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Family law solicitor, London area(5 Posts)
Any recommendations? Needs to cover both financial and children issues, preferably not too expensive.
I'm sure someone will be along with a recommendation soon - in the meantime, you might find some of this useful background reading:
Relationship Breakdown and Divorce Advice and Links
It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.
The welfare, needs and interests of children are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be fairly divided between separating parents.
A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (Statement of Arrangements for Children). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - Residence and Contact regarding children, Financial Order or Ancillary Relief in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.
Always see a specialist family lawyer!
Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who dont know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation theres a lot of knowledge and support out there!
Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Dont just stick with the first lawyer you find shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor youre happy with.
If you cant find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
Here is the Gov.uk guide to divorce which includes a link to CAB advice at the foot of the first page:
Rights of Women have a helpline on 020 7251 6577 and helpful advice on their website.
Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.
You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.
If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so its important to have that first.
You can find a Mediator here:
Married or Living Together?
This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.
Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
Gov.uk advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
Issues around contact are further explored here:
I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read there are others of course:
Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?
There is a useful divorce and separation calculator here:
If you cannot access financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. Again you will be encouraged to go to mediation (link as above).
If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway.
If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order.
During this process, parties have to declare financial information going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.
If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):
1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.
CSA maintenance calculator:
Handy tax credits calculator:
Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
CAB Benefits Check:
Other Support Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
(Note that on many advice websites there is usually an appropriate link for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ).
Sometimes links change or break if there is a problem or any of the above needs updating, please let me know.
It's actually on behalf of someone else, but I'll pass on olgaga's very helpful advice. She's in the Kingston area, and she doesn't qualify for legal aid.
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