Major Family Law,. She joined the firm in 2021 and is training in all areas of family law such as children and financial matters by working closely with the senior members of the team, ahead of her qualifying as a Solicitor in 2022. Anya graduated with an Upper Second-Class Honours Law Degree in 2019 and is currently one of the first graduates undertaking the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam.
The applicant is the person who applies for a divorce.
Arbitration is an out of court process. A qualified solicitor or barrister is appointed to decide a point, this could be a single matter or the whole dispute. This person is either a retired judge, barrister or senior solicitor. The outcome of arbitration is treated as a binding court order and called an ‘award’. Arbitration is available where both parties consent and for disputes involving money or property disputes or some disputes regarding children.
Answer: no. Although an equal division of assets is the normal starting point in divorce settlements, fairness, not mathematical equality, is the guiding principle and this is achieved by fully considering each party’s specific “needs”.
In the context of divorce, ‘needs’ refers to the funds or other assets each party to a divorce requires to pay their bills and continue their lives after the divorce.
They can be if they are deemed ascertainable which will depend on the age, level of understanding and level of maturity of your children. Even if taken into account, children’s wishes and feelings are by no means determinative, as the court realises that children often (a) don’t know what they want, (b) don’t know what is best for them and (c) sometimes say say different things to different people.
No. There is now no need to cite any reasons for wanting a divorce as you simply need to declare that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
If divorce is not an option for you maybe because of, say, religious beliefs, it is possible to obtain an order for judicial separation or a nullity order without having to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. For specialist advice on the process and the effects of nullity and judicial separation speak to a specialist divorce and family lawyer.
Remember an alternative to divorce is also not splitting up. You could stay together and try to work on your issues. Speak to a relationship counsellor in confidence.
A barrister is a lawyer who specialises in representing cases in court. They are normally hired by solicitors rather than directly by clients.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service or Cafcass is a public body which independently advises the family court cases involving children in order to ensure they are safe and the court acts in the best interests of the children.
Calvin graduated with a first class Master in Law degree in 2015, and has been undertaking a range of family law work ever since. He is motivated by achieving positive results for his clients, and is passionate about finding solutions to intractable disputes. Calvin supports his clients throughout every stage of their case and beyond, including at Court where necessary. In the latest edition of the Legal 500 Calvin is listed as a highly motivated solicitor who is driven by achieving positive results for his clients.
The Family Court must consider your children’s welfare as its first consideration when deciding who they live with and the sort of contact they might…
It is very common that parties to a dispute will file an application and by the time a hearing is scheduled they are unavailable on the listed date. There could be any number of reasons that a party is unavailable e.g. work commitments, scheduled travel plans, sickness.
Yes, you can, but it is important to go about this in the right way.
Family law is firmly focused on the welfare of children and child maintenance is a central component of that preoccupation. Child maintenance – also known as ‘child support’ – is designed to ensure that the parents who move out following divorce or separation continue to financially support their offspring. This is as it should be of course: every child deserves the best upbringing their parents can afford to give them. Poverty blights childhoods and can have a lifelong impact. Responsible parents will pay voluntarily, of course – but good behaviour can never be guaranteed, so paying child maintenance is a legal requirement for all absent parents.
Can I change the locks? Technically, yes. Can my partner force entry? Technically, yes. Something to be aware of is that, if you and your husband or wife own the family home in joint names, they are not committing any crime by gaining entry to the family home. If you can no longer tolerate living with each other, it’s much better for you to agree temporary living arrangements that do not cause hostility.
If you don’t own the property jointly but you have registered a ‘homes right’ against a property you live in which is owned by your spouse, then the same response applied. You can change the locks, and the owning spouse can also gain entry to the property.
Sometimes. This will largely depend on the firm’s caseload and internal structure. Family lawyers usually co-work cases in small teams. A solicitor may handle your matter on a day-to-day basis together with assistants, support staff and oversight from a partner or director. You would pay a blended rate for the time each fee earner’s spends progressing your case. If your matter is not particularly complex then there may be no need for you to pay the rates of a partner or director. If you are undergoing and international divorce or have complex financial affairs you may need to speak to someone with more experience which will naturally come at a greater cost to you. If you are offered a solicitor who is cheaper than your solicitor of choice, then it’s always worth considering it as you’ll save money and likely still have some input from your solicitor of choice. Family law teams chat with each other regularly.
If your separated spouse had broken their leg, you would assume that other than having a mobility issue (and pain) they would carry on as…
This is one very frequently raised question when parties are trying to resolve financial issues during divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. Despite there…
Pensions form part of the total assets that a court will consider following a divorce, and they can either be shared or offset against other…
You can relocate abroad which is also known as removing your child from the jurisdiction if all other people with parental responsibility for the children (usually the other parent) agree. This is unlikely and so most parents wishing to move abroad with their children are forced to make an application to the court. These applications are not straightforward. They can be costly both from a financial and emotional perspective and involve the court undertaking a finely balance assessment of whether a move would be in a child’s best interests. Parents wishing to move abroad must do their research before suggesting this to the other parent or to the court. Where exactly will you live? What will you do for employment? Who will pay for your living costs? Who will serve as your support system in the foreign country? What school will your child go to? How will you ensure that your children do no lose touch with their mother or father and that contact is sustained between them? Swathes of evidence will be required from the parent seeking to move. These are complicated applications that will usually require you to seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer.
You can relocate within the UK if all other people with parental responsibility for the children (usually the other parent) agree. Again, as with moving abroad, if they don’t then you will need to make an application to court. As with all applications made regarding children, the court will consider what is in the children’s best interests. Detailed evidence will be required from the parent seeking to relocate. These are complicated applications that will usually require you to seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer.
Yes. Once you the final order of divorce has been issued, your marriage is terminated and you can remarry. Do pay attention to any financial order you have agreed with your husband or wife / any financial orders that a court has made, as certain types of financial provision may come to an end on your remarriage. It may be a good idea to seek advice from a solicitor before you remarry to ensure that you understand what financial obligations from your former spouse will terminate as a result.
(a) your children’s other parent agrees; or
(b) a child arrangements order specifying that your children are to live with you is in place. If it is, then you can take your children on holiday abroad for a period of 4 weeks or less. You could take your child abroad for longer if the other parent agrees; or
(c) where you do not have a child arrangements order specifying that your children live with you and where the children’s other parent does not agree, if you seek permission from the court (leave to remove a child from the jurisdiction).
Under the Child Abduction Act 1984, it is a criminal offence for parents to take their children out of the UK without consent from all other people with parental responsibility.
No. There is no right to self-help under family law in England & Wales. If you take a document belonging to your husband or wife spouse without their knowledge or consent, this is known as “self-help”. The court does not condone self-help to a spouse’s confidential information even where it is feared that a spouse will not provide full and frank disclosure.
Self-help takes place when a person without consent, obtains information or documentation that the other person did not give them access to. Confidential communications concerned with your spouse’s private life, including their personal finances and business dealings, are likely to be confidential. This could be if you read your spouse’s diary, open their letters or intercept their emails.
It follows that it is illegal for a party to examine, make, retain, or supply copies of confidential documentation to their solicitor where the contents of such documentation are considered to be confidential to their spouse.
If your spouse has always permitted you to look at their private communications during the relationship, you should expect this to change when your relationship breaks down. As such, you shouldn’t look at any private communications after the relationship has broken down without express permission to do so.
Yes, you can either search for your own solicitor or speak to one of the highly regarded specialist family lawyers that we would recommend.
Yes of course. Your divorce isn’t final until the final order is issued and no one can blame you for wanting to be sure that you’re doing the right thing. Relate is an organisation offering relationship counselling for a whole host of issues. They have centres across the UK and a network of licensed local counsellors as well as phone, email and live chat counselling.
Absolutely. You can agree this between yourselves or through solicitors. Shared care can never be exactly half of the year but it can come close. Do remember to consider who children will spend important days with. Will you alternative Christmases? Who will they spend time with on their own birthdays? Will they stay with their mother on mother’s day and father on father’s day? There are still a lot of considerations to think about. It’s important to be flexible but shared care can create a well balanced routine for all involved.
Significant changes are being introduced in April to Capital Gains Tax which reduce the exempt amount but increase the timescales for asset transfer. Financial planner David Lamb explains.
Catherine is a qualified independent Mortgage and Protection Adviser, possessing a broad knowledge of both subjects. She works hard to provide a friendly, high-quality, customer-driven service and prides herself on maintaining excellent client relationships to help her clients secure their corner of the world. Catherine also has great experience working with people going through divorce and provides mortgage guidance and advice for changing circumstances.
The cash equivalent value sometimes referred to as the cash equivalent (CEV or CE) refers to the capitalised value of pension benefits for divorce purposes.
Relationship breakdowns and separation can have a significant impact on the children of the family. Not only are they likely to be affected emotionally by the conflict, but in practical terms, it can mean whole new living arrangements.
In family law, child abduction normally refers to the removal of a child or children by one parent without the consent of the other parent.
