Family law issues can be extremely sensitive, whether you are facing a divorce, separation or issues surrounding children. If you find yourself in need of help, the team at Simpson Millar have an excellent national reputation in providing professional support and expert advice, as well as providing expert legal services.
All of our team are members of Resolution and are committed to providing non-confrontational, constructive and practical advice to separating families.
Divorce and Separation
At Simpson Millar we understand that divorce is an emotional and turbulent time, one where you may be faced with complex legal information and are inevitably expected to make many serious decisions about your future.
Our Family Law Specialists have a depth of experience in handling divorces and will ensure you fully understand what the divorce proceedings entail, guiding you towards the most favourable outcome for you, whatever your objective may be – we understand that this is different for each individual.
Some of the areas of divorce we can assist with are:
Same-Sex Marriage/Civil Partnership
A Civil Partnership gives you a number of rights such as, joint treatment for income-related benefits, joint state pension, fair arrangements for dividing property if the relationship breaks down, and parental responsibility for each other’s children. Read more...
Dissolving a same-sex marriage or civil partnership is the same procedure to a divorce for married heterosexual couples. The only difference is that for Civil Partnership the process is known as 'Dissolution of a Civil Partnership' and there are 3 main stages: ‘Dissolution Petition’, ‘Conditional Dissolution Order’ and ‘Final Dissolution Order’.
You must have been in your Same-Sex Marriage or Civil Partnership for at least a year in order to apply for dissolution. Read more...
International Aspects of Divorce and Separation
If the necessary requirements of habitual residence and domicile are met, it may be beneficial for you to issue divorce proceedings in the English courts. Dealing with a divorce in England can potentially be quicker and simpler than elsewhere in the world, with English courts having the reputation of ordering financial settlements more generously than in other countries.
We offer guidance on how to begin this process and can answer any other queries about undergoing a divorce in England.
Divorce and Financial Disputes
Divorce and Financial Settlements
When you are ready get a divorce, it is important that you also deal with the finances arising from the marriage by way of a financial settlement. We know that reaching a financial settlement can be the most contentious, daunting and complicated part of a divorce and is often where most time is spent (outside of children matters). The thought of protracted and expensive court proceedings only adds to the existing stresses of family breakdown. Our team of family lawyers at Simpson Millar, wherever possible, look to resolve and manage family separation in a way which encourages co-operation and agreement by exploring non- confrontational routes to settlement. You do not need to go to court to get a financial settlement, there are many other avenues available. This can be achieved by negotiation, collaboration, mediation or arbitration. However, if you do need to proceed through the court system, our team will guide you through every step of the process in the most constructive and cost effective way with local knowledge of the Courts and Counsel to give greater indications on the eventual outcome.
You will each have to provide detailed information about your financial circumstances in order that a fair settlement can be reached. Our family law team can provide you with valuable guidance as to how this can be done to give you the best chance of obtaining what you need to secure your financial future. Read more...
The services we offer include:-
- Financial settlements on divorce, including international assets;
- Pensions sharing on divorce;
- Financial remedies;
- Company business interests and valuations;
- Consent Orders;
- Property disputes for unmarried or related parties;
- Financial relief for unmarried parents
- Nuptial Agreements (Pre or Post);
- Freezing Orders;
- Transfer of property;
Our National Team of Solicitors have decades of experience and can provide you with the best legal and local expertise to ensure you make the right decisions for you and your family. We offer a bespoke, personal service to support and guide you through the process.
Pensions and Divorce
The way in which the court approaches pensions and divorce is highly technical, often requiring specialist advice from an expert as this asset cannot be treated as though it were cash. There are many options on how to treat pension funds on divorce such as off-setting and pension sharing. Our specialists can provide you with the information you need to navigate these issues to produce a fair settlement.
We understand that individuals process the breakdown of relationships at different speeds. In these circumstances, when the time is not right to divorce, a separation agreement can be used to give greater financial certainty before a final order is made if this might be years down the line. The terms of these agreements, although not binding on divorce, are likely to form the basis of the final financial order and therefore it is important to get it right. The best way to ensure this is through the use of a specialist solicitor practising in this field day in day out as we do here at Simpson Millar. Read more...
Pre and post-nuptial agreements have risen exponentially since the landmark decision of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, which saw the Supreme Court sanctioning the enforcement of the parties’ pre-nuptial agreement. This has paved the way for nuptial agreements in this country, and although they are not law yet, there is much in the way of government interest to suggest they will become the norm in the future as it is with our European neighbours.
