When it comes to your Family and Children, only the very best will do. Our team of experienced professionals are here to deliver just that.
We are one of the largest Family & Child Law Departments in the South East and our dedicated and specialist team of Family & Child Law Solicitors have expertise in dealing with individuals; adoption and fostering agencies; Courts and Family Law organisations both in the UK and abroad.
Prior to entering into a civil partnership, it is possible to draw up an agreement which will make provision for the possibility of future relationship breakdown.
The contents of such an agreement can be as specific as you wish to make them, however in order to have the best chance of being taken into consideration by a court in the event that the partnership is dissolved, it is generally best to restrict the contents of agreements to matters like the division of assets and other financial matters.
As family law specialists, our team can advise civil partners on the drawing up of such agreements and in the event that a relationship has broken down, on seeking dissolution of the partnership.
Child maintenance will most likely be a factor in court proceedings to divide assets following a divorce or family breakup where children are involved.
The parent who does not live with their child full time and who does not have day-to-day care of the child is known as the non-resident parent. They have a responsibility to pay child maintenance up until the child is 16 years old or 20 years old if they are in full-time education (but not higher than A level or equivalent).
There are four ways of arranging child maintenance:
Child maintenance can be agreed directly between the parties or through solicitors. If such an agreement is reached, this can be recorded on a private agreement form through the Child Maintenance Options (formerly called the Child Support Agency (CSA).
It is important to note however, that such an agreement is not legally binding and thus if the non-resident parent decides to stop paying the agreed maintenance, the resident parent cannot enforce the agreement.
If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the resident parent can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service. There is a calculator available on the CMS’ website to work out the weekly amount of child maintenance: http://www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator/y. However, there are certain situations when the Child Maintenance Service will not be able to assist, such as:
In these situations, an application to court will be required to address the issue of child maintenance.
The resident parent can apply to the court to have the private agreement or application to the CMS recorded in a Court Order called a Consent Order to make the agreement legally binding.
If the court makes the order and the non-resident parent fails to pay the maintenance agreed in the consent order, the court will have the power to enforce the order.
Under the Children Act 1989 a parent can apply to the court for child maintenance to be paid by way of periodical maintenance payments, a lump sum or by a transfer of property into the sole names of one of the parents.
When deciding an application the court will consider all information in the case and in particular the welfare of the child and will look at the following factors:
Any financial provision that the court orders will last until the child reaches the age of 18 unless they are still in full-time education or there are special reasons why the child maintenance should be continued, for example if the child has a disability.
At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Resident Parents trying to negotiate the complex Child Maintenance System.
Our expert Family Lawyers have decades of experience working across all aspects of Family Law and specialise in helping parents to get the support in the form of Child Maintenance payments that their children are entitled to. If you are involved in a Child Maintenance Claim or would like to discuss your options with our team of specialist Family Law and Child Maintenance Lawyers call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many types of living together arrangements and we are here to advise you on how best to protect your interests when going in to a new relationship and to help you sort things out if there are difficulties within your relationship.
You might want to consider either a pre nuptial or cohabitation (Living Together) agreement covering each person’s expectations, usually financial, but can include, within reason, anything you wish. We also have good experience of preparing post nuptial or separation agreements.
At MW Solicitors we firmly believe that it is your money and that you should wherever possible, be the one to decide how it should be divided with your former partner.
We strongly encourage out of Court settlements and our expert Family Lawyers are trained to help you use alternative ways of resolving issues such as collaborative law, mediation and arbitration.
Collaborative law is a process whereby you and your Solicitor work together with your former partner and his or her solicitor to resolve matters. You all sign up to an agreement to use the process and not to resort to the Courts. All the issues are decided at meetings at which everyone is present so that there can be every opportunity for ideas to be discussed and problems resolved with the direct assistance of your lawyers. There is still the need for parties to give full details of their financial circumstances, but the face to face structure means that everyone will more easily understood each other’s position and the chances of reaching agreement will be significantly improved as the likelihood of misunderstanding is minimised.
Any agreement ultimately reached will then be submitted to the Court for approval. We have solicitors who are trained to offer this service to our clients.
