Family Law

How long does a divorce generally take?

A straightforward divorce case will usually take between 4 to 6 months to complete. However, this can be significantly longer if there are financial matters to be resolved, especially if the matters are not agreed.

Can I get a divorce if we have been separated for less than a year?

Proceedings for divorce cannot be commenced within the first year of marriage. This is an absolute bar and means that no matter how difficult the circumstances, you have to wait for at least one year before you are able to apply for a divorce. As soon as the first year of marriage has elapsed then you are able to petition for divorce and the relevant documentation can be prepared before the end of the year so that the petition can be filed at the earliest possible opportunity. If your individual circumstances mean waiting until the year has elapsed would be intolerable there are other alternatives such as judicial separation, making an application for a non-molestation order and/or an occupation order or an application under the Married Women’s Property Act.

What is a CAO?

A Child Arrangement Order (CAO)is an order that regulates who a child lives with and spends time with. They came into effect in 2014, replacing the old contact and residence orders. A CAO can detail very specific arrangements for the child or it can be more open with detailed arrangements to be made between the parties by agreement. If a CAO states that a child lives with a particular person then that person will have Parental Responsibility for that child until the expiration of the Order. There are a variety of persons who are entitled to apply for a CAO including parents, step-parents, guardians or anyone with whom the child has been living with for the past three years. Other people may apply for a CAO for a child if they obtain the consent of everyone with parental responsibility of obtain the permission of the Court. A CAO will end, at the latest, upon the child reaching the age of 18 however this can be shorter if a care order is made in respect of the child.

What is Collaborative family Law?

Collaborative Family Law is a process which enables you to resolve your dispute without going to Court. The process involves you, your Solicitor, your former partner and their Solicitor sitting down together in an attempt to resolve the issues and reach a settlement. This process is often much more advantageous to certain individuals as you remain in control of the process and have your legal representative present for any advice or guidance required. In addition, you are able to set the agenda of the meeting and work at a pace which is most comfortable for you.

If I leave the family home during divorce negotiations, will this put me in a weaker position?

If the family home is registered in the joint names of you and your former partner, then choosing to leave the family home during divorce negotiations will not put you in a weaker position. From a tactical point of view, there may be strong reasons to remain in the family home throughout the course of the negotiations. However, this will depend on your individual circumstances and it is best to seek advice from a Solicitor regarding this.

How much will it cost for me to get a divorce?

In order to get a divorce, we would charge a fixed fee of £500 plus VAT to deal with the divorce on your behalf. In addition to this, there is a standard Court fee of £550.00 for filing the divorce. You may be able to claim a reduction on the Court fee if you are on certain benefits or are on a low income.

As a father, do I automatically have Parental Responsibility for my children?

No, as the child’s father, you will only have automatic parental responsibility for your children if you were married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth or if you are named on the child’s birth certificate. If this is not the case then there are ways in which you can attain Parental Responsibility for a particular child and it is advised that you seek legal advice to discuss your options further.

What is mediation and do I have to attend?

Mediation is a way of dealing with a dispute outside of the Court process. It involves the appointment of a neutral third party (“the mediator”) who will assist the parties in reaching an agreement in respect of their dispute. The mediator is impartial and has no authority to make any decisions in respect of the parties issues. Their role is simply to help the parties reach an agreement through negotiation. Mediation is a voluntary process and so you are not obligated to attend. However, if you intend on making an application for a Child Arrangements Order, Specific Issue Order. Prohibited Steps Order or an application for a Financial Order then the law requires that you attend a ‘Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).