Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Divorce Process?
The Divorce process is the legal process of ending a marriage. The petitioner will need to prove that the respondent has carried out one or more of five facts that has led to the breakdown of a marriage. This includes adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for two years, the couple have separated and have lived apart for two years and the other spouse has given consent or the petitioner has lived apart from the respondent for five years or more. This will not require a response from the respondent.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is different from mediation such as marriage counselling as this is undertaken once the decision to seperate and start the divorce process has taken place. Divorce mediation is designed to reach agreements about finances, property disputes and decisions regarding the children. Once decisions are made and agreed by both parties – these can be drawn up by a solicitor and made legally binding.
Can Mediation Be Used for Everyone?
Although mediation can be a highly effective form of reaching amicable decisions however this may not be suitable for everyone. If you are having extensive disputes for example or are finding it very hard to communicate or reach any meaningful decisions then mediation may not be the appropriate course to take. If the divorce involves sensitive issues such as adultery or it would be unsafe for one of the couple to see the other then mediation will not be appropriate.
Does Divorce Mediation Reduce the Cost of a Divorce?
If you are able to reach decisions on finances or distribution of assets as well as arrangements for children without having to go to court then this will reduce the cost of the divorce process. However, in some cases decisions will not be able to be made easily so attending court will be inevitable. If meaningful decisions are made regarding finances, assets and arrangements for the children during mediation then this is a much more cost effective way to approach the divorce process.
Does the Divorce Process Mean You Have to Attend Court?
Not all divorce cases will require the separating couple to go to court and other methods are often used to try and avoid having to take disputes to court. This is because extended court battles can heighten tensions between parties and incur expensive court costs. If however, you cannot reach meaningful agreements on arrangements involving finances or decisions on children then court may be inevitable. It’s highly recommended to seek the advice and representation of a family law solicitor if you have to attend court.
What is a Financial Settlement?
A financial settlement consists of finding the best way for both parties to manage financially. This is often one of the most critical issues to resolve during a divorce so it’s highly recommended to take legal advice when reaching financial settlements. There are also agreements such as Pre-Nuptial Agreements that make arrangements for finances clear should a divorce occur.
What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
An agreement that is becoming more and more popular, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement draws up an agreement that protects your assets and position in the event of a future relationship breakdown. The formal, written agreement explains how assets, money and property will be divided if a relationship was to break down. There are special situations in which a court may waive a Pre-Nuptial Agreement – such as if the agreement is unfair for example.
Do I Need Legal Advice When Facing a Divorce?
Although legal advice is not strictly required when facing a divorce, it’s highly recommended to seek the advice of a specialised family law solicitor. This is because you may have to reach difficult decisions regarding arrangements for finances and arrangements for the children. As emotions are likely running high, this can make reaching decisions even more difficult and a family law solicitor can give you legal and emotional support.
How are Arrangements Reached For Children?
If an amicable decision can be reached for arrangements for children such as visitation, where a child or children live and contact arrangements then this can be agreed outside of court (to be presented and made legally binding by court once agreed.) If decisions cannot be made then both parties may have to attend court to reach a legally binding decision. It’s highly recommended to arrange for legal advice should you have to attend court to reach agreements regarding your children.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility is the legal term which dictates who has the right to make decisions about children. Step-parents or unmarried fathers often do not have parental responsibility and therefore will need to seek advice on how to get it. Decisions such as leaving the country with children will require the permission of any other adult that has parental responsibility.
What are Grandparents Rights?
Grandparents are often very close to their grandchildren and they can act as a mediator and provide stability for children during a divorce. We can offer you advice about your legal position as grandparents and discuss any concerns that you may have.
What is Legal Aid?
Legal aid is available for certain cases and if you are granted legal aid then the Legal Aid Agency pays our fees for representing you during your case. You can quality fully without a contribution or you may have to pay an amount each month that goes towards the legal aid that is provided. We can advise you regarding your eligibility and you will always have the choice whether to accept the conditions of legal aid or not.
Why is Social Services Getting Involved With My Family?
Social services are obliged to safeguard vulnerable children and adults and may become involved with your family for a number of reasons. Family members, teachers and GPs may raise concerns to social services who may then become involved or social services may have their own personal concerns about the welfare of children in a home. We can advise you and deal with social services on your behalf.
What Should I Do If I Receive a Letter From Social Services?
You may receive a letter from social services which invites you to a meeting. It’s highly recommended to attend this meeting with a solicitor and you may also qualify for legal aid to cover this. This is to ensure that you are represented fairly and understand fully the legal processes of social services involvement.
How Can I Contact a Child in Care?
Every local authority has a duty to arrange contact to a child in care. This is provided if it is in the child’s best interests. Our team of expert family law solicitors can advise you on how to apply to contact a child in care.
Can a Child be Represented by a Solicitor?
If a child is considered to have sufficient maturity then they are able to arrange to have their own solicitor to represent them legally. We have experienced specialist solicitors who are members of the Law Society Children Panel. This allows our solicitors to advise you during your case and we are also able to represent children through their Guardians should this be required.
Hurlows Family Law Practice is a valued and respected Firm of Solicitors which has been serving the Cardiff and South Wales area since 2001.