Our Guides & FAQs

Our guides and FAQs cut through the jargon and provide simple answers to complex legal questions. If you need to talk to someone, our team are always on hand to offer advice and support.

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Helpful Family Guides

Family, Finances

Freezing Orders

Freezing orders are designed to prevent a person from dissipating or disposing of assets during the process of a separation or divorce, until the conclusion of any financial dispute. .

Children, Family

The Family Court and considerations regarding ‘parental alienation’

Parental alienation is not concretely defined, however it is accepted to be a process of manipulation of children perpetrated by one parent against the other through ‘alienating behaviours’. .

Divorce, Family, Finances

Spousal Maintenance | Family Law

Are you worried about your finances following divorce and how you are going to pay to look after yourself and the children? .

Children, Family

Special Guardianship Orders | Family Law

A Special Guardianship Order, or an SGO, is an order made under the Children’s Act 1989 which gives a successful applicant parental responsibility for the child in question, which can be used to the exclusion of any other person, even if they also have parental responsibility. .

Divorce, Family, Finances

Short Marriages: A  Guide To The Court’s Approach

When going through a divorce, you may have questions about how the court will decide how to divide your assets. .

Divorce, Family, Finances

Pets And Divorce

In 2018, according to PetPlan, it was estimated that there were around 51 million pets in households across the UK. .

Frequently Asked Questions

A Conditional Order was previously referred to as a Decree Nisi. A Conditional Order provides confirmation from the Court there is no reason why you cannot end your marriage

A Final Order was previously referred to as a Decree Absolute. Once you have received a Final Order, your marriage with your spouse will have been formally dissolved and you are therefore divorced.

You can choose to either issue your application via the HMCTS Online Portal or through the post. Your application will be dealt with quicker if lodged via the online portal.

Yes, you and your spouse can now issue an application for divorce jointly with the Court due to the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

Yes, you can start divorce proceedings if your marriage is legally recognised and you have been married to your spouse for a period in excess of 12 months.

We would suggest that you do to ensure that in the event that you wish to formalise any financial settlement you have reached with your spouse, either during proceedings or at a later date, or you are yet to see.

Yes, you can as long as the marriage was not a religious marriage and has been legally registered within the jurisdiction in which the marriage has taken place.

Yes, you can as long as you currently reside in England and Wales and you have intended to remain living in England and Wales as your primary residence.

Your spouse can no longer contest the ground for divorce anymore due to the introduction of the “No Fault” legislation, however your spouse can contest whether the Court has legal jurisdiction when dealing with the divorce and/or whether other Court cases could affect the jurisdiction of the Family Court from dealing with the divorce.

The Court have stated that a divorce can be concluded within a minimum period of 26 weeks from the date of the Application for Divorce being issued by the Court. However this time frame is likely to be extended if you need to resolve matrimonial finances with your spouse.

There is a Court fee of £593 when lodging the draft Application for Divorce with the Family Court.

Due to the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 you only now have to state on the application that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. You are not required to state any further reasons for the breakdown of your marriage.

The Court will send the issued Application for Divorce via email and then followed by First-Class post. The Court will require a personal email address and up to date postal address. The Court can accept a work email address, but would prefer not to.

There is a period of 20 weeks (known as the cooling-off period) from the date of the issued application until you can apply for a Conditional Order.

You will have to wait approximately 6 weeks from the date shown on the Conditional Order before you can apply for a Final Oder. You may wish to delay in applying for a Final Order on the basis that a financial agreement has not been agreed and/or approved by the Court. If you apply for a Final Order after a period of 12 months from the date of the Conditional Order, you will need to lodge with the Court a Statement outlining the reason for the delay.

A Financial Order is a Court Order that legally binds any financial settlement you have reached with your spouse prior to applying for a Final Order. A Financial Order can also be provided at the conclusion of contested financial proceedings. A Financial Order will typically detail what is to occur to the family home, pensions, child and spousal maintenance etc.

We would suggest that you do apply for a Financial Order to ensure that any future financial claims over assets and income are dismissed. Please note that a Financial Order can be obtained after the pronouncement of a Final Order if you and your spouse wish to settle financial matters later on.