Child arrangements are the agreed details of where a child will live following a divorce or separation, along with how often he or she will see their other parent.
What happens when there are children involved in divorce or separation? The English courts have had the power to take responsibility for children for hundreds…
Child maintenance is money paid following a divorce or separation by the parent with whom a child or children do not normally live, this parent is sometimes referred to as the non-resident parent or the absent parent. The money paid is intended to cover the child’s living costs.
You can use this calculator to work out an amount of child maintenance for your children. It will not send your details to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This service is also available in Welsh and the calculator gives you an amount to discuss if you’re arranging child maintenance with the other parent (though you do not have to use it) and it shows you what the government is likely to work out for you.
The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is the government body with responsibility for the payment of child maintenance. It is the successor to the Child Support Agency. There is no requirement for either party to contact the CMS to calculate maintenance as the parents can reach an agreement between them. There are tools on the CMS website to help parents to do this.
Child support is an alternative name for child maintenance.
The Child Support Agency was a government body with responsibility for the payment of child maintenance, the ‘absent’ parent paid child maintenance to the parent who had care of the child. It was abolished in 2012 and replaced by the Child Maintenance Service.
The Children Act 1989 is the principal piece of legislation concerning the rights and welfare of children in England and Wales.
Christian handles all aspects of land and property work including commercial and residential conveyancing. When couples are splitting up it is often necessary to place restrictions on the title register of the matrimonial home to secure a parties interest or to sever the joint tenancy to protect a share of the matrimonial property. Christian advises on all such aspects.
Christian qualified in 1996, starting as a General Practitioner he undertook Civil litigation work for many years before specialising in Private Client work including Property and Estates work and looking after the needs of individuals in relation to the Preparation of Wills, Powers of Attorney, Deputyships, Tax Planning, Probate and the Administration of Affairs and Estates. As well as practising as a Solicitor, Christian is also Area Representative of The Solicitors’ Charity formerly the Solicitors’ Benevolent Association.
Civil partnerships are legal unions with a similar function to marriage. They were originally devised as an alternative to marriage for same sex couples but are now also available to opposite sex couples.
A clean break is a form of divorce which brings to an end any and all financial obligations between the former couple.
A cohabitation agreement is a formal agreement between a cohabiting couple concerning the details of their relationship and what would happen if they later separate.
Cohabitation refers to couples who live together without being married. This was once rare but has become very common in recent decades.
Collaborative law is a process in which a couple who plan to divorce meet with a team of specially trained lawyers, advisors and financial experts to try and work out a deal. The parties agree that if they fail to do so, they cannot call upon the same lawyers or advisors for any subsequent court proceedings.
A conditional order is the penultimate stage in the process. It is a provisional order stating that the divorce/dissolution can be finalised and the marriage/civil partnership formerly brought to a close.
A consent order is a legally binding financial agreement between a divorcing couple, setting out exactly how their assets and property will be divided. The agreement should be drafted by a solicitor, barrister or mediator and sent to the court for approval.
Following divorce or separation, children will live with one parent on a day-to-day basis. The term ‘contact’ refers to the time the other parent spends with the child.
Sadly, the fallout for some following separation or divorce can be the children of the family. On occasions the children’s feelings can be forgotten amid…
A person’s counsel is their legal representative: i.e. their solicitor or barrister.
Andrew spent four years battling in and out of court to sort out a fair and equitable financial settlement on divorce and fighting hard to…
The term custody refers to which a parent a child will live with on a day-to-day basis following divorce or separation. Although still in common parlance, the term is no longer used in official family law proceedings or documents. It has instead been replaced by a Child Arrangements Order, living with order.
David is one of the world’s leading lawyers dealing with international families. He is an English solicitor, mediator and arbitrator and sits as a part-time family court judge in central London. He is also an Australian solicitor. He received the OBE for services to international family law. His law firm, The International Family Law Group, acts for clients here and around the world, in dealing with issues of recognition of foreign orders for divorce, children and finance. This includes a specialisation in child abduction and child relocation.
David has worked in Financial Services since 1985 and has specialist qualifications in taxation, trusts and estate planning. His main area of interest is lifestyle financial planning. David is one of the region’s leading lifestyle financial planners, with a Certificate in Financial Planning and he is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment. David also holds the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Certificate for Financial Services Trusts and Estate Planning.
A declaration of trust is a formal document stating that one or more people hold assets ‘on trust’ for themselves or a third party: this means that they legally own those assets on behalf of that third party. Often used when two people live together as a cohabiting couple and want to recognise an unequal financial contribution to the property they own together.
Disclosure means revealing all relevant documents and details during a legal process like divorce. In most cases full disclosure is a legal requirement.
Divorce is the legal procedure required to end a marriage and fairly divide assets and property.
Divorce is the process that legally ends a marriage, and dissolution is the process that ends a civil partnership. Dividing your assets is a separate process, although this usually runs alongside the different stages of divorce or dissolution.
On divorce, unless you decide to leave everything apart from the state of marriage unresolved, which family lawyers would tell you is taking a big…
Divorce Money’s mission, based on years of experience, is to explore all possible outcomes for resolving your mortgage situation. Divorce Money will work alongside your legal and financial advisers to ensure they can provide as accurate lending figures in the form of a Mortgage Capacity Report as they can.
A divorce application (formally, ‘petition’) is a formal application to end a marriage.
It depends. There are two broad types of maintenance: (a) child maintenance and (b) spousal maintenance. We’ll talk about spousal maintenance here. Have a look out our children section for information on child maintenance which can be payable by the Child Maintenance Service or by Court Order, or in some cases both.
Spousal maintenance is an income order which requires one of you to make periodical payments to the other either for a fixed-term, until a defined date or, less commonly, for the rest of your lives. Spousal maintenance would be awarded where one of you is unable to support yourself i.e. your reasonable outgoings exceed your income and the other person is able to meet that need out of their income.
This sort of financial support can be reviewed if the recipient’s or payer’s circumstances change. Court’s can adjust the term for which maintenance is paid and the amount of maintenance paid.
Divorce can be a devastating upheaval – or bring and sense of relief and freedom. But whatever your reaction as you move out of the family home and begin to build a new life elsewhere, your children will remain a central part of your life, an unbreakable connection to your old life and former spouse.
Yes. Without doing so, neither your solicitors nor the courts will be able to assess fair settlement terms. You and your spouse have a duty to disclose all of your assets in a manner that is full, frank and transparent. Your duty of full and frank disclosure is a duty owed to the court. You and your husband or wife will regularly be asked to sign statements of truth i.e. statements whereby you are telling your solicitors, your spouse and the court that all of the information you have included in a document or statement is true. Even if a financial remedy order isn’t imposed on you and you and your spouse agree settlement terms amicably, you will still have to complete a Statement of Information in which you are asked to confirm the full extent of your income and capital resources. You must sign this to prove that you have disclosed a full picture of your financial position. There are severe consequences for a person whose disclosure is found to be false:
Although they are often confused, the financial aspects of divorce are separate and distinct from the legal steps process required to actually bring the marriage to an official end. Family lawyers refer to these monetary aspects as ‘financial remedies’: they result in a financial settlement, formalised with a legally-binding ‘consent order’.
Yes. While other assets can be divided directly with your estranged spouse, pension sharing does require court intervention. Pension providers cannot make such a major change without a legally binding order.
In short, yes you do, unless you can persuade a family court otherwise, and that will be no easy task.
Maintenance is a form of financial support, paid following divorce or separation at set times – normally once a month. It is paid in recognition of the significant financial disruption often triggered by divorce or separation.
Yes, in most cases, you do. But let’s start at the beginning.
It’s totally your choice based on your budget but there are obvious advantages of being represented by a specialist family law solicitor or lawyer. If you and your spouse both agree that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, then you may feel confident enough to conduct divorce proceedings yourself using the government website. We would always advise speaking to a solicitor, at least in the first instance.
Maybe. It will depend entirely on your circumstances and whether there would be enough money to meet both of your needs if you didn’t sell.
Sometimes a couple live in a property that is much bigger than they really need. When they split up the court may want the house to be sold so that each can afford to live in a smaller property. This is very fact dependant, and it is a good idea to factor in the costs of buying and selling to see whether this is an affordable option.
The most expensive item most people will ever buy is their home. Doing so with a significant other is a great way to lighten the…
Couples may happily spend many years together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will end up marrying. The registry office or wedding chapel has not been the default destination for couples in love for some time now. Instead, it has become the norm to ‘try before you buy’: to move in together and see how the relationship develops before making things official. Will you still get on a year or two down the line? Or will the inevitable emergence of an annoying habit or two prove too much and trigger a break-up?
Emma specialises in estate planning and administration, trusts and the preparation of wills and powers of attorney and has also prepared applications to the Court of Protection. She acts as a professional attorney for several clients, as well as a trustee under some family trusts. She has experience in the administration of high value estates, intestacies and the resealing of grants in foreign jurisdictions and is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
An ex parte legal order is one made without involving or hearing from an affected third party – this is normally done for reasons of speed or safety. These orders are rare and will be followed up with a hearing involving both parties. More frequently referred to as without notice legal orders.