Mediation involves parties meeting with a trained mediator in an attempt to resolve the issues by full discussion. The mediator helps them to identify the key issues, but allows the focus to be kept on the issues that the parties consider to be important. The role of the mediator is to help parties to reach agreement and not to direct them towards a particular settlement. The parties are encouraged to obtain legal advice throughout the process so they understand the legal framework and that their agreement can be given legal force. Again the process requires parties to give full disclosure of their financial circumstances and the parties are then assisted to decide for themselves how they wish to resolve the issues rather than have a third party decide for them. The length of the process will depend on the number of issues to be resolved and the willingness of the parties to compromise with each other.
An agreement reached in mediation is not binding until it has been ratified in an order submitted to the Court for approval. We have solicitors who are trained as mediators and also have close contacts with external mediation services to enable us to offer our clients the most convenient solution for them.
The process of resolving disputes through the Courts can be a lengthy and expensive one and arbitration is a means of achieving a result in a more timely and cost effective manner. Parties can agree to have an issue resolved by an arbitrator who is usually a retired Judge or senior lawyer who will consider the financial information produced by the parties, hear evidence and make a decision. It is similar to the Court process but the decision is made by an arbitrator as opposed to a Judge, but the parties are not restricted by the rules of the Court process and can decide what issues are to be decided, what evidence is to be produced and the timescale for resolving the matter.
We have contacts with arbitrators and can able to refer direct should client’s wish to use this process.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is to "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those couples going through the breakup of a marriage or civil partnership.
Our team of dedicated Family Lawyers have years of experience dealing in all aspects of Family Law and can help you to resolve your dispute with your former partner in a pragmatic and cost effective way. If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Family Solicitors call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
In cases of domestic violence you need support and guidance immediately.
We will respond quickly and efficiently to any request for advice, assistance and representation.
We can help you to apply for an injunction following verbal abuse, violence or threats of violence or harassment (including through social media). This can be in the form of a non-molestation order, an occupation order or a Protection from Harassment order which can be obtained to not only protect you (and any children) from violence, but also to sort out who stays in the home.
Same day appointments are available for the most urgent of cases whenever possible, and we can often get to Court the same day.
At MW, our mission is To make quality legal services accessible to everyone, especially those at risk of domestic violence. If you would like to talk in confidence to one of our team of specialist family solicitors call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
When you are separating, a real concern for many couples is what the financial outcome of the split will be. Questions about, whether you'll be able to keep the house? or whether your children will have to change schools?, or can you afford to pay the bills?, and what will happen about pensions? are the kind of questions we are often asked.
If you and your partner are married or in a civil partnership and can't agree on how to split property and sort out your finances you can apply to the courts for a financial remedy.
The courts are able to make a range of orders for cash payments, transfer of property or other assets, maintenance and pension sharing. The position is not the same for unmarried couples who have been living together.
We would encourage you to come and see us for an initial meeting, so you fully understand your options. For most people a session with a mediator will be best before making an application to the court. We would work with you alongside that process. Mediation isn’t right for everyone, or sometimes things drag on or you just cannot reach agreement, so a court application is then necessary.
You and your partner will be required to:
The court sets a First Directions Appointment (FDA) before a District Judge about 12 weeks after you apply to court. The judge will identify the issues and make orders to get the information needed to sort them out, for example to value your assets. This has to be twelve weeks after the application is issued.
If things aren't sorted out at the FDA the next stage is the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment (FDR). You and your partner both attend this court hearing, where the District Judge, will encourage reach of you to reach an agreement on your finances and will usually indicate what he or she thinks would be a reasonable outcome. We will support you in preparing for the hearing and at court.
Only if the issues cannot be sorted out will there be a final hearing at a later date heard by a different District Judge who will hear evidence, consider the documents and give a judgment. It can be several months before a date for a final hearing. But it is possible to reach an agreement and submit a note of that agreement, called a consent order, to the judge for approval at any point. Most cases do resolve without a final hearing, which is expensive and stressful.
Some couples financial arrangements can be settled with a 'clean break', which means a lump sum payment and/or property transfer and no ongoing maintenance. A clean break ends the financial relationship between you and you partner. But support will still be payable for any dependent children. Sometimes there are not enough assets or another reason meaning regular maintenance payments from one person to the other is needed and then a clean break won’t be possible, these can be open-ended (during joint lives or until the person receiving the payments remarries or enters a new civil partnership) or for a fixed period of time.
At McMillan Williams, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who are going through a divorce or legal separation. Our solicitors are experts in all aspects of Divorce and Legal Separation including Mediation and Ancillary Relief. Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
The prospect of a Divorce can be extremely daunting. The investment of one’s life and commitment can make the inevitable sometimes feel like an extremely costly emotional challenge.