If your spouse does not agree to settling your finances then you can lodge with the Court a formal application to commence financial proceedings. The Court will list hearings for both parties to attend and  will decide what is a fair and reasonable financial division of assets, liabilities and income.

A Clean Break means that parties within divorce proceedings will have no financial ties to the other once the proposed Court Order is made and implemented by the Family Court. It enables both parties to move forward with their respective lives and be financially independent of one another.

Yes, you can, although it is likely you will need to attend mediation or instruct Solicitors to assist the parties to achieve a settlement. We suggest that you obtain independent legal advice to assess your position.

Mediation is a way of dealing with any difference between you and your spouse, with the assistance of a third person who is impartial. The third person, known as a Mediator, can help you reach an agreement about issues with money, property, and money.

Due to the procedural changes in Family Law, you are required to first attempt Mediation before lodging with the Court formal proceedings for financial matters, unless your matter is exempt. We suggest you seek legal advice to ascertain whether your matter would be exempt.

Your spouse is not required to instruct a solicitor when dealing with financial matters if they do not wish to do so, however we would suggest that you do.

If you and your spouse agree financial matters and wish for a Consent Order to be lodged with the Court for their approval, the Court fee will be £53. If you or your spouse wish to commence with formal Court proceedings then the Court fee will be £275.

Whilst any agreement reached through Mediation is not legally binding, you will need to speak to a Solicitor to draft the agreement into a Court Order to then be lodged with the Court to be made legally binding.

A Child Arrangements Order is the mechanism that ensures that any arrangements between yourself and your ex-partner in respect of your child(ren) are formalised. A Child Arrangements Order is a legally binding document that is approved by the Family Court. Whilst it is not a requirement to have in place, it limits the scope of disputes regarding contact, travel arrangements etc.

A Live with Order (previously referred to as a Custody Order) is a term used to describe where the child(ren) will live with for the majority of their time. When a relationship breaks down and the parents do not live together, the child will usually live with either the mother of the father.

A Spend Time with Order is a term to describe that the non-resident parenting (the one where the child(ren) do not live with) spend time with the children on specific days. This was previously referred to as a Contact Order. A Spend Time with Order typically details the time in which the said parent is to spend time with the child(ren)

CAFCASS are defined as The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service and their role is to represent children in Family Court Proceedings. CAFCASS independently advise the Court about what is safe for the children and what is in their best interests CAFCASS put the needs, wishes and feelings first, ensuring that children’s voices are heard during the Court proceedings.

A Section 7 Report is ordered by the Court to provide information on a Child’s welfare and to consider the risks or concerns raised about the child, a parent or other relatives. The report will assist the Court in considering a family dispute between parents and determine an outcome that is in the best interests of the child.

A CAFCASS safeguarding letter is a short report setting out the safeguarding enquires made by CAFCASS prior to the first Court hearing. These enquires are typically made with Police, Social Services and CAFCASS’ own records. CAFCASS will also speak to each party regarding their views and concerns. Such letter is typically provided three days before the first Court Hearing date.

There is a Court fee of £232 when lodging the Application for a Child Arrangements Order with the Court.

While you are not obliged to formalise any agreement, you have reached with your ex-partner within a Court Order, you may wish to do so to further reduce any issues you may have with your ex-partner should your relationship deteriorate.

A Fact-Finding Hearing is a separate hearing within Children Proceedings and deals situations where there is a dispute of facts regarding an incident(s) or if one party makes allegations that are denied by the other party and often where cross allegations are then made between the parties. The Court convenes a hearing and makes a determination on the issue(s) and which is thereafter likely to have a bearing on how the proceedings move forward.

Due to the procedural changes in Family Law, you are required to first attempt Mediation before lodging with the Court formal proceedings for children matters, unless you matter is exempt. We suggest you seek legal advice to ascertain whether your matter would be exempt.

Court proceedings typically take place to the Court closest to where the child(ren) are currently residing. In Essex, the Family Court at Chelmsford is the centralised Court when dealing with Children Matters, however you may find any subsequent hearings may take place anywhere in Essex or Suffolk, dependent on the location of the child(ren).

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