Children law expert Sam Carter of Major Family Law discusses the issue of Parental Alienation.
In family law the term ‘fair’ can refer to full consideration or acknowledgement of the contributions made by each party to a marriage.
A family lawyer is a legal professional who specialises in family law – i.e. law concerning family relationships and marriage. The term lawyer doesn’t refer to a regulated individual, it may be that the person who calls themselves a lawyer rather than a barrister or solicitor may not have any legal qualifications or be regulated by a recognised regulator.
A family solicitor is a solicitor who specialises in law concerning family relationships, marriage and divorce. Solicitors are lawyers who work directly with clients. Solicitors are regulated by the SRA.
The first directions appointment or FDA is the first hearing that takes place in a family court when a couple are unable to agree on the financial aspects of a divorce and therefore wish a court to impose a settlement. At an FDA, specific subsequent steps will be set out, with an associated timeframe.
The financial dispute resolution hearing or FDR is the second hearing to take place in family court when a divorcing couple have failed to reach agreement. Its purpose is to encourage negotiation on financial matters.
An FHDRA (first hearing and dispute resolution appointment) is the very first hearing in a family court case. They are held to identify the key issues in dispute and to encourage negotiation between the parties.
Filing is the formal submission of a legal document in an ongoing case or application.
At the final hearing in a family court case a judge will consider all the evidence that has been presented in order to reach a conclusion and issue a judgement. The term often refers to cases involving children.
The final order of divorce is the last stage in the process, bringing the marriage to a formal conclusion. This stage was formerly known as the decree absolute.
In this second episode of Splitting Up Dot Pod, Joanne Major revisits Mandy’s separation story to dig a bit deeper into the problems she faced…
One of the main concerns for people facing divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership is often how they will cope financially and how the assets and debts of the relationship will be dealt with.
Financial remedies are those aspects of a divorce or civil partnership dissolution which concern the division of money and assets. These were formerly known as ‘ancillary relief’.
A financial remedy order is a legal order issued by a family court specifying how money and assets should be divided between a divorcing couple.
Verve Financial Planning is an independent financial adviser, and therefore is are not tied to any one financial provider. Fiona is a Chartered Financial Planner and has been in the profession since 1995, following a first career as an Air Traffic Control Officer in the RAF. She’d like to think that her experience brings clear thinking and calmness to her role, as well as the ability to listen sympathetically and to communicate carefully.
In divorce, Form A is a standard form completed in order to make a financial claim.
The Form E is an important document completed by both parties to a divorce setting out their financial circumstances in detail, along with supporting documentation. This allows a fair division of money and assets to be made.
Form G is used to confirm that both parties to a divorce dispute wish to proceed to the next stage.
Form H is an ongoing estimate of costs that must be completed by both parties at each stage of financial remedy proceedings.
The former matrimonial home is the property in which a former couple normally lived prior to divorce.
Gedye & Sons’ conveyancing department and property team specialise in bespoke purchases, sales, refinancing and transfer of equity. They understand that clients are looking for a security as quickly and as smoothly as possible. We aim to be proactive in driving each transaction through to a successful conclusion. Every single transaction is treated as a priority and they aim to remove the stress and worry from the process.
Geraint is a highly skilled Independent Financial Adviser and whole-of-market Mortgage Adviser with 20+ years of experience in the financial sector. He helps individuals find financial clarity and work on continuously improving their financial position. As director of The Money Partnership, he leads a team of advisers who provide mortgage, protection, pension, investment, and later life planning services. Geraint and the team are based in Newport, South Wales, however, their clients are nationwide.
Trained by Relate and The Tavistock, Graeme has over 22 years of experience as a relationship and marriage counsellor. Graeme previously worked for Relate Northumberland and Tyneside for over 13 years as a couple counsellor and a supervisor, for ten years in two G.P. surgeries in Newcastle and in three Sure Start Centres in Gateshead. Since 2015 he has maintained a successful private practice based in Jesmond and Gosforth. He works with individuals, couples and families with an often-complex range of issues such as separation and divorce, affairs, domestic violence, the influence of mental health on relationships and the impact of separation on children. Graeme also works with divorcing couples who feel they have drifted apart and want to manage family change and separate amicably. Graeme is highly skilled at helping individuals and couples experiencing separation process their thoughts, feelings and their circumstances, helping them to plan and implement the next stage of their life’s journey. He is available via face-to-face meetings or online.
Harriette holds the highest level of family mediation accreditation (FMCA) and has been working as an accredited family mediator since 2016. She was previously the Chief Executive of Relate Northumberland and Tyneside and holds a foundation qualification in family therapy. She is an experienced trainer and supported the national delivery of the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP). She also worked as a consultant to Cafcass on their Domestic Violence Service provision.
Helen is a solicitor and partner at The International Family Law Group and regarded as one of the world’s leading lawyers dealing with international children work. She has a distinctive specialisation in child abduction work, including instructed by the government where children have been abducted to this country. She covers child relocation, surrogacy, and adoption.
When we think of divorce and financial settlements, many of still conjure up traditional images of well-salaried husbands and anxious mothers worrying about how they’ll cope. But reality has moved beyond such old stereotypes.
One of the immediate consequences of a relationship breakdown is that one of the couple is almost inevitably going to be moving out of the…
Honesty and compromise. Often the fairest financial settlements don’t leave either party feeling particularly over the moon. Listen to the experts. If you don’t want to follow their advice and simply want to agree “x” with your spouse, then you can still do so, the solicitor may just ask you to sign a disclaimer to acknowledge that they have advised you that what you are accepting might not be in your best interests. You may have considered the pros and cons and decided to cut your losses to make things go away. That’s your prerogative, but it’s much easier to be confident of your decision after speaking with a specialist family lawyer.
While it may seem like just another form to fill out in the process of finalising your divorce, your Form E is arguably the most…
Usually, it’s best to do your own research through word of mouth, reviews and actually meeting your solicitor to see if it is the right fit. There are several good solicitors out there, but not every solicitor is for every client and vice versa. If you want to speak to one of the divorce solicitors that we deal with then you can free of charge using a free initial consultation.
For a divorce to proceed, the petitioner (who initiates the process) must be able to serve divorce papers on their husband or wife, known as ‘the respondent’. But how do you start divorce proceedings if you are estranged from your partner and don’t know their whereabouts?
This is part two of a two part article on saving money on your legal fees and how to gain the best value. You can read part one here.
Following important decisions and transactions, it is quite normal to occasionally question whether any mistake was made or whether all the right things were done or done at the right time.
Do some digging. A good starting place is the court document known as the Form E (Financial Statement). The Form E asks you for various pieces of information with documentary evidence in support. It will alert you to the information needed, for example, equity in any properties in your name, savings and pensions. Look through your bank statements as a reminder of your capital, liabilities, income and outgoings.
Even if you don’t have many or any assets to split at present, it is important to still seek to resolve financial matters by way of a clean break order. This prevents you having to look over your shoulder in case your former spouse seeks a financial order from you further down the line if you acquire assets after your marriage. Divorce in and of itself does not dismiss your ex’s financial claims until a final financial remedy order is made.
This is part one of a two part article on saving money on your legal fees and how to gain the best value. You can read part two here.
Divorce proceedings are commenced by completing a divorce application. You should be able to start divorce proceedings online: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce. The court charges a mandatory fee of £593 for processing your divorce application regardless of whether you do it yourself or go through a solicitor. The court fee changes from time to time. If you are in difficult financial circumstances the court may allow you to reduce your fee, you should look at the ‘Help with fees’ application on the government website.
You can’t really. The court will be looking to achieve a fair outcome when it comes to splitting your assets. Even if your husband or wife agrees to take nothing or a limited amount after your split, you still need to inform the court of your asset base, income and the specific terms of your agreement. The court will not rubber stamp an agreement that is patently unfair.
The best option to minimise claims after a marriage or civil partnership is to enter into the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement. This won’t be endorsed by the court if the terms of the agreement are unfair, but it will prevent your spouse from taking a bigger share of your assets and income than they need.
You can check this using the Child Maintenance Service calculator. Before you go onto the calculator, you’ll need the following details:
Divorce or family breakdown can be very distressing for parents and children alike. Children need reassurance. They may be angry, confused and worried but it is important to stay calm when talking to them about your split. Focus on the positives and on the future. Give them things to look forward to. Remember the golden rules: never disparage their other parent(s) in front of them and don’t seek to use them as weapons during your separation or divorce.
Ultimately, you are no doubt going through an extremely tough time yourself, so do consider whether you could benefit from some external help. Your children could benefit from children and young people’s counselling.
Preferably, together. It can be a moment that you’ve dreaded for a long time but, if possible, it is useful to take one final united stance and tell your children your separating together. We realise that sometimes that just isn’t possible but you could also try to agree what you will say to the children, even if you’re saying to them separately.
