Family Law FAQs

Clients frequently come to us with questions regarding divorce and separation, matrimonial finances, children and other family matters. Our specialist legal advisors are members of Resolution and are committed to promoting a constructive approach to family issues that considers the needs of the whole family. Our family advisors provide a friendly and high standard of service to all our clients to try and resolve matters outside of Court. 

Divorce

If your relationship breaks down you may have a lot of questions and not know where to start. We have put together a list of the questions clients have asked us when they are preparing for a divorce to help get you started:-

What are the grounds for divorce?

In England and Wales there is only one ground for divorce: that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.  In order to prove this to the Court you must show one of five facts to be true. The five facts are:  

  1. You have lived apart for at least 5 years 
  2. You have lived apart for over 2 years and are both in agreement to the divorce 
  3. Your partner has committed adultery 
  4. Your husband or wife has deserted you for at least 2 years 
  5. Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot be expected to live with them 

Will I have to go to Court for a divorce? 

It is not very often that a party to a divorce petition is expected to attend court in relation to the divorce itself. The divorce process is generally administrative. At the time you are divorcing there may well be other matters that need to be considered, such as arrangements for children and financial matters. These issues may require you to attend court but if you instruct a solicitor who is a member of Resolution then they will encourage a non-confrontational process wherever possible and consider with you alternatives to court such as reaching an agreement between yourselves, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. 

How long does a divorce take? 

This timescale will vary in each case depending on circumstances but provided everything runs smoothly, is straightforward and the solicitors you each instruct are efficient then the conclusion could be reached in 6 months. If there are other matters being dealt with alongside the divorce, such as financial issues, then there may be circumstances in which a delay in finalising your divorce is appropriate. 

How much does a divorce cost and who pays for a divorce? 

The solicitor you have instructed will be able to provide an estimated cost at the outset including any anticipated disbursements. 

In order to start a divorce there is a fee of £550 payable to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service but there may be assistance available if you have a lower income or are in receipt of benefits.  

With regards to who foots the bill, it is best to reach an agreement regarding the costs of the divorce at the outset to avoid any conflict. Depending on what grounds your divorce petition is based on and the individual circumstances surrounding this you may be able to apply to have some or all of your costs covered by your husband or wife. If you are hoping for these to be covered by your husband or wife then it is best to discuss this with the solicitor you instruct during your first consultation. 

Do I need a solicitor for a divorce? 

There is no requirement to instruct a solicitor to represent you in a divorce. It is something you should strongly consider, however. Instructing a solicitor provides you with benefit of receiving professional, tailored advice. Where there are other matters to consider alongside the divorce such as arrangements for children or financial issues then this advice can be particularly important, as can knowing that any documentation has been properly prepared.   Whether it would be beneficial for you to instruct a solicitor is completely down to your individual circumstances and something you can discuss with a solicitor you are considering instructing. 

If you’re not getting on with your partner or are already separated you may be worried what effect that could have on your children.

Here we answer some of the most asked questions that have arisen in regards to separation during the lockdown.

  • What can parents do if they want to separate during the lockdown?
  • How can parents ensure that their children aren’t too affected by a separation or rift in the relationship?
  • Can children move between parental homes during lockdown?
  • Are child custody courts open?

What can parents do if they want to separate during the lockdown?

Whether full separation is possible depends on the situation. Certainly, if there’s an aspect of domestic abuse, the victim can leave the house if they are at risk.

In another case, if a bad relationship is negatively impacting children, the parents should consider if there’s a feasible option for full separation during this time.

It’s important to try to manage the situation in the best way you can if you’re not able to separate for the sake of your mental health and your children’s wellbeing.


How can parents ensure that their children aren’t too affected by a separation or rift in the relationship?

The first thing to remember is that children pick up on things, so any necessary adult discussions should take place when they’re not around.

With lockdown putting extra pressure on relationships, it’s not difficult to find yourself in an unhappy or potentially volatile situation with a partner.

To prevent a build-up of tension in the house, take time for yourself and find some breathing space. You could go outside for a walk or have a socially distanced meet-up with friends.

When parents start to argue or split up, children may assume they are to blame. If your children are aware of your situation, reassure them that it’s nothing to do with them and that you both still love them. The Cafcass website provides guidance on separation which may help.


Can children move between parental homes during lockdown?

The government has declared that this is allowed, however, this doesn’t apply if one of the parents is classed as ‘vulnerable’ and in self-isolation.


Are child custody courts open?

Courts are still operating and have adapted the way they work to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some cases are being postponed until after the lockdown to minimise risk if they are not deemed a priority.

They are also conducting telephone and video hearings, whilst still maintaining the same privacy and security as ordinary hearings in court. How hearings should be conducted is taken on a case-by-case basis.


To discover more about how our family law solicitors can help you, please make a no obligation enquiry by either calling us on 01297 32345 or by making a free online enquiry