What is Family Mediation? 10 FAQs

What is Family Mediation?

What is family mediation and why is it a good idea for you and your family? Family mediation offers a low cost, fast route to reaching an agreement with your ex. Finding the right mediator could mean your children are given a voice, too. Sadly children often feel lost and confused in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown.

But how do you find the right mediator? Consult an experienced family lawyer for a recommendation.

1. What is Family Mediation

A trained mediator will help you to identify the issues between you and to reach an agreement. And if you can’t sit in the same room as your ex there can be ‘shuttle’ mediation.

But please take expert legal advice alongside the mediation process. Why? The mediator can’t advise you of your rights.

2. What does mediation cover

Whether married, in a civil partnership, or cohabitees, when a relationship breaks down there’s a lot to think about:

  • what’s going to happen to the family home
  • what are the best arrangements for the children
  • how much child support should be paid
  • how should the savings and pensions be divided

3. What is hybrid mediation

You both take your solicitors along with you to mediation. Why? Their presence can help keep things objective – especially if there’s conflict between you and your ex. Your solicitor can advise you, and can even speak on your behalf. Hybrid mediation is also helpful where a legal issue is getting in the way of settling your dispute.

4. What are the advantages of mediation

  • narrows and resolves issues with the help of a third party
  • cheaper and faster than going to Court
  • you can tailor an agreement to fit your family
  • children can be heard
  • you and your ex can move forward amicably

5. What about international families

Reaching an agreement with your ex can be challenging if one of you lives away, or even abroad. Some family lawyers offer Skype mediation. Here at Just Family Law we offer this at our Winchester office.

6. Why do I need legal advice during mediation

Mediators don’t give legal advice. What can you expect from a family lawyer during the mediation process? – they can:

  • recommend a mediator
  • advise you what a fair outcome would be
  • support you through the process

7. What happens when we’ve reached an agreement

The mediator records your agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding – however it’s not legally binding. How can you safeguard your agreement and avoid misunderstandings in the future? The answer is that you need a consent order.

8. What’s a consent order and how do I get one

A consent order is absolutely essential. Your solicitor will be able to prepare it for you. See my blog How do I get a Consent Order.

9. How can the lawyers at Just Family Law help me

We can:

  • provide in-house civil mediation for cohabitees when they can’t agree about their family home
  • recommend a suitable family mediator
  • support you in hybrid mediation
  • host Skype mediations in our Winchester office when your ex lives away or abroad
  • give you advice and support in the background as your mediation proceeds
  • prepare a consent order for you

Mediators are often solicitors, but not necessarily – many fully trained mediators are not solicitors. But please note: your solicitor and mediator can’t be the same person, or even in the same firm.

10. What is Family Mediation? – next steps …

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What is Family Mediation? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What is Family Mediation? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

considering divorce

Considering divorce? Here are some quick pointers to set you off in the right direction.

1. Everyone will have an opinion

Yes, that’s your family and friends, your neighbours and your colleagues at work. Even your Facebook friends. This can be distracting if you’re trying to figure out what to do. Struggling to see the wood for the trees? Time to get advice from an experienced family lawyer.

2. Try not to make a drama out of the divorce petition

A divorce petition can simply be a means to an end. You want to get divorced? – filling out the paperwork is how to go about it. Only you, your ex and the Court are ever likely to see the divorce petition, so try if you can not to fall out about it. If possible, agree which one of you is going to issue it and agree what it’s going to say. See my blog, Grounds for Divorce, 5 Things you Need to Know.

There are so many other more important things to focus on right now.

However if there’s been domestic abuse, or you believe the children are at risk, please seek immediate advice from an experienced family lawyer.

3. Address the finances

You can’t just leave things hanging, not indefinitely, because you will both be moving on. Important decisions need to be made about the assets – who gets what – and about child maintenance. See my blogs How do you Split Assets in a Divorce and What are your Child Maintenance Options? 