Regardless, you will know your children better than anyone else, so strike an appropriate balance based on their age(s) and level of development but avoid overloading them with information they don’t need to know. Reassure and comfort them, letting them know that you’ll both always be there to support them.
The first thing to note is that the term “custody” doesn’t exist in England & Wales, it is more an American concept. We refer to ‘Child Arrangements’, this refers to where a child lives and how often they see the other parent
A child’s welfare is paramount and, whilst the courts would much rather you as parents agree on any decisions regarding arrangements for your child’s care, any decision the court is forced to make about where a child will live and who they spend time with will be determined based on whatever is in the child or children’s best interests. What is in the best interests of children in one family may not be in the best interests of children of another family. There is no one size fits all.
For an application where one spouse filed the divorce application it is as follows.
The process is slightly different if you and your spouse agree to file a joint application for divorce. Although the conditional order and final order stages are the same, the court doesn’t require the second applicant to complete an acknowledgement of service form. Instead, the second respondent needs to confirm that they have received the notice sent by the court.
If you are sorting out finances with your spouse alongside the divorce (which is recommended), solicitors may advise that you do not apply for a final order until a final financial order is agreed. This is because divorce terminates marriage and means that, if your spouse were to die before a financial order was made but after you had terminated your marriage, you would no longer be entitled to all of the benefits that you otherwise would be as their existing spouse.
You have sat down with your soon-to-be-ex and looked at your finances together. You agreed what should be done about the savings, the debts and the house, so why does it seem to take an age and significant expenditure on legal fees to make that agreement legally-binding?
How long is a piece of string? Honestly, it really does depend on a number of factors:
If we are calling a spade a spade and being realistic, it can take an average of 18 months!
You can check this very easily using the Child Maintenance Service calculator. Before you go onto the calculator, you’ll need the following details for your child’s other mother or father:
In just a few decades, moving in together as a couple without getting married has gone from a rarity to ordinary, everyday and entirely unexceptional. The only couples now likely rush straight into marriage in western countries are those from a very traditional or religious background.
How long is a piece of string? If your divorce is very straightforward and you and your husband or wife agree on everything, then you may be able to represent yourself in divorce proceedings. If this is the case, then you may only need to pay the court fee of £550. If your spouse instructs a solicitor, you may wish to do the same to ensure that you have what we call equality of arms – the opportunity to be represented to the same degree as your husband or wife. Costs do go up if instructing a solicitor but sometimes it is a price worth paying. Only you can decide.
Are there any fixed price or fixed-fee options? Some solicitors do offer fixed price (fixed-fee) packages for divorce because it can be a straightforward process. You can always speak to a specialist divorce and family lawyer offering a free initial consultation and fixed-fee divorce package to find out more.
Positive communication and negotiation between separating parties is important where possible. The more agreement and cooperation there is, the more straightforward and less expensive the process will be.
Are there any fixed price or fixed-fee options? Every law firm adopts a different pricing structures, so speak to a solicitor to find out more about the options they offer.
Wrong question. Better question: what is in the best interests of my children? Remember, ultimately, if your ex has parental responsibility over your child, poses no risk of harm to them and has demonstrated themselves as a capable parent, it will usually be deemed in the children’s best interests to spend time with them. How often can be a tricky thing to determine in the absence of agreement so you may wish to get advice on your specific circumstances.
Completely amicable, mutual agreed separations do occur, of course, but they are the exception rather than the rule. For most couples, the end of the relationship is triggered by some form of conflict, some disagreement, argument or falling-out. Perfectly normal and perhaps inevitable. It is how these disagreements are handled that makes all the difference. Outrage and acrimony will not only make the split a more stressful and unpleasant experience, it will leave lifelong scars on one group of particularly vulnerable bystanders: children.
To get a divorce or get a dissolution in England or Wales, you have to have been married or in a civil partnership for one year or more.
This is up to you but pay attention to any financial orders between you and your former spouse. Certain types of financial provision, for example spousal maintenance, will come to an end on your remarriage.
Far too often, grandparents end up becoming optional extras in 21st Century family life. Occasional visits may be pleasant and cosy– but they do not otherwise play a central role, and should the family divorce or separate, Grandma and Grandad may quickly become an inconvenience relegated to the sidelines, struggling to spend any time at all with their beloved grandchildren. Heartbreaking for them and confusing and upsetting for the youngsters themselves, who may have had warm relationships with Granny and Grandpa before the breakdown.
Most grandparents cherish spending time with their grandchildren. They are a source of delight and joy and reassurance, a sense that you have left a legacy in the world. What’s more, all that youthful zest and joie de vivre is a great tonic for the aches and pains of one’s later years.
For most children, the news that their parents are getting divorced comes as an unhappy shock. It means disruption, uncertainty and permanent change. If the other parent has already moved out it also means an end to any hopes the child may have harboured about their parents getting back together.
If you are married or in a Civil Partnership then you and your spouse have legal rights, duties and responsibilities in respect of one another. The process that determines the way in which your property and other financial assets are divided is known as financial remedy. It is a separate process to that of divorce.
Although you won’t always have to go to court and a lot of cases settle outside of a court environment, it’s important to reference what a court would do because ultimately, if you can’t agree, that’s where you’re both headed. A court would aim to achieve a fair split of the assets. Fairness in light of all of the circumstances of the case giving first consideration to the welfare of any children.
Pensions are a complex area of family law. Pensions are tax efficient investment vehicles designed to produce income and maybe some capital, during your retirement. Sometimes, the valuations you are given in respect of your pension are poor reflections of the benefits that your pensions scheme will actually provide you. Pensions can be the biggest asset after the family home. It’s therefore very important that you and your spouse seek independent financial advice from a specialist pension on divorce expert who is experienced in this area to give you advice.
Broadly speaking there are a few ways in which the court would deal with your pension(s):
When you share out the assets that you own between you to get a financial deal, literally everything that could be regarded as a resource…
The phrase ‘child abduction’ strikes fear into the heart of every parent, conjuring up frightening images of lurking predators. But statistically speaking, the people most likely to abduct children are their own parents – and by a considerable margin.
Living together is now so common that any couple rushing straight into marriage is likely to raise eyebrows or be suspected of conservative religious views.
If you cannot afford to carry on making maintenance payments, then you will need to get the order varied. This can either be done by…
When you say something is ‘going to court’ you can mean one of a number of things: attending a court hearing and showing your face…
If you’re unsure whether the finality of divorce is really what you want or if you need help to come to terms with your separation and the end of your marriage, we recommend you first speak in confidence with a relationship counsellor who can work with you to help you to deal with what has happened and how to move on. If you have children, a relationship counsellor can help you to support your children with what is happening. Relate are an organisation that have experience in counselling people from different backgrounds, including LGBT individuals and couples, so they can be a good place to start when looking for relationship counselling.
If you are experiencing a relationship breakdown, you will probably have a lot of questions about the legal process of divorce, alternatives to divorce, information surrounding making arrangements for your children and splitting your finances.
Whilst the divorce process itself is administrative, the issues surrounding splitting up and ending your marriage are often more complex and need to be dealt with sympathetically, fairly, and efficiently. Getting advice or reviewing our guides early is crucial in helping you know what to expect so you can plan for the journey.
Does secrecy matter? People are naturally curious, nosy even, and that curiosity extends to anything that is hidden: the ‘occult’ is so called because it…
The needs generated by disability have two components: children law for their welfare needs and finance law regarding money-related matters. What about the welfare of…
The simple answer to that is ‘Yes’ if you have a formalised relationship such as marriage. If you do not have a formalised the relationship…
Being ‘sick and tired of’ somebody is outside the scope of this piece, but the impact of unhappiness and stress can affect health in a negative way, in contrast to studies that have found that enduring marriage can positively affect longevity, particularly of men. That is a topic for medical or sociological musings, but whatever the cause of health issues, most are not going to go away simply because people have separated.
We have brought together a number of questions that have recently arisen in requests for advice or needed to be explored in cases to illustrate the approach to health in family law.
Interim maintenance is temporary maintenance paid prior to the completion of a divorce in cases of financial hardship.
It can be – but not in every circumstance. Dividing a couple’s money, property and other assets is a dispiriting but very necessary process when a marriage breaks down. The division enables both spouses to move on from the heartache of divorce and build new futures for themselves elsewhere.
In most cases, but not always! There are two aspects to ending a marriage: ending the legal union and dividing a couple’s assets (e.g., money, property) fairly. The first is a purely bureaucratic process involving the completion and submission of a sequence of forms. It is relatively straightforward and can now be done entirely online. Most people do not require any help to finish this process and end their marriages.
If a couple decides their marriage is over, they will need to complete two processes: ending the marriage itself and dividing their assets and financial liabilities. These are separate but often confused. Most people now complete the first process entirely online without a solicitor, and it is also possible to reach a mutual, private agreement with your soon-to-be ex over the division of money and property, along with, for example:
You and your husband or wife could always agree that if one of you moves out, you share the costs of your mortgage and any rental. If you can live with friends or family, that could be an option for savings costs. If you have relied on your spouse for financial support during your marriage and you suddenly find yourself unable to meet yours and your children’s essential interim needs, then you may be able to ask for maintenance pending suit (“MPS”). If you are in a predicament of real need and your spouse can afford to meet the shortfall between your income and reasonable outgoings, then your spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance pending suit until the overall financial matters are resolved.
