Many people can forget that as well as being an emotional union of a couple, marriage is also a legally binding contract. That means that once a couple say “I do”, they are bound to each other under law as well as in the eyes of their family and friends.

It is important to remember this when considering dissolving a marriage to ensure you are fully aware of all the implications and issues that may need to be addressed.

RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS       

Whether you’re married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting when a relationship comes to an end it can be an extremely distressing and confusing time. Many people experience relationship problems but a lot of people are unaware of the options available to them.

 

 

 Family problems, divorce, separation, negotiationMARRIED

Reconciliation and counselling with a view to saving the partnership. Obviously, this will have to be a joint decision

An informal separation. This does not involve Court proceedings but you can formalise financial issues and matters regarding the children by entering into a Separation Agreement which is a form of contract. The Separation Agreement serves the purpose of recording the fact that you have decided to live separate lives. However, you must both consent to the drafting of such a document. It must be borne in mind that once a Separation Agreement has been signed, it does not necessarily preclude either one of you from making a further financial claim against the other within divorce proceedings at a later date. The Separation Agreement would certainly assist you with demonstrating your intentions at the time the Agreement was signed and generally record the fact that the agreement reached was in full and final settlement.

  1. Judicial Separation. This is a legal separation that involves Court proceedings and the end result is that you receive a decree stating that you are officially separated although, you are still married.

  2. Divorce. There is only one ground for commencing divorce proceedings and that is irretrievable breakdown of marriage. You must evidence this breakdown by relying on one of five different facts:

    1.  Adultery

    2.  Unreasonable Behaviour

    3.  Desertion

    4.  Two years separation with consent

    5.  Five years separation

    If you issue divorce proceedings then you will need your marriage certificate. We offer a fixed fee undefended divorce / dissolution and further information regarding our fees is available on in our Fees section.

     

CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

If you have entered in to a civil partnership with your partner and your relationship breaks down, the options available to you include:

  1. Reconciliation and counselling with a view to saving the partnership. Obviously, this will have to be a joint decision

  2. An informal separation. This does not involve Court proceedings but you can formalise financial issues and matters regarding the children by entering into a Separation Agreement which is a form of contract and is enforceable through the Courts if the terms are not adhered to. The Deed serves the purpose of recording the fact that you have decided to live separate lives. However, you must both consent to the drafting of such a document. It must be borne in mind that once a Separation Agreement has been signed, it does not necessarily preclude either one of you from making a further financial claim against the other within dissolution proceedings at a later date. The Agreement would certainly assist you with demonstrating your intentions at the time the Agreement was signed and generally record the fact that the Agreement reached was in full and final settlement.

If you want to end your civil partnership you need to get permission from a court. There are different ways you can ask a court to end your civil partnership. You can ask the court to grant:

1. Dissolution order. Your civil partnership must have lasted for at least one year before you can apply for a dissolution order. There is only one ground for commencing dissolution proceedings and that is irretrievable breakdown of your partnership. You must evidence this breakdown by relying on one of four different facts:

  1.  Unreasonable Behaviour

  2.  Desertion

  3.  Two years separation with consent

  4.  Five years separation

2. Separation order. You don't have to wait until your civil partnership has lasted for a year before you can apply for a separation order and you don't have to have been living apart either. You can apply for a separation order at any time and the same facts as the dissolution order will need to be proved.

ANNULMENT OF YOUR MARRIAGE

Web-site www.gov.uk gives you a full information:

1. When you can annul a marriage 

 

1. Your marriage is not legally valid - ‘void’ marriages

  • you are closely related
  • you are the same sex
  • one of you was under 16
  • one of you was already married or in a civil partnership

 

2. Your marriage is defective - ‘voidable’ marriages
  • it wasn’t consummated (you haven’t had sex with the person you married since the wedding)
  • you didn’t properly consent to the marriage - eg you were drunk or forced into it
  • the other person had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
  • the woman was pregnant by another man when you got married
Annulment is a way of ending a marriage, like divorce.
Unlike divorce, you can get a marriage annulled at any time after the wedding (in a divorce, you have to wait at least a year).
You may want an annulment if you have religious reasons against divorce.
However, you need to show that the marriage was either not valid in the first place, or is defective for one of the reasons given below.
You can annul a marriage if it was not legally valid in the first place, eg:
If a marriage was not legally valid, the law says that it never existed.
However, you may need legal paperwork to prove this - eg if you want to get married again.
You can annul a marriage if:
Marriages annulled for these reasons are known as ‘voidable’ marriages.
The rules on annulling a civil partnership are slightly different, but the court forms are the same'.

