At NR Legal we understand that a relationship breakdown is a very difficult time for those involved. We also understand that no two relationships, let alone people, are the same. It is for that reason that we offer specialist advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We offer an initial consultation to all new clients.
There are often, however, general queries with regard to family law matters and we will therefore address those frequently asked questions and provide you with some idea as to how matters will progress.
Divorce / Dissolution of Civil Partnerships
Not all unhappy relationships end in divorce or dissolution. There are some situations where all that is required is for the parties to communicate more effectively with each other and in that regard we can help you find the specialist counseling you need.
However, should that not be appropriate a person may petition for a divorce or a dissolution in a civil partnership from their spouse or partner after they have been married for a period of at least 1 year.
The Court must be satisfied on any petition for divorce or dissolution that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. You must refer to one of a list of facts when satisfying the Court that the relationship has irretrievably broken down:
- Adultery (not applicable in relation to Civil Partnerships)
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion for 2 or more years
- Separation for 2 or more years (and both parties’ consent)
- Separation for 5 years or more.
The purpose of our first interview with you is to allow us to advise you on whether we think you may petition for divorce or dissolution and further which fact is the most appropriate for your circumstances.
It may be that you do not wish to divorce, and in those circumstances we can consider legal separation. You can legally separate by entering into what is known as a Separation Agreement, which is a contract between you and your spouse which will include the terms upon which you agree. The agreement can deal with financial matters and in relation to any children of the relationship. Frequently the agreements refer to divorce at some time in the future. A Separation Agreement is however reliant upon both parties agreeing to the terms. If an agreement is unlikely to be reached then an application to the Court will probably be needed in either divorce or dissolution proceedings, or proceedings for judicial separation.
Judicial Separation is rarely used although we do offer full advice in this regard should you require it.
Where there are divorce proceedings, parties can reach agreement with the help of mediation and / or solicitors’ advice and in those circumstances the agreement can be drawn up into what is known as a Consent Order, which will then be considered by a District Judge.
In some circumstances, the parties cannot reach an agreement and the District Judge will therefore assist the parties in producing the necessary financial disclosure to the Court in trying to explore the possibilities of negotiation and, if necessary, hearing oral evidence from both parties and thereafter making a Court Order.
How do you know what is fair? What will the Court take into account?
We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice in relation to financial matters. This forms part of our specialist approach here atNR Legal. Both you and your spouse may have financial claims over the income, pension and assets of the other and your claims remain open unless you are a Respondent to divorce proceedings and you remarry, or your claims are formally dismissed by the Court. It is therefore very important that these matters are addressed.
The matters to which the Court must have consideration are as follows:
- The income, earning capacity. Property and other financial resources that each party has;
- Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities now and in the future of each party;
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
- The age of each party and the length of the marriage;
- Any physical or mental disability of either party;
- The contributions which each party has made to the marriage;
- The Conduct of each of the parties if inequitable to disregard it;
- Any benefit which may be lost to either party by dissolving the marriage.
To advise you we will need full information as to both your and your spouse’s financial circumstances. Do not worry. We would not expect you to have all of this information at your first appointment with us. This is a matter that we will help you with during the divorce and the ancillary relief proceedings. However, we will be able to advise you considering the factors referred to above and previous case-law so that you will have an outcome tailored to your circumstances and needs.
It is important to determine whether you have parental responsibility for your child. Parental Responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child. It gives the parent the responsibility of taking all the important decisions in the child’s life including education, religion and medical care. It also enables a parent to make day-to-day decisions in relation to nutrition, recreation and outings. The duties involved in parental responsibility will change from time to time as the child grows older.
If you are married, both you and your spouse will have parental responsibility for any children of the marriage. Mother’s automatically acquire parental responsibility upon the birth of their children. If you are an unmarried father and are registered on the child’s birth certificate after 1st December 2003 then you will have acquired parental responsibility for your child.
If this does not apply to you, you will need advise on how to obtain parental responsibility for your child.
It is widely accepted that parents are the best people to decide with whom their children should reside and when they see their non-resident parent. If however an agreement can not be reached, either parent can make an application for residence and contact and other orders pursuant to the Children Act 1989. We can give you full information and advice in this regard.
For further information please call us on 020 509 1681 or email us.