The end of a relationship is an upsetting and stressful time for everyone involved.
Having a supportive and knowledgeable family lawyer at your side can help make the process easier by removing the burden of dealing with the legal formalities involved.
expert family lawyers.
With a number of experienced family lawyers on our team, know we’ll do all we can to make this difficult time a little easier for you.
an experienced family law team.
Our family law team helps with divorce, separation, child arrangements, child guardianship and child abduction as well as cohabitation agreements and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Divorce is never quite the easy ride one hopes it might be, and I enlisted the help of Clare Marion of Howell Jones to guide me through the process. The inevitable hold ups and periods of acrimony made the whole process sometimes seem more trouble than it was worth. Obviously though, there were assets to divide equally or otherwise, so it had to be done.
Throughout the whole process, I found Clare’s professionalism, and understanding to be a massive support. On a personal level I also found Clare to be a very caring and kind person, who understood exactly what I was going through.
After what seemed an eternity, mainly due to excessive demands and stalling tactics, Clare brokered a settlement and the divorce was sanctioned.
I will always be grateful to Clare for basically keeping the process, and indeed myself, on the rails.
I have no reservations whatsoever in highly recommending Clare and the company she represents.
Sound advice from experienced solicitors, with prompt and courteous service. I would thoroughly recommend them to attend to any legal affairs with competence.
how we can help you
Perhaps divorce is a step too far and not right for you at this time. Some couples decide to separate for two years instead, to make sure that a divorce is what they really want.
If you remain separated for the full two years this can be used as a ground for a divorce.
Before you separate, you should enter into a written agreement called a separation agreement. This details how financial assets are to be dealt with.
A separation agreement is the best way to protect your financial position and is something we can help you draft. A well-drafted separation agreement can be incorporated into a binding, final agreement should the separation result in divorce.
before starting the divorce procedure, you must be certain your situation qualifies for a divorce.
the basic legal requirements for a divorce.
- You need to have been married for at least one year and one of you has to have been resident in England or Wales
- The court needs to be satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, usually by relying on one of the following:
- Two years separation (with consent)
- Five years separation
the simple mechanics of the process – the divorce procedure explained.
The divorce procedure is simply a matter of the court making two decrees.
The first is a Decree Nisi which says that the court believes there are grounds for a divorce and that the correct legal process has been followed.
The second is the Decree Absolute and is the legal document that ends the marriage. You must wait at least 43 days (six weeks and one day) before applying for a Decree Nisi to be made Absolute.
the basic steps involved in the divorce procedure.
- File for divorce – one of the parties (the Petitioner) prepares a divorce petition and sends it to the court who then sends it to their husband or wife.
- Acknowledgement & answer – the husband or wife prepares a separate legal document which says whether or not they will contest the divorce.
- Request for a Decree Nisi – assuming the petition is uncontested, the Petitioner’s solicitor prepares a request for a Decree Nisi and sends it to the court.
- Pronouncement of the Decree – if the court is satisfied with the grounds and the process has been followed, the court will make this first decree in court. There is usually no need for either party to attend.
- Application for Decree Absolute – After a period of at least 43 days (six weeks and one day) the Petitioner applies to the court to make the Decree Absolute.
- Decree Absolute – if satisfied with the process, the court makes this decree and ends the marriage.
Going through a separation or divorce can be an emotional and stressful time. Deciding how to divide the family assets and agreeing on arrangements for children can cause significant upset.
what is family mediation?
Mediation is a process where a professionally trained, impartial mediator helps both parties reach an agreement.
Most couples must meet with a mediator at least once before making an application to determine a financial settlement through the courts.
We can make a referral on your behalf to a suitable mediator.
Find out more about mediation.
what is collaborative law?
Collaborative law is a way for couples to manage their divorce or separation in a more amicable way with the focus on finding a solution that works for both parties. Collaborative law involves a series of round-table meetings known as four-way meetings, with expert family lawyers to guide you through the process.
Couples can also use the process to reach Pre-Nuptial, Cohabitation and Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements.
The process can resolve financial matters as well as issues concerning children. It is designed to avoid determining these issues at court.
what are the benefits of collaborative law?
- It gives you control over issues relating to your family.
