I need a family solicitor, but I’m not 100% sure what for – find out how a family solicitor can help
Andrea and Charles moved in together in 2009 and got married in 2011. They have 2 children, Megan (age 9) and Louis (age 5). They live in a house which Charles purchased prior to the relationship and have a dog named Cleo. Andrea’s mother sadly passed away last year, and this led to a decline in her mental health. Subsequently, she and Charles decided to separate. They are now looking at getting divorced and dividing their finances.
The above scenario is sadly, not one that is uncommon for those in the legal profession to see. At the beginning of a separation, it can be hard for the couple to separate out which parts they want to figure out for themselves and which bits they need additional help with.
There are several issues about which Andrea and Charles may need to take legal advice. Sometimes, when clients come to us for advice, they are not necessarily aware of the different legal issues which can arise from a separation. It’s not just the formal ending of the marriage which needs to be considered, there are a wide range of issues that can flow from a couple’s decision to separate. We have set out a few examples below:
- How will they get divorced? – The first thing that may spring to mind is the fact that Andrea and Charles want to get divorced. Although either of them could just start the petition online, an early discussion with a solicitor might help to make this part of the process as straight forward as possible. There may need to be some discussion about who is the petitioner (i.e. who starts the divorce process off) and who is the respondent. Equally, the petitioner will need to take advice on the grounds for divorce and determine which facts they will rely on to prove to the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
- Who will live where? – In the short term, Andrea and Charles will need to decide whether they are going to remain living in the same house pending resolution of their financial matters. If one decides to move out, then they will need to consider whether that is affordable based on their own income or whether they require financial assistance from their (former) partner. This is something that solicitors can advise on and, in the event of a disagreement, it is even more important to seek advice at those early stages.
- What will happen to Megan and Louis? – Andrea and Charles will need to give some serious consideration to the arrangements for Megan and Louis. If they are staying in the same property, then they will want to try and ensure that the children don’t overhear arguments or become ‘stuck in the middle’. Equally, if one parent is going to move out, they will need to decide what time the children spend with each of them. If they disagree, there are several ways of working towards resolving that disagreement including solicitors’ correspondence, mediation, arbitration, a court application etc. These are all things that we can advise on.
- How will they divide the finances? – When considering division of matrimonial finances, every case is very different. Solicitors will often advise their clients to engage in full financial disclosure with the other person so that they can make a fully informed decision, based on knowing what assets there are and what they are worth. In this example, there are also other considerations including Andrea’s mental health and that could potentially lead to arguments about earning capacity and mortgage capacity. There are also arguments about pre-martial assets and also potential arguments about inheritance and ring-fencing. These are all issues which solicitors can consider carefully and advise on. Family Law solicitors can also play a vital role in ensuring that any agreement Andrea and Charles reach about their finances becomes legally binding and gives them both certainty for the future.
- But what about Cleo?! – We can’t forget Cleo, our fictional chocolate Labrador. It may be that Andrea and Charles sought legal advice prior to purchasing Cleo (or even afterwards) and as such, they may have had a ‘pet-nup’ drawn up to determine the arrangements for Cleo should they separate. For more information on pet nups, check out our blog here. If they didn’t get a pet nup, unfortunately under the archaic laws of property, Cleo would be treated as a chattel (or item) and therefore, this wouldn’t be something that the family court would become involved in. That said, solicitors can exchange correspondence to discuss the arrangements for Cleo and that is not to say that those arrangements couldn’t be recorded as part of an overall financial agreement.
If you are concerned about any of the issues raised above or anything else regarding divorce, financial matters or issues regarding child arrangements, you can contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp to 07725 115219. Alternatively, if you are able to call us then we would be more than happy to discuss matters with you over the telephone on 01625 544650.