Family Law

Our team of experts can advise and assist with whatever issues you face; whether you are separating from a spouse or partner or if you are starting a new relationship. We will discuss with you the options available and advise as to the most appropriate way to deal with your issues.

How can we help you?

We understand that the prospect of divorce or separation is extremely daunting and therefore it is important that you seek professional advice as soon as you can.

We at GoodyBurrett LLP can give married people advice about the divorce procedure and the financial implications of divorcing.

For those who are unmarried we can advise you about the law relating to cohabiting couples and the ownership of property. We can also give you advice about protecting your property and how to help you make arrangements for your children.

The Family Team at GoodyBurrett LLP will be happy to advise you regarding any matters that you would like to discuss and it is easy to make an appointment to see us at our office which is conveniently located in the town centre. We understand that for some it can be difficult to see a Solicitor, particularly if you have work commitments or young children. We are therefore open on a Saturday morning between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm in addition to our usual office hours.

We also understand that the financial pressures on most people caused by the current financial climate can also be a reason to put off seeking professional advice. We therefore offer a reduced rate fixed fee initial appointment during which we can usually advise you about your case, the preliminary steps which should be taken and how much your case will cost. We are also able to offer a fixed fee service for dealing with divorce proceedings. We also public funding for all of those eligible.

Please see below a few of the services we offer.  If something you need help with is not listed, please get in touch to see if we can help.

 

  • Divorce
  • Fixed Price Divorce
  • Cohabitation Agreement
  • Children
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Mediation

Divorce

There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The person who starts the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner and their spouse is called the Respondent. The Petition will need to show to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this is done by proving one of five ‘facts’.

In most cases it will be appropriate to write an initial letter to your spouse explaining that divorce proceedings are going to be started. Certainly, as members of Resolution we consider this to be a more non-confrontational step to take; however, we will, of course, discuss this with you.

Often the divorce procedure is straightforward and the procedure for a simple undefended divorce can be over quite quickly.  If you have any questions about the costs or process, please get in touch.

Financial agreement

One of the most worrying aspects of divorce is reaching a financial settlement and the protection of assets and income.

When divorce proceedings are issued, it is necessary to try and reach a financial settlement. It is important to keep all of your financial documents, such as payslips, bank statements and credit card statements, mortgage statements and pension statements. The reason for this is so that your Solicitor can give you full advice about an appropriate settlement, there will need to be an exchange of financial disclosure. This exchange of financial disclosure will be necessary during the course of negotiations, Court proceedings or mediation.

There are three main ways to reach a financial settlement which our team has extensive experience with.  We will be able to walk you through all the options to find which one is best for you and your situation.

Fixed Price Divorce

If you are happy to work though this process largely on your own, we offer a fixed fee to represent clients in divorce proceedings where both parties cooperate.

If you are the Petitioner (the person applying for a divorce) the cost will be £1240. This is made up of:

Our costs: £575.00
plus VAT at 20% £115.00
Court Fees £550.00
Total Cost £1240.00

 

If you are the Respondent (the person who receives the divorce papers) then the cost will be £540. This is made up of:

Our costs: £450.00
plus VAT at 20% £90.00
Total Cost £540.00

What is included?

  • Representation from taking your initial instructions to obtaining the Decree Absolute
  • Advising you regarding all relevant documentation
  • Preparing the required documentation
  • Corresponding with the Court
  • Corresponding with the other Party or their Solicitor

What is not included?

  • Defended proceedings.
  • Where the other Party cannot be found or located
  • Where either Party is a non-resident of the UK
  • Advice and assistance regarding disputes relating to children, domestic violence or of a financial nature
  • Attending Court
  • Amending the papers after they have been issued at the Court
  • Representing you in disputes about costs or enforcing costs orders
  • Naming a third party in the divorce proceedings
  • Making a cross-application for divorce

Cohabitation Agreement

Everyone’s personal situation is different, which means that each agreement will be different.

Having a cohabitation agreement drawn up can help to set down some practical guidelines for the relationship between you and your partner. Thinking these things through early on should make things much clearer and less painful in the event of a break up.

It is important to remember that although courts are showing more willingness to take account of such agreements, there is still no certainty that a cohabitation agreement will be enforced. To avoid allegations of duress or undue influence, the parties to a cohabitation agreement should have independent legal advice and the agreement should be made after the parties exchange full and frank disclosure. This is particularly important if the terms of the agreement seem to favour one party over the other. Otherwise, it may be argued that one of you tried to disadvantage the other unfairly.

For further advice on making a Cohabitation Agreement, please contact one of the Family team at GoodyBurrett LLP on 01206 577676.

Children

We can offer advice in relation to issues about children. We will discuss the options available and provide practical advice to help you deal with the difficulties you may be facing. It is not always necessary for children disputes to be dealt with by the Court and it is often better if Court applications can be avoided.

Parental Responsibility Agreements

In practical terms parental responsibility (PR), means the power to make important decisions in relation to a child, for example, a duty to ensure that the child is properly educated and a duty to feed and clothe and properly care for that child. Parental responsibility also gives the holder a right to consent to medical treatment of the child.

When an important decision has to be made about a child, all those with parental responsibility will be able to have a say in that decision if it concerns the upbringing of the child such as moving that child abroad or changing the child’s name. Day to day decisions should be taken by the person with whom the child lives without interference from other parental responsibility holders.

A Parental Responsibility Agreement can be made between the mother and the unmarried father to allow him to have joint parental responsibility. Such an agreement is suitable when both parents agree to the unmarried father having parental responsibility. The parents cannot simply make this agreement amongst themselves, the agreement must be signed and witnessed by a Justice’s clerk or a Court officer and the agreement must be filed at the Principal Registry of the Family Division to make it legally binding.

Care proceedings

The Local Authority is responsible for ensuring that children are safe and looked after by their parents or others looking after them.

Sometimes information is received which raises concerns about a child’s welfare. In these circumstances the Local Authority may investigate so they can decide whether further action is necessary. If action does need to be taken to protect a child they will need to seek permission from the court. If a child is considered to be in immediate danger of harm, the Local Authority can ask the police to take the child in to police protection for up to 72 hours.

We assist parents of children who are subject to involvement by the Local Authority. If you receive a letter stating that Court Proceedings are going to be issued or a notice of an application to the court you should not have to pay your solicitor, as Legal Aid is available for parents of children involved in these proceedings. In these circumstances public funding (legal aid) is not means tested.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse comes in many different ways and is not just physical violence.

Whilst physical violence is one form of domestic abuse, abuse also can be threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, sexual abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, financial abuse and controlling behaviour.

Many people are victims of domestic abuse including men and women. Abuse may come from partners, spouses, family members or others.

Domestic abuse should not be tolerated and if you are suffering from domestic abuse, you should seek advice regarding your options and how you can best protect yourself and any children.

We can provide legal advice and assist in applying for protective Orders from the Court. For example, you may wish to apply for a non-molestation order (an ‘injunction’). A non- molestation order provides protection by prohibiting a person from acting and behaving in a certain way and also from instructing or encouraging other people to do so.

Applications can also be made for occupation orders which regulate who should live in the property. An occupation order can exclude a person from a property if this is needed for the protection of a party and/or the children.

It is also important to seek support for practical and emotional issues and there are various organisations who can provide such support. For example:

Womens Refuge – www.refuge.org.uk

Womens Aid – www.womensaid.org.uk

Male support – www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Mediation

Family mediation is a process of resolving disputes whereby parties attend mediation meetings with a Mediator who is completely impartial.

Many issues can be discussed in mediation including issues arising out of parties separating, arrangements for the children and financial matters. Parties will explore the various issues with the assistance of the Mediator with a view to the parties reaching joint decisions about the future arrangements.

Mediation is a voluntary process and it is important to remember that the Mediator will remain impartial and will therefore not take sides. Neither will the Mediator advise or make decisions for the parties – the decisions are made by the parties.

It is often beneficial for parties to seek legal advice during the mediation process although this is not a requirement.

Mediation is not always appropriate and there may be reasons why mediation should not happen in a particular case.

If you would like to consider mediation, we will be happy to meet with you to explain the process in more detail and consider whether mediation will be suitable for you. Please contact us on 01206 577676.

Useful Links

GLEAMED
Greater London and East Anglia Mediation Services(GLEAMED) have a team of experienced, multi-disciplined and professional accredited mediators able to provide a mediation service for all types of disputes, including; boundary, family, business, commercial, personal injury and negligence, as well as cohabitation and other property related matters.

www.resolution.org.uk

www.collabfamilylaw.org.uk