The divorce and the finances can run in parallel, see my blog What Comes First, Divorce or SettlementIf you can agree it all between you, that’s great. But please get legal advice on your rights – a one off appointment won’t cost much. After all, this is the rest of your life.

You both need closure and certainty when it comes to the finances. This means a Court order. But this doesn’t mean you have to attend at the Court, or that it will cost you a fortune – it can be a simple process. See my blog How to get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide.

4. The lawyers don’t have to win

Try to talk to your ex even if it’s really hard. If you fall out you may have to put everything into the lawyers’ hands. Worst case scenario, it all ends up in Court. This could cost you a great deal. Try these alternative approaches:

5. Pension or family home?

If you’re thinking you want to stay in the family home, come what may, take a moment to think. A share of your ex’s pension might be more valuable to you, long term. In many years time when you retire, you might discover that your ex is sitting pretty with a huge pension. Whereas you’re scrabbling around with a tiny pension and a big house that needs lots of maintenance.

This might be an opportunity to plan for the future. Perhaps you can downsize, release some capital for your ex, and get a share of their pension in return? This may take a little extra effort but might be worth it in the long term. Speak to an experienced family lawyer.

6. Ring fencing assets, your inheritance, pension, business …

Can you ring fence your assets? It depends. See my blogs Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce and How to Protect Inheritance on DivorceDo you have to throw your business into the melting pot? See my blog, How to Protect Business on Divorce.

Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Ten Top Tips for Divorce: What Should You Do First?

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

The holidays can sound the death knell for a relationship. But what should you do first? Here are Ten Top Tips for Divorce.

1. Consult

Arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor. This can be low cost or even no cost, and can set you off in the right direction.

2. Talk

Try to talk to each other about arrangements for the children and finances. Talking, however painful it might be, could help you reach a less stressful, quicker, less expensive solution.

3. Avoid Court

Try to avoid Court proceedings about the children and finances. See my blog How to avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration.

4. Ground rules

If you’re still under the same roof and able to communicate, try to agree some ground rules:

  • sleeping and eating arrangements
  • payment of bills, the mortgage
  • care of children
  • how soon can one of you move out? This will lessen the strain for each of you and for the children

5. Can’t talk?

Under the same roof but you can’t communicate? Probably a good time to consult a family solicitor.

6. Domestic abuse

Has there been violence or any other form of domestic abuse? Take legal advice ASAP.

7. What comes first, divorce or finances

I’ve written a blog answering this question: What Comes First, Divorce or Settlement.

8. Start divorce proceedings

This makes a mark in the sand for those who are finding it difficult to accept the relationship is over. It can also kick off discussions about finances. But in order to keep matters as amicable as possible try to agree who is going to start the divorce. Even better, agree what the reasons for divorce are. See my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know. 

9. Financial disclosure

Disclose your financial information, there’s really no way around this. See my blog, Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things you need to know.

10. Alternatives

Can’t agree about the children or the finances? Sometimes Court Proceedings are the only answer. But please make sure you’ve tried one of these alternative approaches first:

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Ten Top Tips for Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Ten Top Tips for Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

1. Can I do the divorce/end our civil partnership myself

Yes, here’s a guide to how to file for divorce in the UKIt also tells you about the challenges you might faceIf in doubt, consult an expert family lawyer.

2. How much will it cost

The Court fee is £550 but:

  • are you eligible for an exemption? Here’s a link to an application form, or
  • will your ex pay? You can ask the Court to make an order although it’s not guaranteed the Court will agree so try to reach agreement with your ex.

3. How long will it take

About four months ruling out mishaps with the paperwork. But it’s wise to delay completing your divorce until you have a financial order. Why? Because you might miss out on your fair share; eg if your ex dies after the divorce but before you have a financial order you could lose out on their pension. Not sure? Consult an expert family solicitor.

