Family life doesn’t always go as planned. 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 a range of family law issues. We help couples in the early days of their relationship put in place cohabitation agreements, which will set out your arrangements clearly to avoid misunderstandings if the relationship was to break down. We advise on pre and post nuptial agreements to protect assets in a case where one party enters the marriage with significant pre-acquired wealth. Of course we also steer families through the difficult process of divorce and separation, and civil partnership dissolution.
Our main areas of family law expertise include:
- Cohabitation disputes and cohabitation agreements
- 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 and will work hard to achieve a fair outcome for our clients. They are also sensitive to the family relationships that must continue to exist for the sake of children, and so 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. 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. The combined experience and expertise makes our family law team a force to be reckoned with. We can deal with complex and challenging cases. 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 agreement 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. 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 OBTAIN A DIVORCE?
There are only certain facts on which someone can rely in a divorce. The law in relation to this is changing, but currently these are:
- Unreasonable behaviour;
- Living apart for more than two years, and both parties agree to the divorce; or
- Living apart for more than five years.
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 or separation, 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 separating couple’s children should live with their mother or their father, and how the arrangements 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. However, 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 or magistrate.
WILL I GET HALF OF MY spouse'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 his or her 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, 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. In addition, 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 party’s entitlement in the event that the relationship does not last.
we are grandparents and we are not able to see the grandchildren because their parents are separating. IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO?
You may be able to apply to the court for an order entitling you to contact with your grandchild, although you would need to seek the permission of the court to do so. You should speak to a family law solicitor and discuss with them the best course of action.