Expert Family Law Solicitors
Our experienced family law solicitors guide you through all aspects of law relating to relationships. We understand the need for sensitive, practical, timely and impartial advice at what can be a very challenging time for the people concerned. We also recognise the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach for many family law cases. Consequently, where appropriate, we seek to co-operate and liaise with other interested professionals, including medical professionals, social workers and law enforcement agencies.
Our family law solicitors are always happy to have a preliminary and confidential chat with you to discuss the issues of concern and to outline potential methods of tackling them. We will always tell you at the outset what your matter might cost. Fixed fees are available for some areas.
Particular areas of specialism covered by our family law team are outlined below:
Pre-Nuptial and Cohabitation Agreements
Neither pre-nuptial nor cohabitation agreements are legally binding, but both are assuming increasing importance as more couples seek to protect assets acquired prior to their marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation. Correctly drafted, there is a significant chance of a court upholding one of these agreements. This is where we can help. Our family law solicitors are able to explain the differences between the two agreements, the prerequisites to drawing one up and, finally, can assist you and your partner to implement a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Divorce, Dissolution of a Civil Partnership and Separation
While divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership or separation are rarely achieved without some degree of emotional upset, the right legal advice can go a long way towards helping the separating couple avoid an unnecessarily acrimonious split. Our specialised family law solicitors can help you:
• estimate how long the process is likely to take (anywhere between 6 months and 2 years is standard);
• with which of the five “facts” (unreasonable behaviour, adultery, living apart for two years and both parties consent, living apart for five years and only one party consents, and desertion for at least two years) that give ground for divorce apply to you;
• with the procedural and logistical aspects of obtaining a divorce or dissolution; and
• assess the chances of you having to go to court.
Division of Matrimonial Assets
Although a financial settlement order made by a Judge as a result of a divorce or civil partnership is legally binding, it is not always necessary to go to court to achieve it. Wherever possible, our family law solicitors will seek to help you and your ex-partner to reach agreement via mediation, negotiation, arbitration or collaboration. We will help you take thorough stock of your matrimonial or civil partnership assets, including bricks-and-mortar property, cash savings, shares and pensions. We will also look at any international assets, any debts and the anticipated financial need of any children. As part of this process you should expect us to ask questions about:
• you and your ex-partner’s assets;
• current and future financial needs; current and future earning capacity;
• the age of you and your ex-partner;
• the ages and needs of any affected children; and
• the length of your marriage.
These questions might seem intrusive but they are necessary to help you achieve the best possible financial settlement for your future.
Arrangements for children can be one of the most stressful parts of any divorce or separation. However, it is not always necessary for the matter to end up in court. Our first approach is usually to achieve a mutually satisfactory agreement via mediation, negotiation, arbitration or collaboration. If this is not possible, our family law solicitors will guide you through the court process. At all stages, our team of professionals can help with matters including:
• custody (often referred to as residence);
• access (often known as contact);
• financial maintenance;
• possible relocation (both within the UK and abroad); and
• specific issues such as whether or not a child’s surname may be changed.
We can also advise grandparents and other close relatives on obtaining legal access to a child.
Adoption, Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction
Planning to welcome a child into your family as a result of adoption, surrogacy or assisted reproduction is an exciting time. Our family law solicitors all have considerable experience in helping couples and individuals to navigate the varying legal requirements and obtain a parental order.
Child Abduction Abroad
Moving a child to another country without the permission of either the other legal parent or a court may amount to a criminal offence. Despite this, the risk of abduction is often of great concern to a divorcing or separating individual whose estranged partner has origins or connections abroad. We understand the stresses of such situations and the need for urgent legal advice to resolve the matter as speedily as possible. Our family law solicitors are happy to act either for parents whose children have been (or are at risk of being) abducted abroad or for those who have taken their children to another country without appropriate consent.
We understand that it can take enormous effort and courage to extricate you, and perhaps also your children, from a situation involving domestic violence. Our professional and compassionate family law solicitors help you apply for a court order to protect you from further violence, harassment or threats and /or for a court order to prevent a particular person from entering or approaching your home. Our team can also help you protect your children and, when and you are ready, assist you to divorce an abusive partner and obtain a satisfactory financial outcome. Finally, we are also able you to signpost you towards other agencies that may be able to assist you and your children to heal the psychological scars and look forward to the future with confidence and optimism.
Clifford Johnston & Co: we’re on your side.