4. How are the finances split 

Equally – subject to the following factors:

  • welfare of children
  • income and earning capacity –  a “clean break” means a payment of capital instead of ongoing maintenance
  • financial needs – eg the care of children
  • standard of living during the marriage – in rare cases where there is an excess of capital and income this is an argument for a greater share
  • your ages, and the length of the marriage – different considerations apply if it’s a short marriage
  • disabilities – ongoing maintenance or extra capital may be the answer
  • contributions to marriage – high achievers can attempt to ring fence their “stellar contribution

Try to agree the finances with your ex – see my recent blog How to avoid Court for your options:

5. Do I have to disclose my finances

Yes. Hiding assets or income drags things out and can result in an expensive and never ending court case. You will disclose your assets and income in a Form E Financial Statement, and/or a Statement of Information for Consent Order (if your agreed settlement is protected in a consent order)

If you don’t make full disclosure you risk:

  • adverse inferences being drawn as to the extent of your assets
  • extra costs
  • imprisonment for contempt of Court

Think you’ve got away with it? The Court can overturn financial orders when non disclosure or fraudulent disclosure comes to light. Transferring assets to someone else? You risk a Court order freezing your assets and a hefty costs order. Hiding assets? You risk imprisonment for contempt of Court.

6. Can I ring fence my assets 

Yes, sometimes, but you must still give full and frank disclosure first. What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets on divorce? A prenuptial agreement.

If you’re already married, a post nuptial agreement. 

7. What’s a non matrimonial asset

Take advice because it depends on all the circumstances:

  • the house you owned before the marriage
  • the pension you paid since you started work
  • the inheritance that post dated separation
  • your business

But if there aren’t enough matrimonial assets left to fulfil your ex’s needs eg for housing, non matrimonial assets can be used to plug the gap.

8. Is it possible to ring fence and protect an earlier inheritance

Possibly if you never allowed it to be used as a matrimonial asset.

9. Can a business be ring fenced

Your ex might make a claim over your business but won’t automatically be entitled to a share of the business on divorce, and if they are, they could instead receive a larger share of other assets such as savings or the family home. Take advice, this is a tricky one.

Joint business? The options are:

  • split it between you
  • buy each other out
  • sell it

Here again a you might want to consider a post nuptial agreement.

10. My husband/wife/civil partner has left me what are my rights

Worried your ex will:

  • sell your home because it’s not in joint names
  • sell, hide or move valuable assets

The answers are:

  • an application to the Land Registry to register a Notice of Home Rights – anyone who is not a joint owner should register their home rights when a marriage breaks down
  • an urgent application to the Court to freeze assets

You need maintenance:

  • on an emergency basis
  • to support the children

The answers are:

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UKThe Government has announced it will legislate for no-fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time allows. If you are keen to start your divorce and not sure whether to wait until the law changes, speak to an expert family lawyer.

What is no-fault divorce?

This is a way of getting divorced without raising conflict. Currently you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Allegations of adultery and unreasonable behaviour raise tensions, and if the divorce is contested, the only option can be to wait five years. The most amicable solution at the moment is two years separation with consent. No-fault divorce means the marriage has broken down but no one is in the wrong, and you don’t have to wait for years.

Why has the Government decided to act?

Resolution and other organisations have been lobbying. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news. Mrs Owens said her marriage was over because of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. But he contested the divorce and she is now in the process of waiting five years to reach the end of her unhappy marriage.

Why is no-fault divorce a good idea?

Joanne Houston of Just Family Law says no-fault divorce will reduce conflict in divorce and protect children. She adds, “This presents an opportunity for parting couples to engage in a constructive rather than a destructive process.” Joanne is a specialist in collaborative family law which allows couples to reach amicable agreements, avoid Court proceedings, and move forward with dignity and positivity. See my post, What is collaborative family law. Other options are –

How will no-fault divorce work?

The details have yet to be fully formulated but there will be a minimum time from start to finish of six months. There will still be a decree nisi and decree absolute stage. See my recent post How to file for divorce for a basic guide to divorce under the current law.

