Family Law

Family life doesn’t always go as planned. And when challenges present themselves, it is important to know where to turn for support.

Within Chattertons is a team of approachable and committed family law solicitors who advise on the many facets of all sorts of family set-ups. We help couples in the early days of their relationship put in place cohabitation agreements. We advise on pre and post nuptial agreements. And of course we steer families through the difficult process of divorce and separation, and civil partnership dissolution.

Our main areas of expertise include:

  • Cohabitation
  • Pre and post-nuptial agreements
  • Divorce and separation
  • Civil partnerships and dissolution
  • Arrangements for children
  • Financial settlements
  • Divorce and business assets
  • Independent financial advice via Chattertons’ Wealth Management team.

Our family law solicitors are thorough and robust in their approach to getting a fair outcome for our clients. But we are also sensitive to the ongoing relationships that must continue to exist, and so we act in a way that is constructive and co-operative, as well as cost effective.

Your individual circumstances will not be the same as those of others. So our family law advice will always be relevant and personal to each client. We will listen to your story, and will explain your legal position in a way that will make sense to you. We will answer your questions, and we will be by your side as the legal process runs its course. 

Clients often ask us....

Who will deal with my case?

We have a large team of experienced family law solicitors, any one of whom will be able to advise you. You will have a single point of contact, backed up by a team that will also be up to speed on your case.

Individuals within the family law team are members of Resolution - the family lawyers’ association - and are Law Society Family Law accredited.  This is a mark of our experience and expertise. Our family law solicitors also have great relationships with barristers’ chambers and with mediators, so if your case requires the involvement of other experts we can arrange that.  

Is there any point in having a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial may not be the most romantic of gestures, but it can be a valuable, practical tool for protecting assets in the event of divorce. These agreements set out the way in which a couple’s assets should be split if the marriage does not last. And, while they are not legally binding, it is quite common for their terms to be enforced – or to at least be influential when it comes to a court deciding who should get what.

We are divorcing. Do I have to go through mediation?

No, mediation is voluntary. However, we usually advise clients to give it a go. A mediator is an independent third party, often able to help a divorcing couple reach agreement on issues around money or children, for example. In cases of a successful mediation, the court will not have to get involved.

What reasons will I have to give in order to divorce my husband?

There are only certain grounds on which a couple can divorce. These are:

  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Adultery;
  • Desertion;
  • Living apart for more than two years, an both parties agree to the divorce; or
  • Living apart for more than five years, where one party does not agree to divorce.

You also need to have been married for at least 12 months before being eligible to divorce.

What if my partner and I can’t agree where our children should live?

In every divorce, the parties are encouraged to put the needs of their children above all else. That is the approach that the court will take if it is asked to step in and decide whether a divorcing couple’s children should live with mum or with dad, and how the arrangement for contact with the other parent should look.

It is not necessarily the case that a court would decide that the children should live with their mother. The decision should involve a thorough assessment of what would be in the children’s best interests. It is quite often difficult for parents to step back and view this from anything other than their own perspective. That’s entirely understandable. But it is important to bear in mind that where the parties cannot agree, and if mediation proves unsuccessful, the decision will be placed in the hands of a judge.

Will I get half of my husband’s pension?

Not necessarily. As with other assets of the marriage, a pension is something that could be shared. However, there are other ways of dealing with pensions, and each partner’s individual circumstances – not least their own financial position – would be assessed as part of the court’s decision (if the parties cannot agree between themselves).

I have been living with my partner, in her house, and we are now splitting up. We are not married. Will I be entitled to anything?

Cohabitees, or ‘common law husbands and wives’, do not enjoy the same rights as married couples. Although children will be protected largely as if their parents had been married, assets are not usually split on the same basis. And if the family home is in the sole name of one partner, the other will need to prove that they are entitled to share – something that is most commonly demonstrated by evidence that they had been promised a share, or that they helped to fund the purchase price. It is the reason we advise all cohabiting couples to enter into a cohabitation agreement that sets out each parties entitlement in the event that the relationship does not last.

My daughter-in-law will not let us see our grandchild. Is there anything we can do?

Yes, you may be able to apply to the court for an order entitling you to contact with your grandchild. You should speak to a family law solicitor and discuss with them the best course of action. 

Contact us

If you would like to talk to a member of our specialist Family Law team please contact your local office or complete our online enquiry form.