Family Law

GC Solicitors has a dedicated team of Family Solicitors who specialise in all areas of Family Law.
We understand that often where there is a family issue or dispute, it can be a very stressful time for the individuals and children concerned. We take the time to listen to you and give you our tailored advice in a clear and prompt manner at an affordable rate. Our team will explain your options in plain English without legal jargon.
We offer specialist advice on:
  • Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution
  • Judicial Separation and Nullity
  • Finances
  • Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial agreements
  • Co-habitation agreements and Separation Agreements
  • Domestic violence – Non Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders
  • Children – residence/contact
  • Prohibited Steps Orders
  • Specific Issue Orders



Divorce/Civil Partnership Dissolution

Those in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership have the same rights as those who are in a marriage. To dissolve a same sex or opposite-sex marriage or civil partnership you need to have been married or in a civil partnership for at least one year and the marriage must have broken down irretrievably. This is proven by:
  • Desertion by the other party for at least 2 years
  • Behaviour of the other party so that the person applying cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her
  • Separation for 2 years (as long as the other party agrees)
  • Separation for 5 years
In cases of marriage only, adultery by the other party is also available as a petition fact. This all looks set to change later this year with the fault based facts being removed so that breakdown will be proven by separation only.
We are able to advise you in dealing with dissolution/divorce ensuring that you understand all aspects of the situation. The dissolution/divorce allows the Court to make an order regarding the finances of the relationship.

Unmarried couples/Co-habitation

No matter how long you have lived together, there is no legal concept of common law marriage in England and Wales. Your status is classed as unmarried and as such the finances of a relationship break-up are dealt with very differently.
However, if the relationship breaks down, it may still be possible to make a claim about the following:
  • Child support
  • Remaining in the property until your children have grown up
  • The property if it is in joint names (i.e. for it to be sold and the proceeds shared)
  • The property in limited circumstances if it is in the other person’s sole name
  • For a lump sum to purchase property for a child of the relationship (generally when the child is grown up the property must be sold and the money paid back).


Judicial Separation

You can apply for Judicial Separation using the same facts as available for divorce. You do not need to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
There are various reasons that you may consider applying for judicial separation such as:
  • If you have religious reasons meaning divorce is not appropriate
  • You have been married under a year
  • You want time and space to work out if you want to end the marriage
There are financial orders available upon judicial separation, which we can advise you on.
We can help you decide whether this would be suitable in your circumstances and provide advice and assistance in submitting the petition.
 

Nullity

Annulment is a way of ending a marriage (though relatively rare) but unlike divorce, you can apply for the marriage to be annulled at any time after the wedding. When applying for an annulment you would have to show that the marriage was either not valid in the first place or that it is defective. This may be difficult as you may need to obtain evidence from other professionals or third parties. Our experienced solicitors can advise you as to the merits of your case and provide you with our honest and tailored advice throughout. We can also assist you in gathering the appropriate evidence to support your case.
 

Written Agreements regulating finances on break up of a relationship

When you decide to move in with a partner it is often not at the forefront of either party’s mind to think about what may happen if the relationship were to break down.
We can assist you in drafting pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements which set out how your finances should be dealt with if the relationship ends. If you have already married, we can advise on and draft a post-nuptial agreement. If you have already separated or are thinking about it, we can draft a separation agreement. Whether such agreements are appropriate and enforceable can be complicated and it is important to consider the issues thoroughly.
 

Matrimonial finances

Where possible it is often much easier and more cost effective to try to agree finances rather than go through a fully contested court case. An agreement can be set out in a consent order. Our experienced solicitors can assist you in making the necessary referral to mediation and thereafter using the agreement reached in mediation to draft a consent order to minimise the legal fees incurred by both parties. Once the consent order is approved this then becomes a legally binding document and neither party can make a claim against the other in the future except in extremely limited cases, such as where there has been fraud or significant non-disclosure during negotiations. We are mindful of the stress and upset that is often caused by divorce and financial cases and we are keen to help you reach a fair settlement quickly and in a cost effective manner.
If an agreement cannot be reached, we can help you put your best case to court.

 

Domestic violence

People are often mistaken in assuming that ‘domestic violence’ is always physical. Domestic violence can take place in the form of verbal, emotional, psychological, financial and physical abuse. Domestic violence is NOT acceptable and our compassionate solicitors can help you obtain immediate protection from your abuser.
We advise and assist you in applying to the Family Court for:
  • Non Molestation Order
This is an Order which prevents someone from using or threatening violence towards you, sending you any threatening or abusive communications and coming near your home or place of work. It is criminal offence to ignore or breach a Non Molestation Order.
  • Occupation Order
These Orders regulate who can live in the family home and they can also restrict who can enter the surrounding area of your property.
  • Transfer of Tenancy
This is an application to transfer the joint council housing tenancy into your sole name and ensuring your abuser no longer has a right to reside in the property with you.
In cases of emergency, we can assist you in making the application to the court on an urgent basis usually within the next few days of you instructing us. It may be appropriate to do this without informing the other party of your application until the Order has been made and is served on them. Our solicitors are confident advocates who can represent you in Court which may be more cost effective than instructing a Barrister.

 

Children – Residence/Contact

If you are being denied contact with your child/ren you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. However, in every case the parties have to show that they have attempted to attend mediation to try and reach an agreement unless they are exempt, for example if they have been a victim of domestic violence.
A Child Arrangements Order can be made confirming with whom the child/ren shall live with in the event of a dispute between parents. The Court will always consider whether such an Order would be in the best interests of the child/ren
If you already have a Child Arrangements Order in place but your ex-partner is not complying with the Order there are steps that can be taken to enforce an Order or vary an existing Order.
 

Prohibited Steps Order/Specific Issue Order

These Orders prohibit a parent from taking a particular action or require certain actions.
We can assist you in making an urgent application for a Prohibited Steps Order for example, if the other party has removed your child/ren from your care without your consent or has threatened to do so.
An application can be made for a Specific Issue Order where you require the Court to make a decision with regard to matters connected to exercising your parental responsibility for example relating to your child’s name, education, medical treatment, taking your child/ren to live abroad.
The Court will always have regard to the child/ren(s) welfare and any decision made must be in the best interest of the child. We can assist you in preparing your case and represent you in Court.