You will only be able to apply for MPS either when or after a divorce application is filed at court.
MPS is known as an order pending the outcome of proceedings in a Civil Partnership context.
Moving in with your partner seems like a very sensible idea. You find out just what they’re like to live with on a daily basis without all the intimidating formalities of marriage. But the situation may be more complicated than you think.
Joanne is an extremely well-regarded family lawyer whose knowledge of the law coupled with her business acumen and emotional intelligence make her a force to be reckoned with. With 25 years’ experience under her belt she is one of the most sought after and prominent finance family lawyers. Her national profile is unmatched against the peers in her region which is largely due to Joanne’s personal drive for innovation. Joanne is listed in the Hall of Fame of the latest edition of The Legal 500, as an expert in the fields of divorce and financial settlement.
Under the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, both partners can apply for a divorce together, there is no need for one partner to ‘divorce the other’.
Jonathan is particularly renowned for his skill in handling matters relating to clients of a high net worth, including media personalities, professional sportsmen and women and prominent members of the business community. He specialises in matters involving complex financial and business issues. Jonathan prides himself on his ability to provide practical and cost-effective advice and is a long-time proponent of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Jonathan is listed in the Legal 500 as a Recommended Lawyer.
Judicial separation is a rarely used form of legal separation in which an estranged couple remain formally married to each other, but they are able to legally resolve most financial matters between them. Couples who have a religious objection to divorce may apply for this. If a couple is within the first year of marriage and their relationship breaks down, they may choose to go through a Judicial Separation as they can’t divorce in this period.
Jurisdiction is the legal authority of the courts and judges in a particular country, under the laws in place there.
Katie qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and has specialised in family law since then. Resolving all aspects relating to the arrangements for children after separation is a significant part of Katie’s practice, particularly cases where the issues are complex, and she also specialises in the financial aspects of relationship breakdown, including divorce and cohabitation cases. She is adept at finding creative ways to solve legal obstacles, and is recognised for her empathy and ability to deal with challenging situations. Katie is known for her conciliatory, constructive approach and desire to settle cases where possible.
Laura founded Family Mediation North East (now Pax Mediation) with 3 colleagues in 2012. She holds the highest level of family mediation accreditation (FMCA) and has been working as an accredited family mediator since 2007. Laura is a Resolution trained Family Consultant in the Collaborative Law process and is registered with the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and a member of the Family Mediators Association (FMA).
Leave to remove means that a family court has granted a parent permission to take a child or children outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales – i.e. to another country.
Lewis practises in all areas of family law but has particular experience in matrimonial finance, including property, pension and family business issues. His skill at turning amicable agreements into binding settlements without damaging what can be a fragile peace between separating people is recognised by his colleagues as a particular strength. He also has experience of trans-national finance, multi-jurisdictional divorce and children cases. Lewis also advises on TOLATA claims between unmarried couples which can run alongside Schedule 1 proceedings when there are children. In the Legal 500, Lewis is listed as being known for being straight-talking and extremely perceptive.
A litigant in person is someone who takes part in legal proceedings without representation by a lawyer. This is normally done for financial reasons.
After working as a family lawyer for 11 years, Louisa shifted her focus to family mediation. Louisa found that her expertise in communications, understanding separating couples’ needs, as well as her ability to empathise were better suited to this approach to separation. Louisa’s approach to mediation is tailored to the couples themselves. What makes Louisa unique is her connection to spirituality. Being a Reiki and yoga practitioner in her personal life has helped Louisa to be more in-tuned with her clients’ needs during mediation.
Lucinda advises on all aspects of family law including divorce, separation and preparing pre and post nuptial agreements. Lucinda is listed in the Legal 500 as a Recommended Lawyer. Much of Lucinda’s work involves business interests, complex asset valuations and high value pensions. She is also an extremely experienced practitioner in children matters, dealing regularly with residence and contact arrangements and the relocation of children, both within the UK and overseas. She is recognised for her pragmatism and her judgement, honed over 20 years of experience of dealing with varied and challenging matters.
Lucy is a solicitor and partner at The International Family Law Group, handling complex international divorce and finance cases. She works closely with the Greek and Cypriot community. She gives lectures in England and abroad. She deals with complex assets including trusts and companies.
A lump sum is a single payment made in settlement of a financial claim in divorce.
Maintenance is the payment of money on an ongoing basis following a divorce or separation. This may be child maintenance, to support the upkeep of children, or spousal maintenance. The latter is paid following divorce when there is good reason to believe the recipient will have difficulty supporting themselves.
Maintenance pending suit, also known as interim maintenance, is provisional maintenance sometimes paid by the wealthier spouse before the completion of a divorce if their estranged partner is experiencing financial difficulties.
Major Family Law has been nominated for two awards in the prestigious national LexisNexis Family Law Awards 2023.
The boutique law firm is a contender for:
The marital home is the property in which a couple live.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is the principal piece of legislation concerning marriage and divorce in England and Wales.
Matrimonial home rights entitle a divorcing spouse to remain in the couple’s home even if the property is owned by their soon-to-be-ex husband or wife. This right is granted by the Family Law Act 1996.
A McKenzie Friend is an informal courtroom advisor. They are not normally legally qualified.
Mediation is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator helps a divorcing couple to work out the arrangements for children and finances following separation. A mediator can facilitate settlement discussions, but cannot give legal advice because they are not qualified lawyers.
A MIAM is a meeting at which a divorce couple are introduced to the possibilities presented by mediation and consider whether it would be suitable for their own case.
Michael is a solicitor and partner at The International Family Law Group, handling complex international divorce and finance cases. He has distinctive specialisation in cases involving pensions and where orders have already been made abroad along with enforcement of existing orders. He is a regular author of articles concerning international cases
In the third episode of the series, Joanne Major hears from “Kate” about her experience of moving to Spain with her new partner and the…
As with a lot of legal questions, there are only a few definite answers and many ‘it depends’ responses to issues within the scope of…
You can get more than 50%, but it is unlikely that this will happen for that reason alone. While the court will consider the contributions…
With it being so difficult to save for a deposit when renting, parents often take pity of their children and provide the balance of what is needed to step onto that first rung on the property ladder.
Emotions can run high during divorce, especially if the decision to separate and end things was not a mutual one. A spouse who feels betrayed or abandoned may not feel very inclined to co-operate with the form-filing legalities of divorce.
In short, yes they can. The fact that you pay the mortgage does not give you the right to require your spouse to leave the…
A non-molestation order is a type of injunction forbidding the subject from contacting, approaching, or harassing the person to which the order was granted. They are typically sought by victims of domestic violence or abuse.
When applied to marriage, the legal concept of nullity means that no legally valid marriage took place, even if a ceremony was conducted.
An occupation order is an injunction which grants one party to a marriage exclusive rights to enter and live in the family home. The other spouse is obliged to leave. Typically, these are granted in cases of alleged domestic abuse.
In family law, an offer is a proposed financial settlement which the other party can accept or reject.
Oliver holds the highest level of family mediation accreditation (FMCA) and has been working as an accredited family mediator since 2021, having joined the company in 2017. He is a law graduate from Durham University and has previously worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the listening service, NightLine. He is both registered with the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and a member of the Family Mediators Association (FMA).
Civil partnerships formed between opposite sex couples continue to comfortably outnumber those formed by same sex couples, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Orders for sale are sometimes granted by the family courts when joint owners of a property cannot agree on a sale – for example, during a divorce. This enables the party granted the order to acquire the financial value of their share.
The OurFamilyWizard website and app offers divorced or separated parents a collection of tools to easily schedule parental responsibility and share important family information, manage expenses and create an accurate, clear record of co-parenting communication. OurFamilyWizard has been routinely court ordered in the UK and is recommended on a daily basis by family law practitioners. OurFamilyWizard offers complimentary accounts for families in financial hardship as well as discounts for any active or retired members of the Armed Forces.
Parental responsibility is the legal status of being a parent. It entitles the holder to a say in significant issues concerning the child, such as their education or health, even if they do not live with the child on a day-to-day basis.
Pension attachment orders are issued by the family court to the trustees of a pension requiring them to pay a proportion of the pension to a former spouse or partner.
Pension offsetting is the process by which the right to receive a present or future pension benefit is exchanged for capital now. This can be preferable where one party wishes to retain their pension intact and the other would prefer capital instead of pension benefits. This arrangement can be complex to calculate fairly as pensions are complex. The advice of a solicitor or specialist lawyer should be taken as well as the advice of a pension on divorce expert.
Periodical payments are money paid on a regular basis by the wealthier party in a marriage to their estranged or former spouse for their own use or to support the couple’s children – i.e. spousal or child maintenance.
