How can we assist you following the breakdown of your marriage or your relationship?
If you are sure that your relationship has broken down on a permanent basis we will give you advice as to the grounds for divorce that are available to you and we will take you through the procedure in the Family Court. This commences with filing the Petition for divorce culminating with the Decree Nisi and then the certificate making your Decree Nisi Absolute. This is normally a straight forward procedure. Legal Help may be available subject to means and if you have been the victim of domestic abuse or Social Services have been involved with your child/children.
All Relationships Inclusive of Cohabitation
Upon the assumption that your relationship has broken down on a permanent basis we can give you advice on issues involving any children of your relationship. We will also discuss with you how to deal with financial matters following the ending of your relationship. There are four ways in which all these issues can be dealt with between you and your partner:
- You and your partner may be able to agree all matters between you. It is always important to maintain the relationship between you both and to discuss matters if at all possible. If you are able to agree the arrangements for residence and contact to your children and how to resolve the division of the matrimonial assets then we would assist you in drawing up the relevant documentation. This would be submitted to the Family Court for approval of the District Judge so that matters can be finalised. Legal Aid may be available subject to means and if you have been the victim of domestic abuse or Social Services have been involved with your child/children.
- If you are not able to resolve matters directly between yourselves then we would like to refer you to Mediation. Where an accredited Mediator, often a Solicitor, often a fully qualified Solicitor, will meet up with you both at the same time (in separate rooms if necessary) and explore the various issues that need to be resolved and assist you in reaching a negotiated settlement. If an agreement can be reached upon this basis then the Mediator will prepare a document setting out the basic terms of the agreement for your detailed consideration and you would then discuss that document with us as your Solicitors. We would then liaise with your partner's Solicitors and confirm the terms of the agreement reached which would then be submitted to the Family Court for the approval of the District Judge to finalise matters. Legal Aid may be available subject to means.
- If you did not feel able to discuss matters directly with your partner, even with the assistance of a Mediator, then we will discuss with you whether matters could be resolved by a process known as Collaborative Law. This is a procedure whereby you and Chris Nicholls who is a qualified Collaborative Lawyer would attend a meeting with your partner and another Collaborative Lawyer. Negotiations would take place around the table. If an agreement is reached then various documents are drawn up and matters are finalised. If an agreement is not reached then this firm will not be able to assist you any further. We would then need to refer you to another Solicitor dealing in family law who would then have to deal with proceedings through the County Court. Legal Aid is not available for this process.
- If negotiations, Mediation and/or Collaborative Law do not resolve matters then we can assist you in issuing proceedings in the Family Court. The procedure then is that both you and your partner would complete various documents giving a full and frank disclosure of your overall financial positions. The Court would fix a timetable for an initial Court hearing when the Judge would ask whether matters could be agreed. If, with the assistance of Solicitors and Barristers, no agreement is reached at that stage, the Court would then fix a date for a full hearing of all of the issues. The Court would hear evidence from you and your partner and having seen all of the relevant documents the Judge would then decide the issues and make a Court Order. Matters would be resolved therefore by way of a Court Hearing and a Judgement from the District Judge set out in an Order.
Our aim is to assist you in resolving matters as swiftly and as cost effectively as we can. We aim to avoid full Court proceedings if at all possible since this is a long drawn out, stressful procedure and is the most expensive of all the options. We will obviously discuss all of the options with you in detail when we take full instructions from you.