Services

Divorce & Separation Solicitors

Helping families in crisis

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage is one of life’s most traumatic events. Couples often find it difficult to make arrangements for their children and the division of their finances at a time when emotions are running high.

We can help.

Our experienced and skilled team understands the difficulties you are facing, and will guide you expertly through them, providing sound advice and support to help you reach agreements that will enable you to move forward.

Financial issues

When couples separate there are usually financial issues to resolve. Depending on your situation, this can involve a court application for "ancillary relief" to resolve the division of capital assets (such as your house, pension sharing and maintenance). We will deal with the entire process for you, making sure we obtain all of the relevant financial information from your ex and securing the best result for your future. 

Providing for your children

If you have children, you will need to consider factors such as where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. This used to be known as ‘custody’ and ‘access’, or ‘residence’ and ‘contact’, but is now referred to as ‘child arrangements’ and ‘financial relief’.

First we’ll cut through the jargon, and then we’ll help you work through your options and advise you on reaching agreements that work for your family.

Civil partnerships & same-sex marriages

We can help people in civil partnerships or same-sex marriages to work through the issues around their finances, assets and any children they may have, and advise them on dissolving the partnership or ending the marriage.

Injunctions

We can help people in abusive relationships obtain injunctions to protect themselves and any children they have from further harm.

Mediation and other Alternatives to court

You don’t have to go through the courts to decide how you divide your money, property, possessions and look after your children. There are a number of alternatives to court, which enable you and your partner to decide, together – and with input, guidance and advice from our team – how best to deal with them. They include collaborative law, mediation and arbitration.

In April this year, the law changed, and now any couple who want to use the courts to resolve the issues surrounding their separation must first attend a compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

This doesn’t mean that you are being forced to use mediation if it isn’t right for you. It simply gives you an opportunity to talk through the alternatives to the court process with an experienced professional who can help you decide whether any of them are suitable for you.

To learn more about mediation and our services, our Mediation page offers more detail.

Get in touch with our divorce & separation lawyers in West Yorkshire

Speak to our divorce & separation law solicitors in Ossett, Wakefield or Garforth, West Yorkshire today by calling 01924 290 029 or ask a question using our online enquiry form.

Frequently asked questions

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?

It is not possible to begin divorce proceedings within the first year of marriage. Unfortunately, this means that no matter how difficult the circumstances, you have to wait until you have been married for over 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).

Covid-19 Frequently asked questions

One of my family members is symptomatic. Should I let my child go to their other parent?

This has to be a personal decision based on each family’s individual circumstances. The guidance of the court is clear in that the current restrictions do not mean children who live in two homes should generally be stopped from doing that, but if the child or a member of either family is vulnerable then this may be a reason to suspend or alter the arrangements and provided the reasons are clear and sensible the courts should not subsequently criticise the parent for making those decisions if agreement cannot be reached.

Can my divorce continue during the restrictions?

Yes. We are now using the court’s online system for divorce which means traditional paperwork is not necessarily required which enables us to deal quite easily with the process. In relation to finances, the courts are putting in place arrangements for hearings to be dealt with on the telephone or video links which is now working more effectively. We also have a fully working case management system which means we can easily communicate via email and paper files are not being relied upon.

Is mediation available during the restrictions?

Yes. We have the facilities to conduct mediations via video link. In practice this works well because people are forced to listen to the other person more effectively as we agree a process of muting the person who is not speaking. We are also now able to sign off forms electronically where mediation is assessed as unsuitable so that court applications can be made promptly where necessary.