Cohabitation & Unmarried Families
In the last decade in the UK, for the first time in history the number of single women has been greater than the number of married women. While cohabiting couple families are now the fastest growing family type in the UK, with numbers more than doubling from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017. However it is also the most misunderstood area of family law.
There is no such thing as common law marriage in this country, which means that cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples.
When unmarried couples separate, significant issues can arise over the ownership of property. To resolve these, cohabiting couples have to rely on complex and arcane trust principles. To avoid this, if you are intending to live with a partner, it is a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement which sets out what will happen to your finances in the event of a relationship breakdown. It can also make clear how the property in which you live (and any other property) is owned.
Whether you wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement, or your partner has asked you to, we will advise you on the contents.
If the relationship does break down, we can help you to resolve any disputes over property ownership that may arise. If you have children, we can also advise you on any financial claims which may be brought by one parent on behalf of children for housing and maintenance.
Divorce & Finances
We have first-hand experience of the sort of emotional and financial pressures experienced when families and couples are going through a relationship breakdown. We will guide you through every aspect of the divorce process, addressing your concerns and bringing about an appropriate resolution.
From the outset you will be given clear and realistic advice regarding the financial impact of your divorce. We will explain the options available to you and advise you on likely outcomes. We will then help you to achieve a solution tailored to your own specific circumstances.
Constructive advice regarding the financial issues arising upon divorce is central to the divorce process. But we also recognise that divorce can be accompanied by stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression. In cases where there may be a mental or physical impairment, disability or other health related issues, we aim to handle matters with particular sensitivity.
Irreconcilable differences between spouces should me met by communication that is informed and well considered. We help clients maintain a civil and good working relationship with their former spouse, especially where there are children. We aim to settle clients' financial arrangements cases out of court, where we may typically expect to exercise a greater degree of control. Nevertheless there are times when litigation is necessary.
Whatever the course, we pride ourselves on our accessibility, making ourselves available to you and providing support by telephone and email whenever it is needed to help you towards the best possible outcome.
Marriage is as much about children and home. Making arrangements for your children following a breakdown of your relationship can be extremely difficult and stressful. Our aim is to provide you with sensitive, pragmatic and sensible advice, enabling you to take a constructive approach. We will always act in your best interests, and will help you find a child-focused, practical and workable solution.
Ideally you and your spouse will be able to agree arrangements between you. Where it is not possible for you to do this directly, alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, collaborative law or arbitration may assist you to do so. Where it has not been possible to reach an agreement, court proceedings may be necessary.
We advise clients on many issues affacting children upon relationship breakdown. tis includes where they spend their time, and also specific issues surrounding their care such as which school they should attend, or what medical care they should receive. These cases can be difficult, and early intervention with experienced lawyers can be crucial.
Prenups & Postnups
It was officially recorded in 2017 that while marriage was on the rise, the average length of a marriage in the UK is 11, with 43% of marriages end in divorce. A pre-nuptial agreement will make provision for that circumstance, should it arise, by setting out how your assets and liabilities will be divided.
Although not strictly binding in this jurisdiction, the use of pre-nuptial agreements has increased dramatically in recent times and can help to achieve certainty on divorce. The landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010 is a big step towards pre-nuptial agreements being decisive.
If you wish to enter into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement or your intended spouse has asked you to, we will provide you with advice in order to ensure that it is fair and that it gives you maximum certainty on divorce. It can be a difficult subject to address, but we are sympathetic to this and we will help to advise you in a sensitive way.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Although the newspapers regularly report on hard-fought divorce battles, there are a number of alternatives to the divorce process. There are many advantages to these alternatives; they avoid the stess and cost of litigation, they help you and your former spouse to communicate with one another, and significantly, they are also completely private, in contrast to court proceedings.
If you and your spuse agree to mediate, you will both meet with a specialist mediator who will help you work to settle your differences and reach an agreement on how assets should be divided, the arrangements for your children on separation, or anything else that you wish to discuss.
If you and your spouse decide to use the collaborative law process you will each appoint your own collaboratively trained lawyer and then meet to work things out face to face. This way you can discss the issues between you frankly and with the support of your own lawyers. By meeting together in this way negotiating an agreement is an open and transparent process which can progress at a pace that suits you.
If you decide to arbitrate in order to reach an agreement you and your spouse would each have lawyers, but you then select an independent arbitrator to resolve your dispute. The arbitrator's decision is then binding.
We will discuss all of the options available to you, so that you can make an informed decision.