Our legal advice is tailored to your personal circumstances and we will do our best to answer all of your questions when we meet.
Here are the answers to some of the more practical questions that we are frequently asked.
Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors fully appreciate how difficult and intimidating the process of consulting a solicitor can be, particularly when it comes to issues of separation and divorce, but it is vital that people get the right information at such a critical time in their lives. The emotional and financial costs of separation and divorce cannot be underestimated and decisions made at the beginning of the process can have a huge impact on the outcome. Therefore, it is important to base decisions on the best information available, which we can provide. We will always be realistic and honest with you.
Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors keeps fees and charges highly competitive and offers a fixed fee for undefended divorce proceedings. Depending on the circumstances we may be able to accept payment by instalments. We will keep you informed about your costs as the matter goes on so that you stay in control.
If you are on a very low income and there are special circumstances, such as domestic violence, you may be entitled to legal aid, please visit https://www.gov.uk/legal-aid for more information.
We will need to verify your identity at the first meeting so please bring with you some photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence and also a utility bill or bank statement, with your address on, which is less than 2 months old.
If you wish to discuss divorce proceedings it will be useful if you can bring your marriage certificate.
In order to discuss financial matters it will be helpful if you have an idea of your financial position, for example your outstanding mortgage, balances of bank accounts and your income position. We do not need to see documentary proof at the first meeting.
If you have received any letters or documents from the court or another solicitor we will need to see those.
Our initial fixed fee meeting usually lasts for an hour which gives us time to take all of the details we need from you and advise you about your specific situation. If your matter is particularly complex then we may need more time with you and this can be arranged. If your circumstances are straight-forward then you may be with us for less than an hour.
We prefer to meet face to face for the first meeting as we feel that it is the best way to begin our working relationship. Thereafter it is unlikely that you will need to come into the office very often, if at all, as the case proceeds. The majority of our communication will be done by telephone, video call, email or post, whichever you prefer.
For those wishing to avoid a face to face meeting as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, we are happy to conduct your first meeting by telephone or video call (please see below).
Throughout the pandemic we have adapted our working practices in accordance with Government and health expert guidelines. We always have staff based in the office, which includes both solicitors and administrative staff. Those working remotely have access to their files, case management systems, phones and diaries, allowing them to continue to provide a seamless service to our clients. For those wishing to avoid face to face meetings, appointments can be conducted via telephone or video call. For those wishing to come into the office, we have a large conference room which opens directly onto the car park. Fitted with protective screens and with a plentiful supply of PPE, the room is ideal for social distancing.
Yes! Protection of confidential information is fundamental to our relationship with our clients, both as a matter of law and ethics.
Unfortunately, we are not allowed to act for both of you, even if matters are agreed, since there is the potential for a conflict of interest. We always seek to act in our client’s best interests and that may be impossible if we are acting for both parties. If appropriate, we are happy to recommend other lawyers, who we know are reasonable and take the same approach as us, to your spouse.
Of course, a close friend or relative can offer invaluable support to you at what may be a difficult time. Please do keep in mind that we may need to take quite detailed personal information in the first meeting so only bring someone that you are happy will hear this.
Preferably not, given the sensitive information being discussed we prefer that children do not attend the appointment with you, as even young children can pick up on what is being said. It is generally best that children not be involved in these matters. Also it may be difficult for you to fully concentrate and take in our advice if children are present. However, if it is impossible for you to attend without your children we will do our best to accommodate that.
The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which can be based on one of the following five facts:
From 6th April 2022, no-fault divorce will become law. This will allow couples to simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down without having to produce any evidence of bad behaviour. It is hoped that this will reduce the scope for added hostility and make it easier for couples to focus on how they divide their assets and most importantly, the care of any children.
The grounds for dissolving a civil partnership are the same as for divorce, although adultery cannot be given as a reason to obtain a dissolution. Having said that, the circumstances that can give rise to adultery could be used as an example of unreasonable behaviour.
Due to delays with the Court, divorce proceedings are currently taking at least 6-8 months to conclude. There are various reasons why a divorce may take longer including a lack of co-operation from the other party or a desire to finalise financial matters before concluding the divorce.
Whilst divorcing on the basis of 2 years separation is not necessarily quicker or cheaper than proceeding on another basis (as the same procedure needs to be followed), the advantage is that neither party needs to make any allegations against the other, as they would if proceeding on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This avoids the risk of inflaming the situation and furthering conflict as a result of such allegations and increases the likelihood of the divorce proceeding by agreement.
This therefore reduces the risk of the respondent defending the divorce or failing to co-operate, which can lead to considerable delay and additional expense. It should be noted however that proceeding with a divorce on the basis of 2 years separation does also require the other party’s express consent. Otherwise, it is necessary to wait for 5 years separation.
The main types of orders that can be made in relation to children are:
Having parental responsibility is something that recognises your rights and responsibilities as a child’s parent. It means that you have the right to be informed about and consulted regarding important decisions involving the child such as in relation to education or medical treatment. Parental responsibility does not, however, give either party any automatic rights in relation to issues such as contact or the children’s living arrangements.
If a parent is being refused contact with their children and mediation has not been able to help resolve the issue, then an application can be made at Court for a Child Arrangements Order seeking contact. The Court will take into account all of the circumstances of the case and make whatever Order they consider appropriate with the child’s welfare being the paramount consideration. In general, the Courts consider it in a child’s best interests to have regular contact with both parents.
In general, the Child Maintenance Service has jurisdiction to deal with child maintenance matters (assuming the non-resident parent does not earn more than £156,000 gross per year). There is an online calculator that can be used to estimate what level of child maintenance should be payable which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance .
This calculator is often used as a guide for separated parents, but it is preferable for parents to then agree and arrange the payments between themselves. If no agreement can be reached then the primary carer for the child or children can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service for a formal assessment to be carried out and for payments to be collected if necessary. It should be noted however that there will be additional costs to both parents if it is necessary to involve the Child Maintenance Service in this way.
We know how difficult divorce and separation can be, so we offer an initial one hour fixed fee consultation with a fully qualified lawyer, to help you make an informed decision about how to proceed.
To book, please call 01444 472700 or complete the quick contact form.