A nuptial agreement can be drafted before or after your marriage and helps couples have greater autonomy over their financial future. Although they are not yet legally binding, if the agreement is drafted fairly, with full and frank disclosure and in the absence of duress, the Court is likely to take this into account and uphold the terms when making a financial order. However, it is important to note this area of the law is developing on a case by case basis. Therefore expert advice is highly recommended before embarking on this type of matrimonial contract.
Those who are marrying later in life or entering second or subsequent marriages may have assets acquired over a lifetime or inherited, assets you wish to preserve for your children from earlier relationships, or other relatives. The appropriate use of nuptial agreements, that are well-drafted and considered by a specialist, offers the best way of preserving these assets and giving greater legal certainty. Read more...
It is commonplace for couples to live together and many choose not to marry. In these circumstances it can be worth thinking about a Co-habitation Agreement to regulate your relationship. This is a formal document entered into by you and your partner, and can cover your financial affairs in relation to property and can cover children issues. The agreement relates to the time you are living together but also sets out the terms in the event you decide to separate. Provided it meets the necessary criteria, a court will be unlikely to challenge it when it comes to asset division as this is evidence of your intentions. Read more...
Cohabitation Disputes and “TOLATA”
Disputes can happen when people are living together and these can arise between friends and not just between people in relationships. With more and more people having to share houses due to the difficulty getting onto the property market, cohabitation disputes are becoming more common. If you are experiencing these types of problems, we are here to help..
Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees (“TOLATA”)
For many of our clients the concerns raised by the breakdown of an unmarried relationship are very similar to those raised by a divorce. Will I have to move out of my home? Can I expect my partner to continue to support me financially, or can I be required to support him/her? How do we divide up the assets we share? Am I entitled to a share of his/her other assets and savings, and am I expected to share mine with him/her? What if we can’t agree will happen to our children?
The law relating to children makes very little distinction between married and unmarried couples. The same principles apply in any disagreement about the practical arrangements for children, and disputes regarding maintenance for children are resolved by the Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”), which applies regardless of marital status.
However, the law regulating financial issues treats married and unmarried couples very differently and many will be surprised to hear that there is no such legal status as a “common law wife” and that co-habitees rights are not specifically protected by a specific piece of legislation. In fact, cohabitees must rely upon a patchwork of land and trust law in order to obtain an order in this area. The relevant piece of legislation for applications regarding property is s.14 of the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 or TOLATA for short. These types of application are far from straightforward as they proceed under the civil procedure rules rather than the family procedure rules. This is principally because the Judge is not given the same discretion in the civil courts as they would in the family Courts to decide what is fair. This also means that there are costs consequences that do not arise in family law proceedings and for that reason, expert advice is essential. We at Simpson Millar can help guide you through this and make recommendations as to the correct procedure to follow depending on your individual circumstances and you want to achieve.
Declarations of Trust to Regulate Property Ownership
Usually, parties who own property together will hold it as beneficial joint tenants or tenants in common in equal shares, meaning that each has as much interest in the property as the other. However, if you hold the property as tenants in common, one of you can leave your interest in the property to a third party under the terms of your will. You should consider holding a property as tenants in common, if one of you has put down more money than the other by means of a trust deed, to reflect the greater contribution.
Tax Issues after Separation
The last thing you want to think about when your marriage or relationship breaks down will probably be the tax man; however, tax implications need to be taken into account when tying up the marital finances, and the sooner you address any pending problems, the better. Tax can arise on the transfer of assets, such as matrimonial property, or the sale of business assets. With the help of our team, you will be able to plan for any potential liabilities.
Our team of experts are on hand to help you work through these delicate issues. If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement over arrangements for a child or their care, then we can discuss these matters with you further and then offer help with the following:
Living and Contact Arrangements for Children
It can be very difficult once your relationship has broken down to agree who your child should live with and how much time each parent spends with the child. A child arrangements order is a formal agreement detailing arrangements on how much time the child spends with each parent, which will include daily care arrangements as well as holidays and special occasions. We want to help you reach a workable arrangement in the best interests of your child, which means you can work together with your co-parent following separation. Read more...
Agreeing financial maintenance for a child with your former partner can be difficult. If you cannot agree, your first port of call will be dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. They are a government body and can help with all matters involving child maintenance, including:
- Calculating maintenance payments
- Helping if your circumstances change
- Finding and dealing with the other parent
- Taking action if the payments are not made.
However, if they have to collect maintenance on your behalf, they will impose a charge. It is better to agree voluntarily to those arrangements to preserve the family finances. The Court will have jurisdiction to deal with child maintenance in certain circumstances and our team can provide further information in the event you are having difficulty obtaining the support you need.