Philippa practised family and children law for 20 years before qualifying as a mediator in 2012. She secured Family Mediation Council Accreditation in 2015 and subsequently completed the training to conduct Child Inclusive Mediation. Philippa is also qualified in Hybrid Method Family Mediation. She has in depth and first-hand experience of the family legal process and of alternative methods of dispute resolution and she is committed to helping people find their own constructive solutions to family law issues of all kinds.
A prenuptial agreement is a formal agreement signed by a couple prior to marriage. It will concern aspects of the marriage and what would happen in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement is not binding, though the court may it into account, especially if certain conditions have been met: for example, if both parties received independent legal advice before signing.
The term proceedings refers to the different stages of a legal case or process.
A prohibited steps order is a legal order formally forbidding the recipient from taking a particular course of action – for example, taking a child abroad.
A property adjustment order is a legal order sometimes issued by the family courts to change or transfer the ownership of property.
In family law, questionnaires are requests for further information about certain assets which are issued in pursuit of a financial settlement.
Residence refers to where a child or children will live on a day-to-day basis following divorce or separation. It was formerly known as custody.
In the situation of a sole divorce application, the respondent is the spouse of the applicant – the person who initially files a divorce application.
Rona’s expertise lies in advising on matrimonial finances and has helped numerous clients achieve the positive resolution of divorces and separations dealing with the division of assets deriving from pensions, businesses, trusts and inherited wealth, at court and through negotiations and roundtable meetings, depending on the respective parties’ needs and wishes. As a parent, Rona understands the impact divorce and separation can have on the parties’ children and emphasises the need to reach solutions which benefits them, inside or outside the Court process. Rona is accredited by The Law Society as a Family Specialist and a member of Resolution as a trained collaborative lawyer.
This episode of Splitting Up dot pod hears the story of love after loss and the importance of good advice when it comes to wills…
Sahil is an experienced and approachable family solicitor originally from Newcastle. He works on all family matters involving divorce, financial relief, nuptial agreements, domestic abuse and child arrangements. Sahil has had specialist training and experience in advocacy at Court such as representing a client’s in complex children disputes. He also has specific experience advising same-sex couples. Sahil recognises the sensitive and attentive approach needed when undertaking family matters. He always strives to build a strong, supportive and professional relationship with all his clients. Sahil is listed by The Legal 500 as a Recommended Lawyer.
Sally is very aware of how challenging separation can be particularly where there are children involved. Her personal experiences, as well as her 18 years of legal experience as a solicitor and mediator, equips her with skills to help parties through the most challenging of times. Sally sits on the Family Mediators Association Board and actively promotes mediation across the region and nationally. She also works as an accredited Civil and Commercial and Work Place mediator alongside her family practice.
Sam is a confident, experienced and affable family law solicitor. Sam has demonstrated consistent case success-es, both in court proceedings and through out of court negotiations. He deals with more complex children matters and regularly advises and represents parents involved in international disputes regarding which country their child should live in or visit. Sam conducts his own advocacy at court wherever possible, which allows him to provide consistent and specialist representation to clients throughout their case. Sam is listed in the Legal 500 as a Rising Star and a Recommended Lawyer.
Sam is a qualified coach and counsellor who supports individuals who are going through a divorce or separation. Based at her counselling room in Gosforth in Newcastle, Sam offers a pluralistic approach to counselling and coaching and provides 1-1 support either in person or via Zoom.
She provides individual counselling sessions, or a 4-week coaching programme called Confident Solo specifically aimed at increasing your confidence and reducing negativity and overwhelm during this difficult time.
The Confident Solo programme, which includes 4 x 1-hour sessions, is designed to help you to:
Sam works with men, women and teenagers.
Sarah-Jane holds the highest level family mediation accreditation (FMCA) and has been working as an accredited family mediator since 2016. She holds an honours degree in Law and, through her work with Cafcass (Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service), she is experienced in working within private law proceedings. She is also a qualified mediation supervisor (Professional Practice Consultant).
This refers to section 25 of a key piece of marital legislation, the Marital Causes Act 1973. This lists a number of factors which the family courts should take into account when deciding on a fair financial settlement. These include the current and future income of both parties and the standard of living enjoyed by the couple while they were married.
Service refers to the formal delivery of documents launching legal proceedings to a person who will be involved in or affected by those proceedings.
Shared care is an arrangement made between divorced or separated parents to share day-to-day care of their children on a more or less equal basis.
Shirley is an experienced Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, Clinical Hypnotherapist and E.M.D.R. Practitioner. She works intergratively, using various therapeutic interventions, such as personal centred cognitive behaviour therapy, psychodynamic and solution focused talking therapy. Providing, short and long-term therapies to adults, students, teenagers and children, on a face-to-face basis as well as online Skype therapy / hypnotherapy.
A relocation to a different part of the country can be difficult and stressful at the best of times but it is always more complicated and challenging where there is a child involved, especially in families where the parents are separated and are no longer a couple.
Generally, the answer most likely will be ‘No’ – you should not spend your money before doing a deal in your separation and divorce. Reputable…
Being practical, the answer to that question is very often a firm YES!
Answers to problems can be found elsewhere, but if there is a Living Together Agreement, properly considered, well-drafted and comprehensively dealing with all the aspects that the couple care about, then there is more certainty and less worry about ‘What if…?’
If people plan to marry, then they can make their agreement a Pre-Nuptial (‘before marriage’) one and if money is being introduced into their lives from relatives, especially as loans, then the financial interests of the third party can be agreed in such an agreement, avoiding arguments about liability for repayment, terms of loan or gift and particularly avoiding them needing to participate in any dispute later on.
Silver Splitters are people who separate or divorce later in their lives, typically in their 50s or 60s and sometimes even in their 70s or…
Smart Divorce are a specialist niche financial planning company who work with those who are separating, divorcing, or dissolving a civil partnership. As well as working with individuals, we offer a financial neutral service to couples, which can be particularly useful in collaboration or mediation. Their focus is on helping her clients to gain clarity on their finances and help them to split amicably. They commonly work with the person who hasn’t looked after the money in their relationship.
A specific issue order is a court order concerning one particular family issue, typically matters concerning children.
The recent launch of SplttingUp.com by Major Family Law and its accompanying podcast has been highlighted in the Hexham Courant newspaper.
Stacy graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. She then went on to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law, Legal Practice Course and a Masters in Legal Practice, graduating with a Distinction in 2019. Stacy completed her Training Contract at a firm in Cumbria, before relocating back to the North East. Stacy’s main focus is achieving a positive outcome for her clients. She recognises that a sensitive and approachable manner is needed when undertaking family matters. Stacy has experience in dealing with matrimonial finances and children matters.
A statement of truth is a confirmation within a legal document that the person making the submission believes it to be true.
Talaq is a traditional form of divorce still used in some Muslim communities. It can only be initiated by the husband.
Tamsin Caine began Smart Divorce following her own experience with divorce; she now advises people in the same situation as she once was, enabling them to take back control of their life and finances. She is a Chartered Financial Planner and Resolution Accredited Divorce Specialist with over 20 years in the financial services profession. She also holds a level 2 accreditation in Recognising and Responding to Economic Abuse. Her focus is on helping her clients to gain clarity on their finances and help them to split amicably. She most often works with the person who hasn’t looked after the money in their relationship.
With all the doom and gloom that often surrounds separation, we start the first episode of 2023 with a story about a “good divorce” as…
UK Therapy Guide (UKTG ) was founded in response to the high demand for well trained and experienced therapists. UKTG provides a nationwide directory of highly qualified and verified therapists who are trained both ethically and professionally to a high standard. All UKTG members fulfil strict criteria; they are affiliated to the relevant governing body, fully insured and provide proof of qualifications as well as references. All UKTG members are also affiliated to the relevant governing bodies including the NCS, BPC, BACP BPC, UKC UKRCP, BCP, BABCP, amongst others.
An undertaking is a legally binding promise to the court to do a certain thing or follow a particular course of action. Sometimes an Undertaking is a promise not to do something.
Divorce is complicated and stressful and can even be a traumatic experience for some. But as far as the family courts are concerned, it is about one thing: the division of money, property and other assets. If you are married to your partner then you have a clear status in law which entitles you to a fair share of the total assets held by you and your spouse. The contributions made by each party to the marriage should be fully reflected in the settlement, even if those contributions were not financial.
Most people in England and Wales prefer to live together rather than enter into a more formal relationship like marriage or civil partnership.
The answer to this question is fact-specific and can be far from straightforward. The default position is that, if you usually live in England and Wales or you consider yourself to be domiciled in England and Wales, and your overseas marriage is valid in England and Wales, you should be able to divorce in England & Wales.
You can prove validity of marriage by producing a marriage certificate issued by the relevant authority in accordance with the marriage registration laws of the country in which you married.
This can be a complicated area of law, so we suggest that you speak to a specialist divorce and family lawyer.
Before we split up, we bought a house and we entered into a declaration of trust dealing with the ownership of the house. We never married and now my ex wants half the house. We agreed that they were only entitled to 30% of it and that is what the declaration of trust says. What now?