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement.

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

 In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Can I Get a Divorce Online?


Can I Get a Divorce Online

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Yes, of course. The options are:

But did you know that a solicitor can do your divorce for you, often for less than you think?

I want a quick and cheap online divorce

Things to watch out for:

  • Are they properly qualified?  Don’t rely on untrained and unqualified people
  • Don’t go so quickly that you forget to protect your share of the matrimonial finances. There’s the family home, and you don’t want to miss out on pensions or the family business either. See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce?
  • Have you agreed the arrangements for the children?
  • Neither arrangements for the children nor matrimonial finances are addressed in divorce proceedings. Check out your rights with a properly qualified family lawyer. Fixed fees or pay as you go costs are available.

How do I know the online service providers are properly qualified?

Good question. Expert legal help is important but the terminology is confusing: lawyer, solicitor, barrister, paralegal, chartered legal executive, collaborative lawyer, mediator. What does it all mean?

“Lawyer” can mean solicitor, barrister, or indeed any of the above.

A solicitor is highly qualified and experienced and can advise you and represent you in Court. You can find a good one online at Resolutionan organisation of family lawyers who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach.

A barrister can advise you and represent you, but usually your solicitor instructs them, rather than you.

A collaborative lawyer works with you, your partner and their lawyer in face to face negotiations to resolve your family disputes. Collaborative family law can help you shape your own future after divorce, and avoid the heartbreak of Court proceedings.

A mediator can help you and your partner work things out together. They can help you identify the issues between you and help you resolve them. Find a good one at Resolution

A chartered legal executive is similar to a solicitor but tends to have trained in only one area of the law, and must be supervised. Find a chartered legal executive on the CILEx website. Incidentally, the title “legal executive” can be misleading. Check whether they are actually chartered or not.

A paralegal has some legal training but is not a solicitor or chartered legal executive. Find a paralegal on the Professional Paralegal Register

You say go to a solicitor, but they cost too much

Not always! Family solicitors usually offer initially free advice, fixed fees, payment plans or pay as you go. See the How we charge page on our website. Compare these to the charges for online divorce – you might be pleasantly surprised. You will have the assistance of a properly qualified and experienced solicitor with personal knowledge of your case. And if your solicitor is local, you can actually meet her.

Why should I consult a solicitor?

  • A divorce doesn’t sort out the finances or the children. These are separate.
  • Things can get complicated – hidden assets, the risk of child abduction
  • A family solicitor will drop everything to protect you and your children
  • Decisions about property, pensions etc will affect the rest of your life

Can I talk to a proper solicitor please?

Yes, of course.  Joanne Houston at Just Family Law would be delighted to help you. And talking to a solicitor doesn’t mean you can’t have a DIY divorce.

I want a life beyond divorce

Then think about collaborative family law or mediation.

Family consultants who practise as counsellors or life coaches can help manage the separation and can be directly involved in the collaborative law process too.

Everyone is entitled to expert, professional advice

So certainly look online, but don’t forget to protect your future and the future of your children by organising a free or fixed cost interview with a family law solicitor.

It’s like when you’re organising a holiday. However independent you want to be in your travel plans, you don’t want to fly the plane yourself. There’s an experienced pilot for that.

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Can I Get a Divorce Online? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs. 

The topics covered in this blog post Can I Get a Divorce Online? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK …

The bad news is your marriage or civil partnership is over. But the good news is it’s now a lot simpler to get divorced thanks to the online system. I’m going to explain what you need to look out for and what it all means.

There’s rarely any need to attend Court and the whole process takes only four to six months but this doesn’t include the finances and and it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until they’re sorted out.

But if you would rather a lawyer do the divorce for you make sure you chose one who is committed to a non confrontational approach to family problems, such as Just Family Law’s Joanne Houston.

How a divorce starts …

One of you fills in a divorce petition (the petitioner) and the Court serves it on the other (the respondent).

