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FAQS

Divorce

 

Can we both file for divorce?

Only one spouse can petition for divorce. They are known as the Petitioner and the other spouse is the Respondent.

Can I cite irreconcilable differences?

There is no such thing. The ground for divorce is ‘Irretrievable breakdown’.

How do I prove irretrievable breakdown?

By proving one of five facts – adultery, behaviour, 2 years separation with the Respondent’s consent, 5 years separation, or desertion for 2 years.

Can I get a quickie divorce?

There is no such thing. Divorces take about 3-4 months. It can take longer if financial issues hold up the final divorce.

Do I have to resolve a financial settlement before applying for my final divorce?

No but it is advisable to do so. Each case is different. Contact us if you are worried about it.

How long does it take?

If the divorce is not contested it can take around 3-4 months.

How much will it cost?

Court fees are £550. Solicitors’ fees are extra. We charge a fixed fee. Please contact us for more information.

Do I have to go to court?

If the divorce is not contested, it is a paper exercise and no attendance at court is required.n.

Do I have to consult a lawyer?

No, it is possible to petition for divorce without legal representation. We can help you as much or as little as you like.

Where do I get the forms?

These can be obtained online from the court service website or in person by attending at your local family court. Or we can help you with it all.

What if my spouse will not cooperate?

All steps should be taken to ensure that the divorce is as amicable as possible. It is possible however to progress a divorce even if the other spouse will not cooperate.

Do I need to get in touch with FM Family Law?

We are happy to help so please call us for more advice.

Children

 

What is parental responsibility and who has it for my child?

Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined in the Children Act 1989 as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”

If you have PR for a child, this means that you have a right to be involved in making important decisions about that child, for example, where they go to school, what religion they are brought up in and whether they have certain medical treatment. People with PR are not expected to consult each other about day to day care arrangements for a child in their care, for example, what they eat for breakfast or what they wear.

The following people can have PR of a child.

A birth mother will always have PR for her child unless it is brought to an end, for example by adoption

Fathers can have PR in the following situations:

  • Being married to the child’s mother at the time the child was born or marrying the child’s mother after they are born
  • Being named on the child’s birth certificate if the child was born after 1.12.2003
  • By entering into a PR agreement with everyone else who has PR
  • By obtaining a court order confirming the child lives with you, or a court order granting PR

A step-parent by entering into a formal agreement with everyone else who has PR

A Local Authority if a child is in care

Someone with the benefit of a Special Guardianship Order

 

Do we need to have a court order about child care arrangements if we are separated?

In short, no. The courts in England and Wales recognise that a child’s parents are often the best people to agree to the arrangements for the care of a child and do not see the need for this to be formalised in any form of written agreement.

You may choose to agree with the other parent to enter into a parenting plan to reflect what you have agreed. Cafcass (the children and family court advisory and support service) have a helpful plan which parents can use.

If you can’t reach an agreement with the other parent about your child’s care arrangements, it is possible to make an application to the court to ask the court to make an order setting out the time a child will spend with each of its parents. Before making an application to the court, you need to consider whether you and your ex-partner could reach an agreement in mediation.

Can I change my child’s surname?

If you want to change your child’s surname and they are under the age of 16, you will need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for your child. (see what is parental responsibility and who has it for more details about this)

If not everyone with parental responsibility agrees to your child’s name being changed, you can ask the court to decide whether your child’s name should be changed or not. Courts will not usually agree to a change in a child’s surname unless there is a good reason for doing this or unless it is something the child wants and they are at an age whether their views would be considered decisive. Children aged 16 or over can change their surname if they want to.

Do mothers always end up having primary care of a child?

No. If you and your ex-partner can’t agree about your child’s care arrangements and the court becomes involved, the court will make a decision based on what they feel is in the child’s best interests. This could mean any one of a number of outcomes, including the child spending more of the time with their mother, more time with their father or roughly equal amounts of time with each of their parents.
Some fathers do feel that they are at a disadvantage against a mother but this should not be the case. If a child is very young, there may still be a tendency for courts to take a view that the child should spend more of their time in their mother’s care.

Can I take my child on holiday aboard?

When both parents have ‘parental responsibility’, neither parent can take a child out of England, Wales or Scotland without the permission of the other parent or leave of the court. Without permission, there is a risk you are committing child abduction.

The other parent should not unreasonably withhold their consent to you travelling abroad. So, if you want to take your children away for a week to Spain in the school summer holidays, this would seem to be a positive experience for your child and not one, in normal circumstances, that it would be reasonable for the other parent to disagree with.

I am travelling abroad with my child and they have a different surname. Is this a problem?

In the last few years, border control in different countries has tightened up security and many parents find themselves stopped and asked to explain why the child they are travelling with has a different surname to them. It may be helpful to carry with your child’s passport a signed letter from the other parent confirming they consent to you travelling with your child. Having a photocopy of your child’s birth certificate in their passport can also be helpful if it shows a connection between you name and your child’s.

Finances

 

Do I have to obtain a financial settlement when I get divorced?

No, but in every case, this is usually advisable so as to end legal claims between spouses that continue even after a divorce.

What if we don’t have any assets?

It is usually advisable in every case even if there are no assets.

How will I know what I am likely to get in my financial settlement?

Every case is different and will have a different outcome. No one case is the same. Advice should be taken so that you understand your rights and entitlements.

Do I have to go to court?

If a financial settlement is agreed, there is no need to go to court. It is a paper exercise and no attendance at court is required

Do I have to resolve a financial settlement before applying for my final divorce?

No, but it is advisable to do so. Each case is different. Contact us if you are worried about it.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an excellent way of coming to an agreement about the financial outcome. FM Family Law solicitors are also mediators and can either mediate or advise you.

Do I have to go to Mediation?

Mediation is not mandatory however if the courts are to be involved the applicant has to attend a meeting about mediation.

Can we both apply to the court for a financial outcome?

Only one spouse can apply and they are known as the Applicant and the other spouse is the Respondent.

Can I get a quick decision from the Court?

No. A decision will be made at a final hearing which can take place months after the court is first involved.

How long does it take?

If the finances are contested it can take around 6-12 months, possibly shorter and possibly longer.

How much will it cost?

Court fees are £255. Solicitors’ fees are extra. Every case is different. Please contact us for more information.

Do I have to consult a lawyer?

No, it is possible to come to an agreement with your spouse without legal representation. We can help you as much or as little as you like.

Where do I get the forms?

These can be obtained online from the court service website or in person by attending at your local family court. Or we can help you with it all.

What if my spouse will not cooperate?

All steps should be taken to ensure that the process is as amicable as possible. It is possible however to progress a financial outcome even if the other spouse will not cooperate.

Do I need to get in touch with FM Family Law?

We are happy to help. Do please call us for more advice.