Dealing with the breakdown of a relationship is never easy, but with the right legal advice and guidance even the most challenging issues can be resolved.
Our London family lawyers understand that this is likely to be a difficult time for you and that you will naturally have concerns about matters such as finances, property and your children. We are experienced across the full range of divorce and separation matters and we can provide the advice and representation you need.
We also deal with non-contentious areas of family law, including prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and adoption to help you get your family established on a strong legal footing.
Why choose Huggins Lewis Foskett for your family legal advice?
Our family solicitors in London will help you to identify the outcome you want and work to achieve this on your behalf. Wherever possible, we resolve matters by agreement and negotiation, avoiding the need for court proceedings. This is usually a much quicker process and also more cost-effective than litigation.
We will provide you with the right level of expertise for your case and ensure that you have the support you need throughout. We are easily contactable and will keep you updated in respect of progress, speaking to you as necessary to answer your questions.
Our team includes members of Resolution, the group of family lawyers dedicated to dealing with issues with a minimum of conflict. Where matters cannot be resolved by negotiation, we can support you through mediation. This is a type of alternative dispute resolution, where a trained mediator will work with you both to see if an amicable agreement can be reached.
We offer many of our family law services on a fixed fee basis, meaning you will know from the start what the cost will be.
Our family law services
We offer a full range of family law services, including the following:
- Divorce, separation and civil partnership dissolution
- Child law and arrangements for children
- Divorce financial settlements
- Prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and trust deeds
- Cohabitation agreements
- Cohabitation dispute resolution
- Parental responsibility
- Domestic violence and emotional abuse
Divorce, separation and civil partnership dissolution
If you are going through the breakdown of a relationship, there are a number of legal matters that generally need to be dealt with, such as issues relating to children, property and finances. We can explain the whole process to you and guide you through each stage so that you have the right arrangements in place for the future.
It is usually best to agree matters before your divorce itself is finalised and we will ensure that everything is dealt with in the right order. If you wish to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, we can apply to the court for this on your behalf.
If you will be separating from your partner, whether or not you are married or in a civil partnership, we can draft a separation agreement setting out how issues will be dealt with between you. This can be a long-term arrangement or it can simply deal with the period up until you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership.
Child law and arrangements for children
If you have children, then your main concern is likely to be ensuring that the right arrangements are put in place for their wellbeing. Our team have extensive experience in negotiating arrangements for children and we can go through your options with you.
A child arrangements agreement will generally include matters such as:
- Who a child will live with and where they will live
- How much time they will spend with the other parent
- How the child will keep in touch with each parent when they are not together
- Who else will be in the child’s life, such as grandparents and new partners
- Other issues such as education, names, religion and medical treatment
The courts prefer that children have a meaningful relationship with both parents and that arrangements are agreed between the parents wherever possible. If we cannot reach agreement with your child’s other parent, the next step is usually to consider mediation. We can guide you through this process, ensuring that you have the support you need.
Once an agreement has been reached, we will ask the court to seal this into a legally binding order. If agreement cannot be reached, we will prepare a robust case for court and provide you with expert representation.
Divorce financial settlements
It is vital to make legally binding financial arrangements when you divorce or dissolve a civil partnership. Without this, it would be open to your spouse or civil partner to make a financial claim against you in the future, long after your divorce or partnership dissolution.
It is usually recommended that a financial settlement is reached before your divorce or dissolution is finalised. Before negotiations commence, both you and your spouse or partner will need to make full disclosure of your financial situation, to include all of your assets, liabilities and income. We can go through this with you and work to find an acceptable solution that gives you the financial security for the future that you need.
We will take the time to understand what is important to you and what outcome you want. For example, if you wish to keep your shared home, we will look at the possible ways in which this could be accomplished. Again, we always try to resolve matters by negotiation wherever possible, or where this is not possible by using mediation.
If your case does go to court, we will ensure that you are thoroughly prepared and that you have our guidance and advice throughout.
Prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and trust deeds
A prenuptial agreement can be made by a couple before they marry, setting out the responsibilities of each party and how their assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.
It helps a couple enter into the next phase of their lives on an open and honest footing and can prevent misunderstandings and disagreements from arising later on. It also gives both parties a level of certainty for the future, whatever happens.
It is particularly useful where one party owns more property than the other, where someone has children from a previous relationship or where one party may inherit money.
Although a prenuptial agreement is not legally binding, if it has been drawn up by a solicitor, both parties have made a full financial disclosure and have also received independent legal advice before the signing it, the courts will generally follow its terms.
