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.

Why should I consult a Family Law solicitor?

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.

What if I cannot afford a solicitor?

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.

What do I need to bring to the first meeting?

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.

How long will the first meeting last?

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.

Can the first meeting take place over the phone?

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).

Is everything we talk about confidential?

Yes! Protection of confidential information is fundamental to our relationship with our clients, both as a matter of law and ethics.

Everything is agreed, can you act for both me and my spouse?

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.

Can I bring a friend to the first meeting?

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.

Can I bring my children to the first meeting?

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.

General Family Law FAQs

What are the grounds for divorce? What is No Fault divorce?

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, came into effect in April 2022, making No Fault divorce the new divorce law. This has replaced the necessity to prove grounds for divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership. No Fault divorce simplifies the process, allowing couples to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, without having to produce any evidence of bad behaviour.

For the first time people will be able to apply jointly, as well as solely, for divorce or dissolution, and the law has removed the ability to defend the decision to divorce or end a civil partnership, meaning the other party will not be able to dispute whether the marriage has broken down. It is hoped that this will reduce the scope for added hostility, making it easier for couples to focus on how they divide their assets and most importantly, the care of any children.

What are the grounds for dissolving a civil partnership?

The grounds for dissolving a civil partnership are the same as for divorce, as outlined above.

How long does a divorce take?

To begin the divorce process, you must be married for at least 12 months, have a permanent home in the UK and your marriage must be recognised in the UK. Once a couple has applied for a divorce, there is a wait of 20 weeks before they can apply for a Conditional Order (formerly Decree Nisi). This cooling off period allows for a period of reflection and the resolution of financial and children arrangements. Once the Conditional Order has been made by the court, you must wait six weeks and one day (43 days) before applying for a Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute), which legally ends the marriage.

What type of court orders can be made regarding children?

The main types of orders that can be made in relation to children are:

  • A Child Arrangements Order – this confirms the arrangements relating to a child or children, specifically regarding who they are to live with and what contact they are to have with the other parent.
  • A Prohibited Steps Order – this limits when certain parental rights and duties can be exercised. For example, a prohibited steps order may prohibit the removal of a child from the address at which they are residing, or may prohibit a parent from removing them from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
  • A Specific Issue Order – this contains directions to resolve a particular issue in dispute in connection with the child, such as a dispute related to their education, their religion or whether they should be permitted to go on a particular holiday.
  • A Parental Responsibility Order – this can be made in order to grant a father parental responsibility for their child where they do not already have it and the other parent will not agree to them having it.

What is Parental Responsibility?

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.

What are my rights to see the children?

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.

How do I seek child maintenance from my ex-partner?

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.

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