- It provides a safe and confidential environment in which you can both can express your concerns and negotiate an agreement.
- It avoids court-litigation and the need to attend court.
- It helps you maintain a working relationship, which can be important if you have children, or share social or business networks.
- It is a non-aggressive process.
You will always have one of our collaboratively trained lawyers by your side to help advise and guide you through the process.
contact (how often the child spends with each parent).
Contact is considered the right of the child, rather than the parent. Disputes often arise in relation to children; such as who they live with and how often they see each parent.
We can help you to agree contact arrangements with your former partner or spouse and if a dispute arises, we can guide and help you through any necessary court application.
residence (where the child lives).
Residence is often mistakenly referred to as ‘custody’ and is concerned with where the children live. This does not have to be one place.
We can help you agree where the children live, or if an agreement cannot be reached, we can guide and represent you in any court application.
If you feel that there is a very real risk that your partner or spouse may abduct your child, we can help you to take the urgent and necessary steps to prevent this. Or, if the abduction has already taken place, we can issue an urgent application at court for your child to be returned.
In these cases, prompt action is key and we would recommend that you seek legal advice immediately.
If you do wish to leave the country with your child, you need the consent of every person who has parental responsibility. If consent is not given – for holiday or a more permanent relocation – then the court will need to grant leave. We can help you with the process of obtaining leave and guide you as to what evidence will be needed to persuade the court to grant leave. Taking the law into your own hands is not the best way forward.
Sometimes disputes can arise in relation to
- medical issues
- religious concerns
- surnames of children
We can help you to resolve these issues and if an agreement cannot be reached, we can guide and represent you in any necessary court application.
what is the difference?
Adoption is a permanent arrangement where links with the child’s birth family are cut and the new adoptive parents take full responsibility for the child. Adoption can occur with the agreement of the birth parent(s) or more typically where a local authority has taken temporary care of a child and wishes to find them a permanent home.
Special Guardianship is less permanent; it gives the guardian the exclusive right to make parental decisions on behalf of the child even if these override the birth parents. Typically, the guardian will be a relative and is most appropriate where it is important for the child to retain a relationship with other family members, for example, with brothers and sisters.
how can we help?
- We can advise you on which of the options is the most suitable for you and the child.
- Both require an application to be made to court including persuasive legal arguments as to the benefit to the child. We can help you with this and ensure your application is viewed in the most positive light.
Please note that we do not deal with local authority care proceedings.
why chose Howell Jones?
- Experience – we are experienced in dealing with all matters relating to children from straightforward contact arrangements to the complexity of adoption and special guardianship. We have experience in dealing with all legal arrangements for children.
- Sensitivity and tact – these are difficult family issues. We can explain the range of options and how these will impact on the family as a whole including the future role of the various parties without bias or pressure.
Whether you and your partner are divorcing or separating, the division of financial assets must be decided and ideally recorded in a written settlement. A final settlement has far-reaching consequences and will deal with income, properties, lump-sum payments, pensions and other capital assets. Because of the importance of this settlement it should be professionally drawn up. It also ensures that the arrangements are intended to be in full and final settlement and that you are not open to claims in the future.
capital assets / property.
The main capital asset of the marriage is often the property in which the family live. Deciding whether the property should be kept or sold is an important factor in any financial settlement.
When divorcing or separating, it may be difficult to meet outgoings on your own. You may need to agree monthly payments to bridge any shortfall. Equally, you may want to take steps to minimise claims on your income.
There are different methods of dealing with splitting pensions, as this can be a valuable asset to secure your future.
We are committed to guiding you through this process expertly and sensitively in order to help protect your interests and secure a future for you and your children.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of age, gender, marital status, sexuality and ethnicity.
Domestic abuse takes many forms, but it is always about your abuser having control and power over you. Unsure of whether you or someone you’re close to is a victim of domestic abuse? These guidelines provide helpful advice.
We can help you and your children get protection from the courts from a violent partner or spouse (Non-Molestation Order) and keep you safe in your home (Occupation Order)
If you have received a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order from the court, we can advise you on how to deal with this in a sensible manner whilst taking steps to protect your position in respect of future proceedings in relation to the house and the children.
Find out more about these guidelines.