Parental Responsibility Agreements
If you have parental responsibility, you are entitled to provide consent to the important decisions regarding a child’s welfare. A parental responsibility agreement can be used if the father was not married to the mother of the child at the time of birth and was not named on the birth certificate. It is possible for other individuals or family members such as step-parents, non-biological parents, a guardian, grandparent or sibling to acquire parental responsibility. Alternatively, an application to court can be made for parental responsibility if necessary. Read more...
The criminal offence of child abduction is defined in the provisions of the Child Abduction Act, 1984. It applies slightly differently in each of the four countries of the UK. Read more...
Parental child abduction
It’s a criminal offence for anyone connected with a child to send or take them out of the UK without the appropriate consent of the co-parent or person with parental responsibility. Even if you are a parent, guardian or have child residence order, this is still illegal without the proper consent.
If you are unsure of the level of consent you have over a child, or if you have consent and believe that your child has been taken out of the country without your permission, contact one of our solicitors today and we will act fast to help you gain the protection you may need for your child.
The Hague Convention was set up to help with the safe return of an abducted child to their country of residence. The UK and many other countries have signed this agreement.
If a child has been taken to one of these countries, or a county with another international agreement, this can help in securing their return to you as quickly as possible. If no inter-country agreement is in place, an order from the English court can be issued then a solicitor in the country where the child has been taken can attempt to enforce it in that country.
If the country in question which the child has been taken to is Poland, then Simpson Millar can be especially useful in this regard. Our Polish Legal Services have an excellent track record in family cases and each area of law.
Children – Public Law
If you have a dispute over your child regarding public law, such as an issue with a child order in place, our specialists are on hand to help you through this sensitive and emotional period. We can also assist with:
Care Proceedings with Local Authorities
If your child has been taken into care then they will be the subject of a care order which means the local authority now shares legal responsibility for your child with you as their parents. This is called ‘parental responsibility’ and this gives the local authority the right to decide where your child may live. This could be away from your family home, such as with foster carers or other family members, in certain cases, this could lead to your child being adopted. Read more...
Special Guardianship Orders
A Special Guardianship Order helps your children if they cannot currently live with you (as their birth parents), but where other family members can look after them and avoid the need for adoption. This enables you to keep links with your child as natural parents and ensure your child is cared for in an environment that is not too different to their normal routine. The local authority has to prepare a report before such an order can be granted. Within the order, it will set out the financial support that the guardians are entitled to receive for caring for the child. Read more...
Other Services We Offer
Aside from our core family services, we also provide legal guidance in:
You should not have to tolerate abuse or violence from your partner and it's important to know that if you are in this position that help is at hand to help protect you and your family. We have dealt with many people in this situation and appreciate it is a very difficult and scary to seek help but help is available. Domestic violence and abuse comes in many forms. It can be physical, sexual, and psychological, it can be controlling where you go, who you can see and denying you access to your finances. You may not be aware that you can apply for legal protection orders: such as non-molestation (this prevents the abuser from violent or threatening against you or your child) and occupation orders (these enable the court to regular who lives in your family home). Read more...
You can also seek immediate help from the following agencies:
Why Choose Us?
- A dedicated team of friendly family lawyers who strive for excellence in everything they do
- Recommended in Legal 500 and Chambers as a respected practice
- Flexible fee options from legal aid, privately paying to fixed fees
- Out of hours appointment service
- Collaborative and mediation services offered to help resolve disputes amicably
- We are a national law firm with offices in:
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Funding Options – Fixed Fee (Set fees), Paying Private and Legal Aid
Most family law cases can be funded in a variety of ways and we offer many different options. You can find out more about
the possible funding option available to you here. If you have any questions about funding please contact Simpson Millar,
we are sure we can help.
Want to see a Family Lawyer out of Working Hours
We have family ourselves and know just how hectic family lives can get and taking time out during the working day can be hard so we offer face-to-face or telephone appointments on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings:
By Appointment Only
- Thursday Evenings from 5pm - 7pm
- Saturday Mornings from 9am - 12 noon
- Please make sure you book your appointment in advance regardless of whether it is by telephone or face to face
To book either:
Legal 500 2015
Simpson Millar LLP is ‘committed to its clients, who are often legally aided or vulnerable’.
Simpson Millar LLP has a strong association with trade unions, with other clients including directors and shareholders of
SMEs, and domestic violence survivors.
Family Law Solicitors
Contact our solicitors now to get the family law advice you need. We can help you by completing
our, no obligation, online enquiry form
and we will call you back or you can call us directly on freephone: 0808 129 3320.