Sadly, there are times when relationships and family life reach a point of crisis or breakdown; and the legal repercussions can be complex. It’s at these times of heightened emotions, tension and vulnerability that you want a lawyer who not only has the experience and in-depth knowledge of the family law system, but who has the empathy, sensitivity and understanding to support you through a difficult time.
At HMG we are both a voice of reason and an arm around the shoulder. Our kind, approachable and professional family solicitors really listen to you and provide pragmatic, sensitive advice tailored to your individual family situation and how it might be handled in the quickest and most cost-effective way. Whether that involves advice and mediation in divorce and arrangements for children, issues of domestic violence, or guidance on prenuptial or separation agreements. We’re here to help you make sense of everything and move forward with your life feeling lighter and brighter.
Please contact us today to arrange a fixed-fee consultation for £120 +VAT (including an electronic ID check).
Information on our Services
The Benefits of Instructing a Family Solicitor
When you’re facing marriage breakdown there’s nothing stopping you attempting to reach an agreement without professional help, but there are risks attached. If there is any imbalance of power within the relationship, one party could exert undue pressure on the other to agree to an unfavourable financial settlement or arrangement for the children.
As well as ensuring that any agreement reached is fair, taking advice from a family solicitor will ensure that your agreement is properly formalised and becomes a court order which you will be able to enforce in future if your ex-spouse does not comply with the terms. A properly formalised agreement ensures finality and limits the risk of future court proceedings.
What might be stopping you from instructing a family solicitor?
You may have two particular worries: the risk of increasing tensions, and costs.
You might be concerned that instructing a solicitor will make a tense situation worse, but this should not be the case. At HMG we are considerate, sympathetic human beings and we want you to reach an amicable solution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, in a constructive and non-confrontational way. Acrimonious court proceedings can so often be avoided, and we try to manage that in as many cases as possible.
You might also be worried about expensive legal fees. We understand that and will always discuss costs with you at the outset, providing an estimate based on your particular circumstances and issues, leaving no nasty surprises. We can also offer individual funding arrangements including, in some cases, delaying payment of fees until the conclusion of the matter. In many cases, we will be able to provide a fixed fee quote for some or all of the work required.
What's the real value of instructing a family solicitor?
Ultimately it can be far costlier in the long term not to take legal advice at the outset of a matter. In divorce, proper advice can be invaluable particularly if family assets are complicated or include business assets, or if you suspect your spouse will try to conceal the full extent of their assets, or dispose of them.
There is also a risk that you could find yourself in trouble if the matter eventually ends up in court. For example, there are rules regarding dealing with the other party’s private financial documentation. If these are not followed, you could find yourself ordered to pay costs or in the worst-case scenario face prosecution.
Taking legal advice makes you aware of all options available to you, enabling you to make measured, informed decisions in an emotionally-charged situation. Our friendly, sensitive and experienced team have been helping local families with issues of divorce and separation for many years and brought resolution to many different situations. If you do sadly find yourself in this position, please get in touch to arrange a friendly no-obligation fixed-fee meeting and see how we can help guide you through this difficult time towards a fresh start.
What is divorce?
A divorce is the legal ending of a marriage on the grounds that it has irretrievably broken down. One of five facts needs to be asserted to support the ground of irretrievable breakdown: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for two years, two years’ separation and consent, or five years’ separation.
The divorce process is usually fairly straightforward and can be completed in approximately four to six months. There is normally no need for parties to attend court.
And what are the costs?
When a relationship ends it can be a confusing and stressful time for all involved, and many clients are concerned about spiralling costs associated with getting divorced.
However, divorces do not need to be complicated, particularly if both parties have agreed that the marriage is over. Unless there is a dispute regarding the grounds of the divorce itself, parties do not need to attend court. It normally takes between four and six months for the divorce to be concluded – although this period can lengthier if there are disputes about finances or arrangements for children.
At HMG Law Firm we are big believers in clarity and trust, offering clear fixed fees for divorce proceedings.
Our fixed fee for acting for the Petitioner (the instigator of the divorce) to obtain a divorce is £750 plus VAT, in addition to which a court fee of £550 is payable by the Petitioner. If you are on a low income you may qualify for a fee remission; we can advise you on this if applicable.
We also deal with divorce on behalf of Respondents, for which our fixed fee is £250 plus VAT.
Often, parties negotiate an agreement that they will split the costs of the divorce equally. Again, this is something we can advise you on.
As part of our clear, succinct advice on divorce proceedings, our family team is able to help with aspects such as financial settlement [link], including tax planning advice where appropriate.
Our team also has extensive experience in dealing with arrangements for children [link] which are dealt with outside of divorce proceedings. We recognise that divorce or separation can be a very stressful time for children and we always aim to reach an arrangement that is in the children’s best interests.
Our family solicitors are all members of Resolution[link], the nationwide association of family lawyers, who promote a conciliatory and non-confrontational approach. We find this helps to reach the best outcome for our clients while keeping upheaval and upset to a minimum.
Get in touch with our team today to arrange an initial no-obligation conversation, and see how straightforward we can keep it.
Financial Settlement on Divorce
Dividing the matrimonial assets on divorce can be complicated and an area in which proper legal advice is crucial. The court can make orders in three areas:
- Orders for sale and/or transfer of property between the parties in order for lump sum payments between the parties.
- Orders for spousal maintenance when one party pays the other a level of maintenance for either a set period of time or for joint lives.
