When emotions are running high, it is easy for your heart to rule your head. Family and relationship issues can be very distressing, and the decisions and actions you take now can have far-reaching effects. So you need help and advice from someone who understands how you’re feeling, but can take a sensible, pragmatic view. Our solicitors qualify on both counts. They are genuinely caring people who will offer a shoulder to lean on. And they are extremely experienced in all family matters, from divorce to children’s issues to complex financial arrangements. They also liaise closely with solicitors in our other departments when business interests, investments or issues with wills and taxation arise. This efficiency helps get things resolved quickly and keeps costs to a minimum All in all, they will help you see things clearly and make the best decisions for a happy and secure future.
When Social Services have concerns about a family, they must take steps to ensure that children are kept safe. Sometimes it becomes necessary for social workers to be involved with the family and we can help at all stages of the legal process surrounding public law applications to the court and care proceedings, from the initial case conference through to care proceedings. We offer legal advice to parents of children or to same sex couples with children who are subject to social work involvement, but we also offer advice to grandparents and other extended family members who may wish to care for the children if they cannot return home. Whether the Local Authority is applying for a care order or a supervision order, where there is to be a case conference or a pre proceedings meeting or where you simply need advice about children who are in foster care, then we have a dedicated team who can advise you. We can also help you to respond to police protection orders or emergency situations and court hearings if necessary. We can also assist in the surrounding areas such as Children & Local Authorities, Child Protection Registers and Post Care Proceeding matters.
In many cases, the arrangements for children, whether in the context of marriage or outside it, can be handled amicably either between the parties or by timely negotiation between the lawyers. When disputes over children arise, they can be one of the most destructive aspects of divorce or relationship breakdown, and it is vital to handle them sensitively. The interests of the children are paramount in English law. Constructive negotiation should be focussed around that premise. The client has to be prepared for court welfare reports and for sworn statements to be made by third parties about their competence as parents. This can be very worrying, and requires calm, sensible handling by the lawyer. Both parties need to be assisted to think creatively about how to work things out in a way which gives everyone, especially the children, what they need in terms of relationship, a home, financial support, care and contact. Failing agreement, we take cases forward to court with carefully targeted evidence and considered argument. When particular points are disputed, such as schooling, religion, name changes, foreign travel, contact with new partners, etc., a lawyer must be ready to help the client to achieve a sensible, practical solution, through negotiation or through the courts. Successful arrangements for children will result in a good balance of quality care for the children with the right people, and minimal emotional damage. In even the bitterest divorces, parents can cooperate with their former partners to put the children’s welfare first and spare them a lot of the heartache. We are geared to facilitate that. Relationship breakdown does not have to destroy anyone’s life.
Divorce itself is usually the simplest part of marriage breakdown. If handled sensibly, it normally passes through by consent. However there are a few issues that need to be carefully handled: Is this a permanent breakdown or can it be worked out? If the latter, what measures need to be taken to safeguard the client’s interests while he/she tries? We believe it is important to listen to the client and find out what they really want, then set out the options within the whole context. The last thing a client needs is for the first meeting with their matrimonial solicitor to start an express train which may take them somewhere they didn’t plan to go. If the couple can’t stay together, what next? Does the client want divorce, or does he/she want to consider alternative forms of separation? Are there any complications, such as religious considerations or foreign law, or possible defects in the validity of the marriage, to be addressed?
How is the divorce itself to be handled?
Divorce starts with a petition, which is one party’s list of the facts on which he/she says the marriage breakdown is based. It’s important for your divorce lawyer to strike the right balance between getting the necessary facts across and avoiding unnecessary bad will. We have the experience to draft the right level of petition, and to negotiate having it agreed by the other side to avoid unnecessary hostility and excessive costs.