Firstly, you should pat yourself on the back for being sensible. A declaration of trust is one of the ways you can protect yourself when in a cohabiting relationship. The Declaration of Trust is a legally binding document which sets out the ownership of the property you bought together. The terms of that agreement should be followed, this means your ex should be entitled to 30%. If they want more they would need to go to court and apply (with a very good reason!) for more than 30%. It is very rare for the court to give someone more money than the declaration of trust says so this would only be successful in 1 case in a 1000.
If you cohabit with anyone else again, it might be a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement. This sets out the financial arrangements clearly so that if the relationship breaks down, you both know where you stand financially.
If you are married, then you and your husband or wife have legal rights, duties and responsibilities in respect of one another. People’s main concern when getting divorced is how they will cope financially and how the assets and debts of the relationship will be dealt with. The process that determines the way in which your property and other financial assets are divided is known as financial remedy. It is a separate process to that of divorce.
Although you won’t always have to go to court and a lot of cases settle outside of a court environment, it’s important to reference what a court would do because ultimately, if you can’t agree, that’s where you’re both headed. A court would aim to achieve a fair split of the assets. Fairness in light of all of the circumstances of the case giving first consideration to the welfare of any children. In deciding what is fair the court will consider:
There’s no set formula for how to assess fairness.
People live together as couples without anything formal in place for various reasons, this is called cohabitation. Without any legal relationship such as a marriage or civil-partnership in place, either of you are free to stay or go without having to go through any formal process. Unmarried couples often need to make arrangements regarding living situation, childcare and property.
Cohabitants have very different rights under family law when it comes to property and financial matters. Common law marriage is a myth. If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, the law on property rights and financial settlements on separation is completely different. There is no legal requirement for cohabitants to be ‘fair’ when the relationship breaks down. By way of example, if you owned the property that you and your partner had lived in for the last 10 years in your sole name and you had no children together, your partner would have no legal claims against your property whatsoever. As there’s no contract of marriage in place and you don’t have any children, neither of you has any legal rights, responsibilities or duties in respect of the other person. Owning property in joint names and having children changes this position.
We deal with children issues elsewhere and the most important thing to know is that married parents, mothers and some fathers have Parental Responsibility as a matter of law. That does not apply to children of the other partner and legal responsibility does not extend to parents’ partners, so without something in place, a parent-figure might have no legal standing.
Have a look at our section on children.
This is a complicated issue beyond the information we can provide here, but the particular circumstances of a family can be relevant to inheritance issues. In the absence of a Will, the laws of intestacy apply and the rights of a person only ‘living with’ somebody depend on property law, inheritance law and the terms of pension schemes and policies.
Rather than risk that lottery, it is usually better for couples living together to make Wills to say what should happen if they die.
Despite several myths circulating regarding fathers have less rights over their children than mothers, if you already have parental responsibility as a father, then each of you will start on an equal footing. The welfare of your children will be the paramount consideration. This is known as the welfare principle. In deciding what arrangements are in your children’s best interests, checklist of actors must be considered including:
Unless you are a risk of harm to your children then it is unlikely that a court would prevent you spending time with them.
Unfortunately, you don’t have many. Moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend is now so commonplace that we no longer even notice it. Marriage has become an optional extra: a formal, public declaration of commitment that the couple may eventually welcome – but not just yet!
If you have been married for more than one year, live in England and Wales and your marriage is recognised as valid in England & Wales, then you will be able to get a divorce provided you can evidence that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Your rights will differ depending on whether you mean your rights regarding children, property or other finances.
As a divorced person, you have the right to change your name back to your birth name, if you chose to change it on marriage.
It is no longer necessary to cite a reason or attribute blame when applying for divorce. Now you need only make a formal declaration that your marriage has broken down, and you can do so jointly with your former spouse if you wish.
You will also need to provide the court with your original marriage certificate (photocopies will not suffice). If your original marriage certificate is not in English, it will need to be translated.
You may go through a long and stressful court case to get a Child Arrangements Order setting out your contact time with your child, but what happens if your ex does not comply with the Judge’s order? Sadly, this can happen, and it is something which clients often ask me to help with. Children law expert Sam Carter of Major Family Law discusses this issue.
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the issue of parental alienation. This term refers to situations in which, following divorce or separation, one parent attempts to prevent the other from seeing the children, out of jealousy, resentment or a simple wish to hurt their ex. The concerns expressed seem wholly justified – alienation can seriously damage the relationship between parent and child, and have a lifelong impact.
Your original marriage certificate or a court certified copy, this isn’t a photocopy. If your spouse no longer lives with you then you will need an email address for them and a postal address where they can receive paperwork.
Although you do not need these documents for the divorce itself, it is worth starting to collate your financial documents. See finances.
Quite a few. A good starting place is the court document known as the Form E (Financial Statement). The Form E asks you for various pieces of information with documentary evidence in support. It will alert you to the information needed, for example, equity in any properties in your name, savings and pensions.
‘Cohabitation’ is a word that frequently appears in articles about family life in the 21st Century. Strictly speaking the term has no precise legal definition in the UK, and can refer to any number of unrelated individuals living in the same household – but in normal usage the word almost always refers to couples who live together and share a home without formalising the relationship in by getting married or entering a civil partnership.
Things will inevitably become more expensive and sometimes more acrimonious, but this can sometimes be the only way certain couple’s can resolve matters. Remember you can continue negotiating and trying to reach a settlement during contested proceedings but you have the safety net of knowing that there will be an end date to your back and forth when the court will make a final financial remedy order that they consider to be fair in light of all of the circumstances of your case.
The court timetable will usually look something like this:
If a parent loses their partner or spouse, it will probably make them think about their own mortality and their relationship with their children –…
That’s tricky. If you haven’t already, you could try mediation, collaborative law or arbitration. Be honest with yourself as to why you don’t think negotiations are getting anywhere. Is your spouse being obstructive? Are you being difficult? Are either of you not ready to move on? Could you use counselling? Is there a particular asset that either you or your spouse don’t want to let go of despite it being fair to do so? Do you need legal advice or representation? Do you need to issue formal proceedings to be taken seriously?
In most cases they will not be able to do so without your permission – provided you hold ‘parental responsibility’: the legal status of being a parent.
Parental responsibility confers the right to a say in important decisions concerning the child’s welfare: for example, the schools they attend or any medical treatment they receive. This right continues after any divorce or separation.
You and your spouse have a duty to disclose all of your assets in a manner that is full, frank and transparent. The court wants you to put all of your cards on the table.
You will usually disclose your financial information using the Form E. Following financial disclosure by way of Forms E, you and your husband or wife are able to raise questions of each other’s disclosure by drafting a questionnaire. You both need to reply to each other’s questions as far as they are proportionate and this usually is an effective way to locate hidden assets. A court can also be asked to order that a party discloses specific information and documentation.
If your matter is more complicated than first meets the eye, then it is always worth considering whether to instruct a forensic accountant to review your husband or wife’s disclosure. Ultimately, if it is found that your husband or wife deliberately hid assets during financial negotiations, the consequences can be severe:
Civil partnerships have been an option open to opposite sex couples since December 2019. That’s very recent, and it is no surprise to discover that they remain very much a minority choice: in 2021, the most recent year for which figures are available from the Office for National Statistics reports that just 6,131 opposite sex civil partnerships were formed, compared to the several hundred thousand opposite sex marriages formed ever year.
Do I get more money we hear you say? The answer to this depends on a few variables: has the final order of divorce been pronounced as yet? Did your husband or wife leave a will?
Family law solicitors will usually recommend that you do not apply for the final order of divorce until overall financial matters have been resolved by way of a final financial remedy order. If you or your spouse has a pension, you would benefit from a widow or widower’s pension in the event that either of you die before the final order of divorce is made (before your marriage is terminated).
When the final order of divorce is pronounced, you are no longer married to each other and so neither of you will benefit from any widow or widower’s pension or various other financial benefits that you would ordinarily receive as a result of your status as a spouse.
Divorce is a life altering event and so people should consider changing their will or creating a will in contemplation of divorce. If your spouse has left a will that leaves you with nothing, you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This is not the most straightforward area of law, so get some advice.
We put that as part of ‘Should we have an agreement?’ because the agreement can govern the arrangements and provide greater certainty, even if people are happily or tolerably, living together. Agreements are not simply to say what should happen if people separate, but that is a useful aspect that can be brought in. Who lives where and what happens about – a sale or buy-out can be dealt with in a Living Together Agreement. Many of the provisions would follow on from ownership, financial and practical issues considered for inclusion.
‘A stich in time, saves nine’ and thinking about arrangements before things go wrong may even help that not happening. If somebody shows themselves to be selfish and unreasonable when discussing arrangements for living together, it serves as a warning that may save a broken heart and/or financial disaster later on. Often people are deflected by an appeal to ‘trust me’ but a little evidence of trustworthiness, such as reasoned discussion before commencing cohabitation can make that easier.