For those who are already married but who would like a similar arrangement to be made, a postnuptial agreement can be put in place.
We can also create trusts to hold property and assets so that it is protected, to be used in the way that you want for you and your children.
If you will be living with someone without marrying or entering into a civil partnership, you can put a cohabitation agreement in place. This will set out how a range of matters will be dealt with between you, both during the time you live together and should your relationship come to an end.
Unmarried individuals have substantially fewer legal rights than those who are married. If someone was to give up their career to raise children, this could leave them in a weaker financial position. A cohabitation agreement can address this, by giving them an equal share of assets.
The agreement can include any issues you want and will often cover the following points:
- Ownership of property
- How savings and investments will be shared
- Ownership of valuation items, to include cars
- Who will pay the mortgage or rent
- Financial provision for children
- How bills will be shared
- Who is responsible for debts and other liabilities
- Whether pensions will be shared
- What will happen to pets
Cohabitation dispute resolution
Although unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership, you may be entitled to some help if you separate but were not married.
If you contributed towards a home that you shared on the basis that you would have an interest in it, you may be able to make a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. If you will be the main carer for your children, you will also be entitled to receive maintenance payments from their other parent.
We can advise you of your rights and work on your behalf to reach an agreement with your former partner.
Parental responsibility refers to the legal rights, responsibilities and duties that a parent has in respect of their child. Birth mothers automatically have parental responsibility along with fathers who are married to the mother at the time of the birth. Unmarried fathers will also have parental responsibility if they are named on the birth certificate.
Those with parental responsibility have the right to be consulted about issues such as a child’s education, healthcare, overseas travel, relocating, the child’s religion and their name as well as the right to make ordinary everyday decisions on behalf of the child.
Where someone does not have parental responsibility, for example, because they are not named on the birth certificate, they are a step-parent, they are same-sex parents where one person does not qualify or the child was born to a surrogate, it is possible to ask the court to grant parental responsibility.
If you want parental responsibility and there are other individuals in the child’s life who already have this consent, we can draw up a parental responsibility agreement for them to sign granting this to you.
Alternatively, we can apply to the court on your behalf to request that you be granted parental responsibility.
Domestic violence and emotional abuse
If you have experienced domestic violence, our family law team can step in straightaway on your behalf to start legal proceedings to protect you. We can ask the court to grant an injunction prohibiting an abusive partner from violence, threats, harassment and from coming to your home and place of work. We can also help if the abuse extends to your children.
We deal with a full range of domestic abuse issues, to include physical abuse, emotional abuse such as controlling and coercive behaviour and gaslighting, sexual abuse and verbal abuse. You will find our team approachable and understanding and you can be sure that we will do all we can to protect you from the start.
Where necessary we can apply to the court for an occupation order in respect of your home, preventing your partner from living in your home or in a certain part of your home.
We understand the need to move quickly in domestic abuse situations. We recommend that you contact us without delay and we will start work at once in dealing with the situation on your behalf. If you are not safe, you should ring 999 as a priority.
Using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for family law
Wherever possible, we aim to resolve family law issues without the need for litigation. The courts always prefer that matters are settled in this way, particularly in relation to children.
We are experienced negotiators and are often able to settle matters directly with the other side’s solicitor. Where this is not possible, the next step is to consider alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. It is a legal requirement to attend an exploratory mediation meeting unless you are a victim of domestic abuse.
Mediation is a type of ADR and involves a neutral mediator explaining your options to you and working with both parties to help you try and find an acceptable solution. There are many advantages to mediation and other forms of ADR such as collaborative law, including the fact that they are usually much quicker than waiting for a court hearing, more cost-effective and they prevent a relationship from deteriorating. Helping couples work together to resolve matters can be particularly helpful when children are involved.
Our family law fees
Fixed fee family law services
We offer fixed fees for some family law work so that we can advise you in advance of the cost. This will give you complete certainty over the amount to be charged.
Hourly rates for family law advice
For other matters, our charges will be made on an hourly rate. We will let you know in advance of the rate and the likely costs and we will ensure that you have the right level of expertise to help you.
For more information, see our page on hourly pricing. We are always happy to discuss the likely costs of the work that you need with you.
Our London family law team
Speak to our London family lawyers today
We offer clear, honest and pragmatic advice that is valued by our clients at what is often a difficult time. If you need help with a family law issue, please give us a call.