Divorce & Separation
For those looking to formalise the ending of a marriage the issues can appear overwhelming, but it may help to know that divorce follows a series of well-recognised steps; the filing, the acknowledgement and the Court Orders’ (Decrees) and while there is general advice online, most people need practical guidance and help that is specific to their situation. We have a team in place with the experience, understanding and expertise to help guide you through all the details, in a friendly and pragmatic way.
“The breakdown of a relationship is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. Whilst we cannot help with the emotional recovery of our clients we work hard to take away some of the stress of the process by providing clear advice and making every effort to bring about a resolution as quickly as possible.”
Anne Shears, Solicitor
How can you help me?
If you are entering a divorce, sooner or later you will need to speak with a specialist lawyer as there are legal steps that have to be taken and often other areas, such as the welfare of children and the treatment of property and finances, that also require formal agreement. At Nash & Co we have a specialist team of approachable and caring people who are ready to help you; we are all members of Resolution. We can answer your questions about any aspect of the process, from the legal grounds for a divorce, filing a Petition, receiving the Acknowledgement of Service and preparing an Affidavit in support of the Petition to obtain a Decree Nisi before turning our attention to the Decree Absolute.
Can you answer all my questions?
While every situation is different, we know that there are some common questions around eligibility for legal aid and the possibility of sharing costs, the details of the process and the appropriate level of legal representation. It is also likely that you will have questions that are unique to your own set of personal circumstances. We can answer your questions and will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for you while paying particular attention to the needs of children, the wider family and finances. We also know that in some cases there may be serious issues around abusive behaviour where protective measures may need to put in place.
What is the best course of action?
As you will already know, there are many aspects of a divorce to think about. While our ‘Guide to Divorce’ is very useful, we think that the best thing is to contact us and speak with one of our Family Team; we will listen to you, answer your questions and you can then decide if you would like us to help. Give the Family team’s leader Eleanor Barber a call on 01752 827030 or email her at [email protected].
Divorce can be complicated but it does not need to destructive. Our Lawyers subscribe to the Resolution code of conduct that encourages agreement, open negotiation and an approach that reduces, rather than heightens tensions, which in turn, paves the way for an early resolution of difficult issues, minimising costs and ill feeling.
No, we do not offer a free half hour initial appointment as we have found that this type of appointment rarely gives clients real help or assistance. In half an hour, we would only be able to take from you the bare outline details and there would be no time to give you anything but the most basic advice, which would not cover the specific details of your case. We believe that to be able to take your information fully and to be able to give you advice that will actually help you, we need a lot longer than half an hour! Firms that offer a free half hour appointment are using it to ‘hook’ new clients and a second appointment, at full price, will almost certainly have to be booked before you can give full information and receive any sort of detailed advice. We understand that you do not want to be limited to half an hour when seeking expert legal advice and therefore we offer a reduced price initial appointment for £125 plus VAT. This appointment will take around an hour or so and after the meeting, we will send you a detailed attendance note, confirming the information provided by you and our advice, setting out your options, the necessary steps and cost estimates. We want to offer the very best service to all our clients, and we strongly believe that a free half hour appointment does not allow us to do that. We want you to leave your initial meeting feeling that you have been able to fully explain the issues and having received clear and detailed advice about your legal situation and the options available to you.
We understand that knowing what your costs are going to be is very important. We offer fixed fees for divorce / civil partnership dissolution. We can also agree a fixed fee for the preparation of a Separation Agreement, Financial Consent Order or Pre-Marital Agreement once we know what the issues to be covered are. With other matters, such as financial negotiations arising from relationship breakdown or disputes about children, it is not possible to agree a fixed fee, as it is rarely sufficiently clear from the outset what all the issues will be. We do however break your likely costs down into stages, telling you how much each individual stage is likely to cost before you embark on that stage if possible. We will send you regular bills and update cost estimates where appropriate to ensure that you have the best information available to help you understand and budget for your costs.
There have been significant changes to the availability of legal aid for family matters, however it can still be available when dealing with some aspect of family law, if you can prove your status as a victim of domestic violence or if Social Services have concerns about the safety of your children.
In order to prove your eligibility, there are a number of standard letters provided by the Legal Aid Agency which can assist you. Please click the link below to see what evidence will be accepted by the Legal Aid Agency. You cannot apply for legal aid without an ‘evidence letter’ if you are seeking assistance with divorce or children matters. Should you be seeking legal aid in relation to protection from domestic violence an ‘evidence letter’ will not be necessary.
As well as the above evidence, you will need to be assessed as financially eligible for legal aid. Please use the online eligibility calculator to give you an indication as to whether you may be financially eligible. This will assist you in knowing whether legal aid may be an option.
Once you have obtained one of the standard ‘evidence letters’ from a professional, and have checked your financial eligibility, please give us a call to discuss making an appointment.
If intending to issue an application to Court for an Order relating to children or an Order relating to matrimonial finances there is an expectation that you will have attempted mediation before your application can be issued at Court. There are limited exceptions where attendance at mediation is not necessary, however in most cases it will be necessary to attend at least a first mediation meeting, known as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
As a rule of thumb a divorce can take between 4 and 6 months from the date that the petition is lodged with the Court but it very much depends upon the complexity of the issues and how much co-operation there is between the parties.
We do work towards bringing about a conclusion as soon as possible for our clients as we recognise that it is an incredibly difficult time for them. However, each case will turn on its individual facts and it is difficult to know how long a divorce will take before the particular circumstances of the case are known. We recommend that anyone considering divorce makes an appointment with one of our specialist solicitors to come to the office to discuss matters where a time estimate can then be provided.
It is not always the position that family home will have to be sold following separation but this will depend upon the financial circumstances of the parties.
It is very uncommon for both parties to remain living in the same property following separation and so, it would seem fairly inevitable that one of the parties will have to move from the property but this does not necessarily mean that the property will have to be sold.
In cases involving children, as long as it is financially possible, every effort is made to ensure that children do remain in their home to provide stability and security for them at what is, for the whole family, a very difficult time.
We recommend that anyone concerned about what would happen to their property following separation makes an appointment to come in and meet with one of our specialist solicitors for further detailed advice.
Parental Responsibility is all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his/her property.
Mothers automatically have parental responsibility. Fathers can obtain parental responsibility by satisfying one of the below:-
- jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003)
- getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
- getting a parental responsibility order from a court
- married to the child’s mother (this does not give step-parents parental responsibility)
For a straight forward, undefended divorce you will not need to attend Court.
Where you cannot reach an agreement and you have to issue an application to Court, for example to resolve the concequent financial issues arising out of your divorce or in relation to a dispute regarding children, then Court attendance will be necessary.