 

 This procedure can take between six to eight months. The Court fees for this is £410.00. 

Dissolution order, separation order, annulment, cohabitation

UNMARRIED PARTNERS        

(COHABITATION)

If you live with your partner and are not married or have not entered into a civil partnership then your legal rights and entitlements are based upon the law of contract, rather than Family Law (except matters relating to children). If you do not wish to enter into a marriage or civil partnership but want to provide for one another in the event the relationaship breaks down,. please see Cohabitee Agreements. If your relationship has broken down, and if you both don't wish to reconcile, then please call to arrange a free initial appointment when we can discuss your options. The law in this area is fairly confusing and complex and we would suggest that you take legal advice.

Further information can be found at www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights 

Divorce, prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement

Agreements       

In the case of all of the agreements mentioned below, it is essential that they are entered into under each party's free will, without coercion or duress and that before the document is entered into there has been full and frank disclosure of each party's assets. It is preferable for both parties to take separate independent legal advice before signing the document.

Prenuptial Agreements

Until recently, prenuptial agreements were disregarded under English Family law. It is the case, however, that more and more weight is being given to these agreements, so long as they have been properly entered into.

A prenuptial agreement provides clarity for couples in respect of their finances and children in their relationship. A Prenuptial Agreement is suitable for both marrying couples and couples about to register their Civil Partnership.  
The Agreement must be entered into voluntarily, each party having had independent legal advice and must be signed at least 21 days prior to any wedding or civil partnership ceremony.
 
Your assistant will obtain the information needed from you and create an agreement for your signature. The Courts are not obliged under UK law to keep to the agreement but unless there have been significant changes they are likely to regard the agreement as very persuasive. As a result of recent case law, provided the relevant conditions are met, they are more likely to be upheld.Recent case law has shown that a properly executed prenuptial agreement is one of the factors which a Court will take into consideration when deciding how family assets should be divided.

In order for a prenuptial agreement to be given weight, it must be clear that the agreement was entered into freely and with the benefit of full knowledge. It is important that the document is completed in good time before the intended Wedding or Civil Partnership.

Postnuptial Agreements

It is possible to regulate how you intend to share the assets in the event of divorce or dissolution, even after the wedding or civil partnership has taken place. As with prenuptial agreements, a postnuptial agreement will be taken into account by the Court when deciding how family assets should be divided.

Again, it is essential that the document is entered into freely and with the benefit of full knowledge.

Cohabitee Agreements

If you do not wish to marry or to enter into a civil partnership, it is still possible to regulate how you intend to divide assets in the event of separation. As with the above agreements, it is essential to be able to show that the Agreement has been entered into freely and with full knowledge. 

Legal Aid     

From 1 April 2013, Legal Aid (Public Funding) will no longer be available to the majority of people wishing to deal with 'family related' matters.

This will mean that the majority of people, even those who rely totally on State Benefits, will have to pay for legal advice and representation.

We are very much aware that dealing with divorce, dissolution, division of assets and disputes regarding children can be a minefield and can be very daunting. We have therefore devised a fee structure for assisting with each stage of these various issues. This will give you the flexibility to instruct us to provide you with legal advice and assistance throughout your matter or, if you cannot afford this, to select those matters with which you feel you absolutely need legal advice and assistance, and to allow you to deal with some issues yourselves, as you feel able to.

A word of warning

When you issue an application to the Court, the Court will set a timetable for the matter to be dealt with which you will need to adhere to - the Court will not wait until you can afford to obtain advice on the next stage of the proceedings.

Disclaimer

If you believe you may qualify for Public Funding, we recommend you speak with a firm of solicitors who offer this service. A list of such firms can be found at http://legaladviserfinder.justice.gov.uk Alternatively, you may wish to visit www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid to find out more about the availability of Public Funding.


If you would like our assistance then please call or email us 01234 854055 for initial free advice or alternatively to book an initial free appointment.

Call us 01234 854055, 07428 793410