We trust that answers at least some of your questions and sets your thinking on a productive track.
Taking the second question first, Yes – ‘Spousal support’ is the more modern expression for ‘maintenance’ and better describes payments made from one party to…
This article has been kindly provided by The Money Partnership.
Prior to April 2022, family law required applicants for divorce to cite one of five reasons for the end of the marriage. A number of these required attributing blame to the other spouse – effectively declaring that the divorce was their fault. Lawyers and campaigners argued for years that this encouraged unnecessary acrimony during an already emotional time.
The law has now changed. Under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, applicants now need only make a formal declare that their marriage has broken down, and this declaration can be made jointly with their spouse if they wish. Because it is no longer necessary to attribute blame, the new legislation is often referred to as ‘no fault divorce’.
This is a welcome reform that will allow most couples to make the first steps in their separation as amicable as possible and end the old blame game.
A Parenting Plan is an agreement between parents (and sometimes other family members) that outlines the arrangements for co-parenting and the responsibilities of each parent…
This is a document which sets out what money each party with exit the marriage or civil partnership with if the relationship breaks down. The document usually deals with property, pensions, maintenance and savings. It may also deal with other things like pets, jewellery and personal possessions. These types of agreement aren’t binding in the courts of England and Wales but they can be highly persuasive if they are seen to be fair at the time the parties split up.
Ideally both parties would enter into the agreement more than six weeks before their wedding or civil partnership takes place. It is ideal, but not mandatory for each party to take specialist legal advice from a family solicitor or barrister.
The more evidence there is that the parties both understood the terms of the agreement they signed, the more likely the courts will be persuaded to put into effect the terms of the agreement.
Marriage is a legal relationship; a contract between spouses. Divorce is the legal process that terminates a marriage. It’s not a step to take lightly but, if there are no complicating factors, then the divorce process itself is largely administrative and straightforward.
It’s important to remember that the process of terminating your marriage is separate to the process that determines who gets the house or other financial assets (the finances).
If you’ve decided that you want to separate from your spouse you might be thinking “what’s the best way to formally end my relationship?” Divorce is one option but there are alternatives to divorce that might suit your circumstances a little more.
It is fairness in light of all of the circumstances of the case giving first consideration to the welfare of any children. In deciding what is fair the court will consider:
There’s no set formula for how to assess fairness. It’s important to seek advice regarding your specific circumstances.
Parental responsibility, sometimes abbreviated to “PR”, embodies all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which (by law) a parent has in relation to their children and the children’s property. It gives you rights and responsibilities when bringing up children, making decisions for children and caring for children.
Having parental responsibility gives you responsibility for important decisions about a child’s welfare such as education, religion and medical care and also over ordinary day-to-day decisions such as nutrition and recreation.
Parental responsibility is important because holders of it are afforded legal status under the Children Act 1989. The Children Act 1989 is the main piece of legislation governing the way in which children are cared for during family breakdown.
What are my rights as a mother? What are my rights as a father? This depends on your circumstances.
Both parents have a duty to look after their children. The law doesn’t specify how much time a child spends with each parent. The parents are expected to make their own arrangements regarding where children live, how often they see the other parent and how major life decisions are handled by them. Often, i can help if the parents agree a parenting plan with each other. A mediator or solicitor can help the parents agree a parenting plan if they need help.
Encourage them to seek help from one of the many substance abuse services available. These range from those based around weekly meetings to full-time residential care for those with the most serious addictions (often referred to as ‘detox’). A good place to begin this difficult but ultimately rewarding journey would be an appointment with your partner’s GP.
The break-up of a settled relationship of whatever nature represents a big change in circumstances and whether it has been considered for a while or…
Depending on your background knowledge and experience of life, you might think this was either an impossible or easy question to put to a solicitor when you are asking about splitting up. Here we discuss the influencing factors.
Whether you opt to send an email, pick up the phone or make an in-person appointment, getting in touch with a divorce solicitor for the first time can be a difficult step to take. It means admitting that your marriage is in trouble, if not already over.
You’ve come to the difficult realisation that your marriage is over. It may be something you’ve been mulling over for weeks – or perhaps it’s something you’ve only just been able to admit to yourself. But once you have reached that point, where do you go next?
When parents separate, decisions must be made quickly about where, and with whom, the children should live.
If you are represented then ask your solicitor for any forms or links. If you are unrepresented or undecided, then you can find court forms on the .gov website. You might need the name of the form you’re searching for to find the right document. For example, instead of searching for a divorce application, you would search for a form D8.
In this first episode of Splitting Up Dot Pod we hear Mandy’s separation story. For year Mandy suffered mental torture and financial abuse before the…
This is a decision that could be made between you both as parents without needing any external input. The court believed that the parties best placed to make important decisions about children’s wellbeing are their parents. If you can’t agree then you could try mediation or speaking to a specialist children and family lawyer. The considerations that you, a mediator, a family law solicitor and a court should take into account when guiding you on this question are the same: what arrangements would be in the best interests of your children and why? It’s important to remember that children thrive off routine, but that in and of itself is not a reason to exclude the other parent from a child’s life.
Who gets the cat or dog? It depends. It might seem strange that we’re talking about this under finances but, yes, a pet is considered an asset when you divorce. The same principles that apply when dividing your capital and income, will apply when deciding who gets your pet.
This isn’t as obvious an answer as you might think.
A mother automatically acquires parental responsibility on birth of a child.
A father who is married to the mother of a child at the time of the child’s birth also automatically acquires parental responsibility.
An unmarried father does not automatically acquire parental responsibility. If you are an unmarried father, you can acquire (or may have already acquired) parental responsibility in one of six ways: (a) by being registered as a child’s father on their birth certificate, (b) by entering into a parental responsibility agreement, (c) by applying to the court for a parental responsibility order, (d) by being appointed as a guardian over a child on the death of their mother, (e) if a child arrangements order is made in your favour or (f) if you marry your child’s mother.
Step-parents, (a person married/civil partners with one of the child’s natural parents) can obtain parental responsibility either by (a) obtaining a parental responsibility agreement (provided that any people who currently have parental responsibility over the child or children allow you to) and (b) if they don’t, by obtaining a parental responsibility order from the court.
If a parent is cohabiting with another person, that person isn’t considered to be a ‘Step-parent’ and so can’t apply for a parental responsibility order although they may be able to acquire it if a child arrangements order is made which states that the child should live with the cohabiting parent.
This is a big topic, but with informal living together arrangements, property law decides who owns what, so it is vitally important that ownership is properly recorded when a property is purchased. Often property lawyers, don’t like to ask to many questions and often only want to know about auto-inheritance on death which determines whether they register it is as ‘beneficial joint tenancy’ (survivor inherits) or a ‘tenancy in common’ (no automatic inheritance). The Land Registry proprietorship register says who owns the property and many people expect that the money they contributed or was given/borrowed from families will be respected, but that cannot be presumed.
Belongings are called ‘chattels’ in law and courts are very reluctant to spend time deciding on such things. There is established law about objects and rights, but arguing or taking it to court is rarely productive. Far better to have decided the principles to be applied before people split up.
Child maintenance is paid by a parent who does not spend a set amount of time looking after their children (the paying parent).
This depends on your individual circumstances, as well as those of your spouse. Quantifying these costs outside of the mandatory court filing fee can be tricky. Remember, you can always negotiate or compromise on a figure and communicate that with each other or, if you are represented, your solicitors.
Your fees for financial matters or issues relating to your children are a separate consideration.
Often people develop habits about how finances are run without much discussion or agreement. People have contracts with providers and the businesses get paid. It is between the people involved in the contract, unless there is some other law that applies, such as for Council Tax.
Far better to talk about such things and agree.
It can. It’s important to remember that until the final order of divorce is pronounced in your case, you are still technically married. Serious new relationships can also impact upon the finances if your new partner lives with you or contributes to your household finances.
Serious new relationships during divorce can impact upon financial negotiations and settlements. Serious new relationships after divorce can impact on the financial provision that you’re receiving from your former spouse. During financial proceedings you’ll be asked about your intentions when it comes to cohabiting or remarrying a new partner. You have to be honest about those intentions.
If you’re considering ending your marriage, you may be concerned about supporting yourself after the split: would you receive financial support from your former spouse after the dust has settled?
In most cases, no, it will not. Multinational marriages, with a bride and groom from different countries, are no longer the rarity they might once have been. But many people who have gone down this route worry about what will happen if that border-defying union breaks down and they start to consider divorce. They know marriage and divorce laws differ from country to country and it may not be at all clear to them how this will affect their own situation.
Sam Carter, child law specialist at Major Family Law provides his views on this question.
Without prejudice refers to offers or concessions by one party made during the preliminary negotiations in a family court case. If these are declared to be ‘without prejudice’, they cannot be cited or used against them during any subsequent proceedings. This measure is intended to encourage cases to be settled outside court.
The Confident Solo programme, which includes 4 x 1-hour sessions, is designed to help you to:
Sam works with men, women and teenagers.