Family Law Solicitor


GC solicitors are looking for a Private Family Solicitor on either a full or part-time basis.
This is an excellent opportunity for a talented Private Family Solicitor to join an established practice.

Areas of work
  • Divorce and matrimonial finance
  • Private law children matters including financial
  • Pre-marital, post-marital and co-habitation agreements
  • Cohabitation disputes
  • Domestic violence

    The Candidate
  • Applications are encouraged from qualified Private Family Solicitors with a minimum of 3 years PQE ideally
  • Solid knowledge of all aspects of private family work is expected
  • It is essential you have excellent communication and client care skills
  • The successful solicitor will be proactive and organised in their approach and able to meet tight deadlines
  • Attention to detail and strong drafting skills are a necessity.
Keeping Calm with CAFCASS
So you are in involved in Family Court Proceedings and CAFCASS have been asked to prepare a report to assist the court. 
Who or what is CAFCASS? CAFCASS stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.  They represent children in family court cases in England and Wales. Their duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family justice system, putting children’s’ needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that children’s voices are heard in the process so  that decisions are made in their best interests.  CAFCASS workers are qualified and experienced social workers used to dealing with vulnerable children and their families.  They are also required to have particular expertise in safeguarding and be able to engage with children of all ages.
They are effectively the eyes and ears of the court for the purposes of ascertaining what is in the best interests of the child involved in one of several types of proceedings; divorce and separation, where parents are unable to agree arrangements for their children, care proceedings (also known as Public law Proceedings) where there are issues regarding the safety and well being of a child (and during which children may be removed from or returned to their families) and during adoption proceedings.  CAFCASS cannot offer legal advice and will not advise on any issues raised.
What should you expect from your visit from CAFCASS?  In order to hear from everyone involved in the proceedings CAFCASS will visit each of the parents/ parties at home.  If children are of school age they will usually be seen there. 

What can you do to prepare for a visit from CAFCASS?
  • Ensure that your home is clean, tidy and welcoming.Where there are very young children at issue your home needs to be child friendly with appropriate safety measures in place e.g. stair-gates, etc.If overnight contact is being sought the CAFCASS officer will want to see where the child will be sleeping.Give some thought to making the bedroom warm and cosy with appropriate bedding, toys and books for the child.
  • During the interview, remain calm, friendly, positive and polite.It is important that you remain child-focused. Explain what you would like the court to order in terms of where you want the child to live and how you want contact to be arranged.
  • Be clear, calm and concise.Make some notes in advance to remind you of the points you would like to make during your appointment.Describe to the CAFCASS officer what your family life with your child is like and what you and your child like to do together, mentioning any special routines, activities or interests you and your child share.
  • Having some photographs on display of you and your child is also very helpful.
  • Try not to exaggerate, or criticise your former partner personally.Always tell the truth and never make false allegations.
  • Don’t speak about your child as if you are his/her only parent. Remember that it is your child’s right to have an ongoing relationship with both parents and regular, meaningful contact with the non-resident parent is important unless there are serious safeguarding issues, which must be reported.
Once the court appointed CAFCASS officer has met with all parties to the proceedings (including the child, whose wishes and feelings will be considered as a paramount consideration – the older the child the more weight will be attached to his/ her wishes), a report will be prepared for the court with a recommendation as to the appropriate order to make in all the circumstances.
Whilst a report by CAFCASS is persuasive it is not binding on the court.  However, it is relatively unusual for a Judge to depart from a recommendation from CAFCASS and he/ she would be required to provide a reason for doing so. 

In the event that you are unhappy with the report recommendations you can make this known and raise this during the court proceedings. 

Should you require advise or information regarding this or any aspect of family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Family Team at GC Solicitors on 01462 483800. 

Claire Ballard
Traumatic Brain Injury from an Accident can lead to Dementia Risk
Although it is known that repeated brain injuries may result in dementia type conditions such as with Muhammad Ali, a new study from the University of Glasgow led by the ‘not-for-profit’ Mario Negri institute for Pharmological Research shows that a single head injury or traumatic brain injury can result in brain degeneration. 

The process involves the production of an abnormal version of a protein called ‘tau’.  Tau is associated with the development of dementia and slowly spreads through the brain causing memory problems.  Evidence in head injury claims will now need to consider these new findings when considering the prognosis for the injured party.

Sylvia Phillips
Whose Fault is it Anyway…?
So you and your neighbours used to get along, but no more. They accuse you of all sorts of mischief; you accuse them back and that neighbourly friendship cannot be recovered. No matter, let’s all go and have a cup of tea together. Who cares if your neighbour accused you of poisoning their prized delphiniums and you accused them of letting their dog in to poo in your garden. So that cup of tea…realistic? Not really, and nobody would expect it to be. Yet for decades separating couples in England and Wales have been faced with needing to accuse their spouse of a fault in order to obtain a divorce, unless they want to wait 2 years from the point of separation until they can start divorce proceedings (and even then if the other spouse does not agree to the divorce at that stage, they must wait until they have been separated for 5 years). With a background of either bad behaviour or adultery, these couples are expected to try to reach an agreement on finances and children.
Until the recent case of Owens v Owens [2018] UKSC 41, the practice of most family lawyers in drafting a behaviour based divorce was to cite a handful of reasonably anodyne allegations that would be considered to be enough to show the marriage had broken down but would minimise the hostility between the divorcing couple. The Owens case has led us to re-evaluate the damping down of allegations, in case the court decides there is insufficient evidence of marital breakdown. Though it is the rare case in which someone will be able to stop a divorce by defending it, Owens showed all that it is possible if a party is stubborn and unwilling to compromise.
So it was with relief that the government recently confirmed it would consult on introducing no fault divorce. This will not be the first time a government has looked at changing the law. The Family Law Act 1996 had a section that would have introduced no-fault divorce, however that part of the Act was never enacted and has now been repealed. The usual justification for failing to support such a change by “family values” politicians is that changing the basis for divorce to purely no-fault will undermine marriage. This is simply not the case. In the not too distant old days, before the massive cuts which have caused significant delays, it used to be possible to obtain a divorce in as little as 3 months (the so called “quickie divorce”). Realistically with court delays it is more like double that these days, but the point is that a fault based divorce can result in much faster divorces than a separation based divorce.
The need to blame one person for the breakdown of a marriage is unfair and often encourages people to lie. Very often the breakdown is caused by both parties whether actively or simply because they have grown apart. In the latter case, someone who wants a divorce may exaggerate or make up accusations. Particularly where there are children and an ongoing relationship is required to parent the children, this is to say the least, unhelpful. Getting rid of fault based divorce will reduce conflict and that can only be a good thing, especially when there is a need to deal with finances and/or children. 
There are very few people who would not consider marriage to be a choice in life. Politicians are doing what they can to stop forced marriages. People can run off to a registry office and get married with 28 days’ notice and having given no particular thought about whether it is the right thing to do. Why should it therefore be so much harder to exit a marriage? There are few family lawyers out there who are not keeping their fingers crossed that common sense will prevail.

Stephanie Wells