Family Law Solicitors
Wells Burcombe advise on all aspects of family law, ranging from advising and drafting prenuptial agreements, right through to separation, divorce, financial settlement and child contact.
Separation and divorce can be very acrimonious and little is often achieved without professional input and assistance.
Whether you are contemplating separation or divorce or whether your mind has already been made up and there's no going back, there will be lots of questions that you need answered.
Frequently asked questions
I am separated and considering divorce. What are the conditions for a divorce?
It must be shown that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are various ways this can be demonstrated such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion for more than 2 years, 2 years separation with consent of the other party, or 5 years separation without consent.
An alternative procedure to that of divorce is to obtain a decree of judicial separation. Such a decree does not dissolve the marriage but releases the parties from the duty to live together, and involves a similar procedure to divorce except there is no need to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This procedure is often used when parties separate during the first year of marriage during which a divorce cannot be commenced, or where people have religious beliefs contrary to the concept of divorce. It is possible to obtain the same financial and other remedies in judicial separation that are available in divorce proceedings.
What will happen to my children if I get a divorce or separation?
When a relationship breaks down there can be a big impact on the children, particularly in relation to contact. Separating parents can sometimes amicably agree the nature and extent of child contact, but all too often emotions are running high and an agreement cannot be reached. Such matters are now dealt with under what are known as Child Arrangements Orders.
Parents can also make applications to the court for orders to determine specific issues, such as schooling, as well as orders preventing certain actions, known as Prohibited Steps Orders, which frequently relate to matters such as the prevention of a parent taking a child out of the country.
Do I need a pre-nuptial agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are an increasing and ever more popular arrangement. When entering the sanctity of marriage no one contemplates divorce, but unfortunately the number of separations and divorce each year demonstrate that marriages are not always for life.
The idea behind a prenup is that a couple can agree how assets are divided in the event that a relationship breaks down.
Upon marriage, all of your assets become ‘matrimonial assets.’ Unless specific arrangements are made for them, all such assets are available for distribution between the parties upon divorce.
Prenuptial agreements are not currently recognised as legally binding in the UK, but the courts will give considerable regard to such agreements when coming to their decision on the division and distribution of assets.
How can I protect my assets and finances?
The courts use a procedure known as Financial Remedy to resolve financial matters between separating parties. This process can deal with a wide range of issues, including property transfers or disposals, maintenance payments, payments of lump sums and the entitlement to pensions.
It is commonly thought that a divorce ends a person’s right to make financial claims against their former partner. However, in reality such rights do in fact continue unless they are stopped by a court order.
It is therefore sensible even when parties remain on good terms and have agreed all matters between them, to have a court order, known as a Consent Order. This can assist in finalising matters by preventing the parties from making any further claims against each other as well as setting out details of all agreed terms.
I am the victim of domestic violence, what can I do to protect myself?
Domestic violence is a frequent cause of the breakdown of many relationships. It can have an overwhelming and debilitating effect on the lives of a victim, as well as on any children.
You can look to obtain a court order under the Family Law Act 1996, such as a Non-Molestation Order, which protects you from further abuse by preventing a person from being violent, threatening or otherwise intimidating you. It is a criminal offence to breach the terms of such an order, so they are very effective.
You can also apply for an Occupation Order, which regulates who may live at the family home and is usually enforced by having a power of arrest attached to it.
What can we help you with?
We understand that divorce or separation can be an extremely stressful and confusing experience.
Unmarried couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples when it comes to property, finances and children.
Prenuptial agreements set out terms prior to marriage with regards to joint assets should they divorce.
Divorce or separation can effect your children. An agreement needs to be in place regarding contact with your children.
You or your children should not have to suffer from abuse from a spouse or partner who you live with.
We provide charging frameworks and solutions to help you, because we believe cost should not stand in the way.