There is no such thing as a “normal” family or relationship. As a result, family related matters can get complicated. Family law covers a wide range of disputes and claims, and each case is unique to the individuals involved.
The legal term for “family” has also changed over time in response to societal changes. The legal definition for “family” has expanded to include people who are linked in other ways than by being blood-relatives or relations through marriage. For example, a family include two same-sex adults, or two people who are in a long-term relationship but are not married. To account for these changes, the law now considers other factors such as emotional ties and commitments when defining what it means to be a family.
What is family law?
Family law consists of three core branches: matrimonial, financial, and child law. Under these three areas of family law, there are numerous family-related issues where a family law solicitor will be able to provide you with legal support.
Family law disputes and cases that are managed in the judicial system include:
- Children matters
- Financial relief settlements
Other family related matters which are handled by this area of law include: cohabitation advice, civil partnership support, lasting power of attorney, will writing services, and sharia compliance.
Family law solicitors can provide you with trusted advice and support on various family matters. In short, they are there to help make a stressful time easier, and to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.
There are many ways that a family law solicitor can provide you with support. For example, a family law solicitor could help you by:
- Providing legal advice if you involved in a family law dispute such as a divorce.
- Drafting legal documents and assist with filing forms pertaining to family law matters such as cohabitation agreements.
- Providing court representation for disputes relating to family matters.
- Helping you negotiate financial settlement terms following a separation.
- Offering support with applying for a specific court order such as a child arrangement order.
When might you need a Family Law Solicitor?
Life is never a straight-forward journey. Occasionally in life, we will encounter conflict or uncomfortable situations that are beyond our personal control. With this in mind, you may experience several situations in life where you could benefit from engaging a family law solicitor.
In this guide, we will walk through some of the key family-related matters that a family law solicitor may help you with.
Divorce and relationship breakdown
According to recent divorce statistics by the Office for National Statistics, over 108,000 couples got divorced in the England and Wales in 2019.
Relationship breakdowns and divorce proceedings can be a sensitive and difficult time for all involved. Further to this emotional impact, the process of ending a marriage can also have a major financial impact on those involved.
As a result, seeking legal advice as soon as possible can help alleviate some of the stress involved. A family law solicitor will be able to help separating couples to agree upon a settlement that both parties are happy with. The matters agreed upon during separation and divorce proceedings include child arrangements, financial relief, and the sharing of marital assets.
You may not necessarily need to attend court to finalise your divorce. You can usually avoid having to go to court hearings if you and your partner can agree about children, money, property, and the reason for why the marriage has broken down. Obtaining legal support from an expert family law solicitor will make sure that your divorce or separation is as stress-free as possible.
Unfortunately, home life can be extremely difficult for some people. The Domestic Abuse Bill ensure that survivors of domestic abuse are supported in family matters. For example, special measures can be put in place for divorce court hearings allowing you to provide evidence via video or allowing you to attend the court via a separate entrance and waiting room.
If your marriage has reached its end, read our guide on how to get a divorce in the UK for more advice on the divorce procedure.
Following a relationship breakdown, you and your partner will likely need to come to an agreement on how to share your finances. Sorting out finances after a separation can be a complicated task for many couples.
Some individuals may be able to reach an agreement between themselves which they will just need a family lawyer to formalise. Others, however, will require more hands-on legal support in reaching a financial agreement.
In circumstances where both parties are unable to reach an agreement, it may be necessary to issue court proceedings where the Court will help with the “financial remedy” procedure where they will decide an equitable financial settlement. In all cases, experienced family law solicitors will be able to assist you with your financial settlement.
From April 2014, anyone applying to the courts for assistance in resolving disputes relating to child or financial matters is required to attend a meeting Mediation Information Assessment Meeting. It is important to note that a family mediator does not tell parties what to do. Instead, they help improve communication between the parties so as to help them reach an amicable agreement on their own. However, agreements made during a mediation are not legally binding or enforceable in court. If you do decide to go down this route, you should get a family law solicitor to finalise the agreement so that it can be used in court at a later stage as a Consent Order.
If you are unable to come to a financial agreement and must apply to Court for financial remedy, there are numerous things the Court will look at when making its decision. These include:
- Your assets, both now and potentially in the future
- Your needs, both now and potentially in the future
- Your standard of living before the relationship breakdown
- Your age and how long you were together for
- Any physical or mental disabilities either partner has
- The contribution each person made to the relationship, both in terms of financial contributions, child care and household responsibilities
Following on from this, there are several Orders that can be made in financial relief proceedings. These include periodical payments, a secured provision, lump sum money, transfer of assets, pension attachment, and pension sharing.
As with any family matter, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to financial relief cases. Therefore, it is important that you seek support from a family lawyer who can be trusted to provide empathic and expert support.
As a parent or guardian, protecting the wellbeing of your children will always be one of your main concerns. Therefore, it is no surprise that children matters are one of the core components of family law.
Although disputes regarding children can happen at any time during a relationship, they are most common during parental relationship breakdown or separation. At Ten Legal, our family lawyers are experienced in all matters concerning children and offer a sympathetic and sensitive approach to your situation. While safeguarding your children’s interests, we will also make sure that your rights as a parent are being met.
The types of issues handled under children matters include settling negotiations relating to where the child(ren) will live, arranging when the child(ren) will see the non-resident parent, and ensuring parental responsibility.
In circumstances where parents are unable to agree child arrangements between themselves, a family law solicitor can provide expert legal advice and assistance in finalising a suitable solution. If the dispute cannot be resolved Court proceedings can be issued, allowing a Judge to determine an Order.
Under the Children Act 1989, the Court can make the following Orders:
- Residence order – where the child should live.
- Contact order – specifying details for when the non-resident parent can see the child.
- Prohibited steps order – preventing an individual from taking specific steps, such as preventing a parent from taking the child to live in another country.
- Specific issue order – deciding on a specific issue relating to the individual dispute such as which school the child should attend.
Any Order made by the Court is done so in respect of the child by ensuring that the best interests and welfare of the child is the Court’s paramount consideration.
Other times when you may need a Family Law Solicitor
There are several ways a family law solicitor can support you outside of divorce, financial relief, and child matters.
One other way in which a family law solicitor can support you is by helping you prepare a Will. By preparing a Will, you can ensure that all your wishes are respected when you die.
Without a Will, the law will decide who should rightfully inherit your estate. This may not necessarily be the person(s) that you would have personally chosen. Along with preparing your Will, a family law solicitor can also help you update your existing Will to make sure that your current wishes are respected.
Another important family matter handled by family law solicitors is deciding Power of Attorney. A family law solicitor can help you prepare a Power of Attorney document which will designate a suitable person to handle your affairs if you lose the mental capacity to care for yourself.
The support provided by experienced family lawyers does not stop there. At Ten Legal, our caring team of family law solicitors can offer legal advice for cohabitation, civil partnership support, and legal assistance in Sharia compliance.
Trusted Family Law Solicitors in Manchester
If you think you may need legal solicitors with a family matter, reach out to our team of trusted and experienced family law solicitors. Specialising in Family Law cases, our family law solicitors approach each and every case with sensitivity and confidentiality. We understand that cases relating to Family matters can be extremely difficult and emotional for everyone involved.
Reach out to our family law team today to discuss your case and find out how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome.