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If there is an agreement between spouses or civil partners there are specific rules about how to ensure that you can later have that agreement approved by the court. We can guide you through the process and draw up an agreement that will follow those rules and enable you to have a clean break if possible.
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Divorce or Dissolution
The procedure for divorce (if married) or dissolution (if in a civil partnership) is the same. One party has to send in to the court a document called a Petition together with the Marriage or Partnership certificate and the Court fee. The court fee is currently £410. There is a scheme for remission of Court fees Court and Tribunal fees although the evidence requirements are very strict.
The Petition is how you tell the court that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. That is the only “Ground” for divorce or dissolution. Then you have to prove one of four facts:- behaviour such that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other, desertion for two years, two years separation with the consent of the other or five years separation. If you are in a heterosexual marriage you may also be able to rely on adultery.
We can advise you on the fact to use, depending on your particular circumstances and draw up the Petition for you and liaise with the court to steer the Petition through. So long as your soon-to-be-ex partner does not defend the action we can do this for a fixed fee of £750 + VAT £150 total £ 900.
Very often however we find that the divorce or dissolution is “the easy bit” ! What takes time and effort is separating yourselves practically and financially and sorting things out for the children.
Child Arrangement Order
If you cannot live with the other parent of your child, you will probably need to work out how you are going to manage time and money. The best solution is to talk to each other and decide what is best for the children. The next best is to get some help to work out a “parenting plan” There are good resources on the internet to help you think through all the issues. For example the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (usually shortened to CAFCASS) has a lot of useful information such as Help with parenting together after separation
One particular way of arriving at your parenting plan is to use a mediator who can help you talk and listen to each other. One of several umbrella organisations for mediators is the Family Mediation Council – see Find Local Mediator North London
If you cannot sort things out face to face then we can help you negotiate. It is sometimes helpful to understand what your legal rights and the children’s are, to strengthen you in negotiation, and letters (including emails) or phone calls from or between solicitors can help to cool things down.
If we think that there absolutely is no other way forward then we will advise you to ask the court to decide on arrangements, and that is when a Child Arrangement Order may come into place, covering who a child should live with and how much time a child should spend with each parent (and occasionally other family members). The court may require you to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, in which case you would go “back two steps” but perhaps it will help take you fellow parent “three steps forward” if they have been being unreasonable.
The court process consists of at least one more attempt to resolve your differences by discussion with the supervision of the Judge at court and the support of CAFCASS, then if need be CAFCASS may be asked to write a report for the Judge and you will be asked to file statements setting out your point of view. At the end a Judge can listen to each party and impose arrangements.
The court cannot however ordinarily make orders about money to be paid by one parent to the other to cover the cost of looking after the child. That is dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. Like the courts the CMS will do everything to persuade you to agree between you. There are clear guidelines with an on-line calculator available.
Paying for Family Law Help
Although Legal Aid is not available through us for family problems, we try to keep our charges reasonable and to have some “special offers” for particular circumstances.
- At our Clinic (on a Wednesday) an hour’s advice will cost £75 including VAT, payable on the day at the start of the session
- So long as your soon-to-be-ex partner does not defend the Petition we will act in a divorce with no foreign element for a fixed fee of £ 750 + VAT £150 total £900 in addition to the £410 court fee (grand total £1,310.00)
- We will happily work to a budget, usually by agreeing to advise you on a session-by-session basis for £216.00 per hour including VAT, again payable in advance .
We are always happy to bill you regularly so that you can keep control of the costs and do not run up large bills.
Family Law Clinic
£75 for a one-hour family law consultation
Every Wednesday a Family Law Solicitor will be available at this office.
Know what the Law can do for you so you can plan your future:
- Get advice on your rights if your relationship has broken down.
- Can you get maintenance, stay in your home?
- Who will your children live with, how much time can they spend with you?
Wednesdays 10:00am to 4:00pm
To book your appointment visit our office reception, or call 0208 342 5800.
VAT no 221 0470 24
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Emergency 24hr telephone number for police station assistance: 07767 497 423
We practise in England and Wales and we are a solicitor's practice regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA no 312864.
VAT no 221 0470 24