- Transfer of pension funds.
Not all of these are relevant in every case and there is a comprehensive list of factors which need to be taken into consideration before a fair and reasonable settlement can be agreed. Our plain-speaking family lawyers can translate how the law applies to your specific situation and help negotiate a settlement that is in your best interests.
Child maintenance is not usually dealt with by the court except in special circumstances (see arrangements for children [link].)
If you do find yourself facing divorce proceedings please contact us for more information or a confidential no-obligation fixed-fee initial meeting at your convenience.
Arrangements for Children
Unfortunately, the breakdown of a relationship can often lead to disputes regarding arrangements for the children. If you find yourself unable to resolve differences with your former partner, either at the time of separation or at any time in the future, then our specialist family solicitors are here to assist. We’ll step in to help you and your partner negotiate shared care arrangements that will work best for the children; and if such an agreement cannot be reached we will represent you in court proceedings, providing a calm, knowledgeable anchor in an emotional situation.
Our expert advice covers:
Child maintenance and financial support
Child arrangements – who the child should live with and how often they will see the other parent
Prohibited Steps Orders
Specific Issue Orders
Representation of grandparents as well as parents.
Speak to us today and see how our sensitive advice could help your family through the toughest of times.
Tragically, domestic violence is a reality in many relationships, affecting people regardless of class, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality or age. It can take many forms including physical or sexual violence, psychological abuse or financially controlling behaviour.
If you are experiencing any such treatment, there is a way out, and practical legal steps can be taken to protect you. The family courts can make orders, known as injunctions, designed to stop abusive behaviours and protect you and/or your children. The first is a Non-Molestation Order, aiming to prevent the reoccurrence of any violence or threat of violence, or intimidating and upsetting behaviour. Breaching a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence. The second is an Occupation Order, ordering the perpetrator of the abuse to leave the home or part of it and stay away; a power of arrest can also be attached.
We appreciate that speaking about domestic violence to an outsider can be a daunting and even embarrassing prospect. However, our experienced, sensitive family solicitors have significant experience in dealing with people who have suffered domestic violence within their relationship, and you can be confident you will be treated with respect, professionalism and utmost confidentiality.
Prenuptial agreements are not, at present, legally binding the UK. However, following the landmark decision in the case of Radmacher v Granitino in October 2010 the weight courts will give to a properly constructed Prenuptial Agreement has substantially increased – and there may be a change in legislation to reflect this in the coming years.
Whilst prenuptial agreements might be perceived as pessimistic and unromantic, they can be of great assistance in reducing acrimony and expense on the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.
If you are engaged to marry or enter into a civil partnership then you should consider a Prenuptial agreement if:
- You have significant assets already in your own name
- You are due to inherit significant assets
- You have an interest in a family business or the likelihood of gaining such an interest
- There is substantial imbalance in the assets held between you and your partner.
We regularly advise on prenuptial agreements and would be delighted to answer your enquiries.
Separation agreements are a good option if divorce is not something you wish to pursue immediately, or where there are no legal grounds for divorce. If you and your spouse are able to agree how to divide your financial assets and separate amicably this is a good legal solution – and if a separation agreement has been prepared property, the court will have to find good reason not to uphold the agreement at a later date.
Where the division of financial assets is more complicated a separation agreement cannot legally settle these, although it can stipulate the intentions of the parties, and will carry a significant amount of weight with the court if there is a dispute regarding financial matters at a later point. Both parties need to be prepared to fully disclose their financial circumstances in making the agreement, and both sides need to be happy with the agreement reached.
At HMG we work hard to understand your individual situation and to provide relevant, sensitive advice to ensure the agreement process is as smooth and amicable as possible.
Speak to one of our experienced team today to find out more.
Living together without getting married
Many unmarried couples are unaware that the law treats them very differently from those who are married or in civil partnerships. They do not appreciate that there is no such thing in law as ‘common law husband and wife’, regardless of the length of the relationship. If they do separate, co-habiting couples usually find all sorts of legal complications in relation to children, mortgages, pensions and death.
To pre-empt and prevent such complications, many co-habiting couples are now drafting cohabitation agreements – a written contract drawn up between the couple to protect their interests in the unfortunate event of the relationship breaking down.
Your cohabitation agreement can cover a wide variety of aspects, and we can provide expert guidance through all the legalities, including future settlement and property, protecting assets held prior to the start of the relationship, wills, and inheritance tax planning. Where there are children involved, we can advise on putting property in trust and making appropriate financial provision for children.
It is vital your cohabitation agreement is drafted by an experienced family lawyer to ensure it is legally binding and affords the maximum possible protection to both parties.
Contact our approachable family team today and get the right protection in place should the worst happen.
Members of Resolution
Our family solicitors are all members of Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association), an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. Resolution also campaigns for improvements to the family justice system.
Resolution supports the development of family lawyers through its national and regional training programmes, through publications and good practice guides and through its accreditation scheme. Resolution also trains and accredits mediators and is the only body providing training and support for collaborative lawyers in England and Wales.
The cornerstone of membership of Resolution is adherence to the Code of Practice which sets out the principals of a non-confrontation approach to family law matters. The principals of the code are widely recognised and have been adopted by the Law Society and recommended good practice for all family lawyers.
The Code requires lawyers to deal with each other in a civilised way and to encourage their clients to put their differences aside and reach fair agreements.