10 FAQ Family Law

07 June 2024
  1. How do I file for divorce, and what’s the process involved?
    In the UK, you can file for divorce by submitting a divorce petition to the court. The process from beginning to completion involves several stages, including filing the petition, reaching agreements on financial matters and childcare (if applicable), and obtaining a conditional order followed by a final order to finalize the divorce.
  2. How long does a divorce take?
    The amount of time a divorce will take depends is unique to each divorce. The legal divorce itself, without including any financial or child arrangements, may take a minimum of 6.5 months. For divorces involving financial or child arrangements may take longer. This will depend on multiple factors including negotiations, court process times and each party’s responses.
  3. What are my rights regarding child custody and visitation?
    In the UK, the welfare of the child is paramount. Courts encourage shared parenting where possible, considering factors such as the child’s wishes, their emotional and educational needs, and each parent’s ability to meet those needs. The terminology used is “child arrangements orders” which determine with whom the child lives, spends time, and how they communicate with each parent.
  4. How is child support calculated, and what factors are considered?
    Child maintenance in the UK can be arranged through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) or by a private agreement. The CMS calculates payments based on the paying parent’s income, number of children, and how much time the children spend with them. Additional factors like special expenses and other children living with the receiving parent may also be considered.
  5. Can I modify an existing child custody or support arrangement?
    Yes, existing child arrangements orders can be modified if there’s a significant change in circumstances, such as relocation, changes in the child’s needs, or changes in the parent’s ability to care for the child. It’s advisable to attempt negotiation or mediation first, but if an agreement cannot be reached, the court can intervene.
  6. What are the grounds for legal separation, and how does it differ from divorce?
    In the UK, legal separation isn’t a formal process like divorce. Couples can separate informally or enter into a separation agreement if they wish.
  7. How are assets and debts divided during divorce proceedings?
    In divorce proceedings, where the parties do not agree between themselves how to split assets, the assets and debts are aimed to be divided fairly, which does not necessarily mean equally. The court considers various factors such as the needs of each spouse and any children, the length of the marriage, their contributions (financial and non-financial), and future earning capacity.
  8. Do I need a prenuptial agreement, and how can it protect my assets?
    Prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK but are increasingly considered by the courts if properly drafted, particularly where both parties entered into it freely with full understanding of its implications. They can protect assets owned before marriage or inherited during marriage, and can outline how assets are divided in case of divorce.
  9. What are my rights in cases of domestic violence or abuse?
    Victims of domestic violence or abuse in the UK have legal protections, including the ability to obtain protective injunctions such as non-molestation orders or occupation orders to prevent the abuser from contacting or living with them. Legal aid may be available for victims seeking protection through the courts.
  10. What are the legal implications of cohabitation or common-law marriage in my jurisdiction?

Cohabiting couples in the UK do not have the same legal rights as married couples or those in civil partnerships. There’s no such thing as common-law marriage. Cohabiting couples should consider cohabitation agreements to outline financial arrangements, property ownership, and responsibilities in case the relationship ends.

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