Expert Legal Advice on Family Law and Divorce
Family law issues can be extremely sensitive, whether you are facing a divorce, separation, issues surrounding children,
or are enduring domestic violence or abuse. The team at Simpson Millar have an excellent national reputation in providing
professional support and advice, as well as providing expert legal services.
Cost can be an issue for many, and for that reason we offer several funding options, to find out what funding options are
available to you:
Call 0808 129 3320 now and take advantage
of our freephone legal helpline.
Why You May Need Help:
Family Legal Services
Disputes over Children
Our team of experts are on hand to help
you sort out these often delicate and heart-felt issues.
For example, you may need assistance with any of the following:
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 the absent parent spends with the child. A child arrangements order is a formal agreement detailing arrangements
on how often the absent parent can spend time with the child. The agreement needs the person who the child normally lives
with to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the agreement.
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.
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.
Parental child abduction
It’s a criminal offence for anyone connected with a child (defined as someone under the age of 16) to send or take a child
out of the UK without the appropriate consent. Connected parties include parents, guardians or a person with custody of
the child or a residence order. Appropriate consent is the consent of the mother, the father (if he has parental responsibility),
the guardian or anyone with a residence order, parental responsibility or the agreement of the court. Parental abduction
is covered for example, if you take your child on holiday abroad without the other parent's permission, or those with parental
responsibility. This could be classified as child abduction. If you are not sure about your rights you can arrange a meeting
with one of our team and they will discuss what options are open to you and what you should do if your child has been abducted.
Child Abduction - The Hague Convention
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.
Agreeing maintenance with your former partner can be difficult and sometimes if you cannot agree, the issue will be dealt
with by the Child Maintenance Service. They can help with all matters involving child maintenance including; calculating
maintenance payments, helping if your circumstances change, finding and dealing with the other parent and taking action
if the payments are not made. However, they charge for the use of their services and cannot help if the child goes to university
and the absent parent refuses to help meet the costs, if that happens further mediation might be required, or legal action.
Parental Responsibility Agreements
If you have parental responsibility, you are entitled to have a say in the important decisions regarding a child’s upbringing.
A parental responsibility agreement is often made between a father who was not married to the mother of the child and not
named on the birth certificate. Other people such as a guardian, grandparent, local authority and the courts can acquire
a parental agreement. Alternatively, an application to court can be made for parental responsibility and step-parents and
those in a same sex relationship can acquire it too.
Special Guardianship Orders
A Special Guardianship Order helps your children if they cannot currently live with you (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.
Civil Partnership – How to end a Civil Partnership
Ending a civil partnership is the equivalent to a divorce for married couples. 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’. Before you can apply to end your civil partnership, you must have been in a Civil Partnership for at least a year
in order to apply for dissolution. Read more...
Collaborative Family Law Advice Service
We also offer a collaborative
law service, as well as a traditional resolution process.
This is a new approach set up by a specialist group of family lawyers to manage the divorce process in a dignified manner
for all concerned. During the collaborative process, the solicitors and their clients agree, in writing, to arrive at a
settlement without involving the courts. They agree to work together to resolve any family and financial issues arising
out of the separation.
For couples who really seek a rational solution, and want to reduce the pain of family breakdowns, it offers the best way
ahead. Collaborative law allows you and your former partner to reach shared solutions and agreements away from the court,
giving you more control of the situation. You and your former partner will meet with your own solicitors in the same room
and work through issues together face-to-face. This service aims to reach the best solutions for you and your family.
Divorce and Financial Settlements
When you are looking to get a divorce, it is important that you get what you deserve out of the financial settlement. We
know that reaching a financial settlement can be the most contentious and complicated part of a divorce. You both have to
provide detailed information about your financial situation so a fair settlement can be reached and by working together
with our divorce law solicitors, this is something that can be achieved. Read
International Aspects of Separation and Divorce
If you are an ex-pat, or from another part of the world it can be beneficial to issue divorce proceedings in the English
courts, if the necessary rules on residence and domicile are met. The costs are often cheaper and the process can be quicker.