At MW Solicitors we are here to help you understand the process and to support you at every stage of a Divorce with a minimum amount of delay, stress and acrimony.
In England and Wales a divorce is granted on the grounds of “The irretrievable breakdown of ones marriage”. and is established by reliance on one of five facts:
The concept of a quickie divorce is a misnomer. The process is in essence the same regardless of what fact you rely upon save that with 2 years separation the consent of your Spouse is required.
Before a Petition for Divorce can be presented to the Court you and your Spouse or Civil Partner must have been married for a minimum of one year.
The party seeking a Divorce is the Petitioner and the party receiving the Divorce Papers is the Respondent.
A Petition for Divorce can be presented to the Courts in England and Wales even if you and your Spouse married abroad.
However, either one or both of you must have been habitually resident in England or Wales or have been domiciled in England and Wales for the prerequisite period of time prior to the presentation of the Petition to the Court. The jurisdiction of the Court can be difficult to understand but our expert Divorce Lawyers will be able to discuss this point with you during a Consultation Meeting.
Our Divorce Solicitors are experts and will employ methods of good practice. They will write to your Spouse before issuing Divorce Proceedings detailing the facts which are being relied upon for the Divorce and also dealing with who should pay the costs of the Divorce Proceedings.
Preparing and Issuing Court Papers
We will prepare the Divorce Petition and supporting documents. We will require the original Marriage Certificate which along with the Petition and appropriate documents will be lodged at the Court together with a Court fee that you will need to pay.
The Court will post the Divorce Petition to your Spouse together with an Acknowledgement of Service Form to complete. Your Spouse will have 8 days in which to return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court.
Failure to do so will result in our expert Divorce Lawyers taking the appropriate steps on your behalf to arrange alternate service of the Petition upon your Spouse or applying to proceed without further service.
Once an Acknowledgement of Service to the Petition has been returned by your Spouse, acknowledging that they do not intend to defend the Proceedings, an Application will be made on your behalf by our Experts for a Judge to consider your Divorce Proceedings as undefended.
However, if your Spouse chooses to defend the Proceedings your case will be contested and our specialised Divorce Lawyers will ensure that you understand the process and the cost implications.
If the Judge is satisfied that you are entitled to a Divorce a Certificate will be issued giving the date for the Decree Nisi to be pronounced. This is the first Decree you must achieve before the final Decree Absolute. If the Judge is not satisfied that you are entitled to a Decree we will receive the Judges Refusal Certificate and our specialist Divorce Lawyers will respond accordingly to the matters raised by the Judge in the Refusal Certificate.
There is no need for you to attend Court unless agreement has not been reached in relation to the legal cost of the Divorce Proceedings. If the matter falls to the Judge to decide the Court may set a separate date to deal with the issue of cost and our expert Divorce Lawyers will advise you accordingly.
An Application for Pronouncement of Decree Absolute can be made 6 weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the Decree of Divorce.
On pronouncement your marriage or Civil Partnership is legally dissolved. However pronouncement of Decree Absolute has serious financial consequences such as the loss of your Spouse’s pension on their death. As a result our expert Divorce Lawyers may advise you not to apply for Decree Absolute until any financial matters are either resolved between your Spouse and yourself or through an Order of the Court.
At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are going through the process of Divorce.
Our expert Divorce Lawyers have decades of experience and specialise in helping clients to resolve their divorce as pragmatically and as cost effectively as possible with the right financial outcome. If you are considering or have already made up your mind that you want a Divorce and would like to discuss your options with one of our specialist Divorce Solicitors, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever the nature of your dispute, you need it dealt with quickly and competently by understanding professionals
Whether through mediation and collaborative law, or court based proceedings, we can help find a resolution to your problems. You can talk to us in the strictest confidence, and we will work with you closely and sympathetically.
Depending on your situation you may be eligible for government funding called Legal Aid. Legal Aid is still available for a number of family cases, but if you are not eligible for Legal Aid you may want to consider the following:
Many people are put off instructing a solicitor because they are worried about the fees they will have to pay. We have created “Family Fee Choices” to deal with those concerns and make our fees as transparent as possible. We leave the choice of what you want to agree to pay to you, by offering you several alternatives. You simply decide which of our fee schemes works best for the level of legal support you feel you need and what fits your budget.