Additionally the courts in England often settle more generously than those in other countries. But be mindful that the courts
are cracking down on ‘divorce tourism’, where people divorce outside the jurisdiction and then look to the English courts
to deal with the finances.
Moving to another country can be very difficult; you'll be dealing with a different legal system, possibly a different language,
and often feeling that you are in a strange country far away from friends and family. Some issues you may be facing may
include wanting to regularise your stay in the UK in order to see your children, or you may have separated from your partner
and are concerned whether this will change your right to stay in the UK. Our immigration solicitors have years of experience
helping people from all over the world to immigrate to the UK and understand just how lonely and frightening the experience
can be. Read more...
Pensions on Divorce
How the court approaches dealing with pensions on divorce is highly technical and often requires specialist advice from an
actuary. The main options are to offset one party’s interest in the others pension by awarding a greater share of the assets
in lieu of that interest or in the alternative order a percentage of that pension be transferred to the other.
Drafted to highlight the terms of a separation that you both have agreed to when a relationship is breaking down, these documents
are considered by the judge when looking at the financial consequences of the breakdown of a marriage. If the court feels,
the terms of the agreement meet the needs of both of you and are fair and reasonable they are unlikely to challenge them.
However, if one of your circumstances has drastically changed since it was executed, the court may decide it is no longer
binding and start again. Read more...
Tax Issues after Separation
The last thing on your mind when your marriage, relationship or civil partnership breaks down will probably be the tax man;
however, tax implications need to be taken into account and the sooner you can get help to address any pending problems
the better. Tax can arise on the transfer of assets or their sale and if business assets are involved the situation can
be even more complicated.
Domestic Violence/Abuse – Legal Aid Available
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:
Mediation for Family Disputes
To make everyone feel comfortable the parties involved in the dispute will meet in a neutral location with a different and
impartial trained mediator, who is often a solicitor themselves. The mediator will then suggest what the most likely outcome
would be if the case went to court. The solicitor meditating will then help the parties draw up a memorandum of the agreement
reached that suits everyone; this will then be incorporated into an order.
It is quite commonplace now for couples to live together and not get married and in these circumstances it can be worth thinking
about a Cohabitation Agreement. This is a formal document entered into by you and your partner, and can cover your affairs
in relation to property, money, 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 split up. Provided it meets the necessary criteria, a court will
be unlikely to go against it should you split up. Read more...
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.
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.
The Common Law Marriage Myth
This is probably the biggest myth in family law. There is simply no such thing as ‘Common Law
Marriage’, ‘Common Law Wife’ or ‘Common Law Husband’ in England and Wales. Sadly, many people still believe that if they
have been in a relationship and lived with someone for a period of time they have the same rights as a married couple. This
is not true.
Civil Partnerships - What are my Rights?
When entering into a Civil Partnership it’s important to understand your rights. 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.
Most people when getting married don’t want to think that a marriage might fail but with over 40% of marriages ending in
divorce in the UK, having a pre-nuptial agreement from the start will help protect you and your wealth if your marriage
doesn’t work out. Although still not legally binding, more and more judges are taking notice of what was originally stated
in the agreement. If it still meets the parties needs and other criteria are satisfied concerning its preparation and drafting,
the court may well uphold its terms. However, it's important to note this area of the law is developing on a case by case
basis. Read more...
Those of you who are marrying later in life or entering second or subsequent marriages may have a great deal of assets acquired
over a lifetime that you wish to preserve for your children from earlier relationships, or other relatives. Appropriate
use of pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements, well-drafted and thought out offer the best way of preserving these assets
and putting them beyond the reach of the predations of divorce proceedings.
Whatever your family law needs might be, from the start to a relationship to the point where a relationship is breaking down; our specialist solicitors are here to help.
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.