What a divorce does …

It ends a marriage or a civil partnership but it doesn’t sort out the finances or the arrangements for the children.

Take the bull by the horns …

Did you know that divorce, finances and the arrangements for the children can all be addressed at the same time? See my blog What comes first, divorce or settlement?

If you can’t agree between yourselves you have the following options:

  • Help from a lawyer
  • Start Court proceedings yourself
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law

Collaborative law is an opportunity to build a positive future for you and your family. See my recent blog What is collaborative law?

What’s needed to start a divorce …

  • Marriage certificate
  • Court fee of £550 unless you’re eligible to exemption from fees
  • The respondent’s address

Here’s a link to an application form to help with Court fees

How to fill in the divorce petition …

The online divorce service is on the GOV.UK site, here’s a link

It’s straightforward to fill in but there are some tricky questions. For example if you weren’t born in either England or Wales or if you live in another country. Or if you don’t know the respondent’s address. There are notes to help you but don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

The grounds for divorce …

The most popular is unreasonable behaviour. The least contentious is two year’s separation with consent. See my blog, Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Financial claims …

The form asks, “Do you want to apply for a financial order?” To be on the safe side tick Yes as the Court will take no action but it will leave it open for the future. Don’t risk missing out on pensions or the business or being left with debts that aren’t yours. And a Consent Order recording your financial settlement is essential to protect you.

Don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

Costs …

How to answer, “Costs – if you wish to claim costs from the respondent.” There are a number of things to bear in mind:

  • the expense of the Court fee to start a divorce which is currently £550
  • the availability of exemption from fees (see above “What’s needed to start a divorce”)
  • whether the respondent can afford to pay a costs order
  • the likelihood of the Court making a costs order

If you aren’t eligible to exemption from fees, and the respondent can afford to pay a costs order, see if the respondent will agree to pay or at least contribute.

Risks …

The respondent defends the petition. See my blog No fault divorce, your questions answered about the Owens case and the risk of the respondent defending an unreasonable behaviour petition.

What happens next …

The Court serves your divorce petition on the respondent and they acknowledge service of it, which means they fill in a form saying they’ve received the petition. Once you receive the acknowledgment of service from the Court you can fill in a statement in support.

Next the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi. You don’t have to attend Court for this.

The decree nisi …

Your marriage isn’t over yet but it’s an important stage if you are sorting out financial matters as a Consent Order recording your settlement can now be sealed by the Court.

Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. But there are pros and cons. Should you wait until you have obtained a Court order confirming the financial arrangements between you? See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? How to protect your financial settlement

The decree absolute …

  • You are no longer married
  • You can remarry or enter a civil partnership
  • Your consent order about the finances comes into force

How to File for Divorce in the UK

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to File for Divorce in the UK. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs. 

The topics covered in this blog post How to File for Divorce in the UK are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? You deserve a “little bit of help” …

Can I go to Court without a SolicitorBefore you rush off to Court please take a minute to understand the options open to you.

Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? 

Yes, you can deal with the Court papers and represent yourself in Court. But it will be a stressful and often bewildering experience and you might not end up with the result you expected. You might be left with the nagging feeling you could have done better if you’d had a little bit of help from a solicitor.

But I can’t afford a solicitor!

Employing a solicitor to do the whole thing is way out of reach of a lot of people’s pockets. So how can you get that vital little bit of help? I suggest you cherry pick the help you need and agree a price up front.

How can I cherry pick help from a solicitor?

Many offer pay as you go costs. This covers all aspects of family law including children cases. See my post Pay as you go costs

Decide what you would like a little bit of help with. For example:

  • Will you win your case?
  • How to show your case to its best advantage
  • Assistance –
    • filling in Court forms
    • issuing your case
    • Court procedure
    • Court orders

Free initial advice from a solicitor

Initial advice from a solicitor is usually free. So chat to a couple, find the one you like, and agree a fee. They can give you a little bit of help. You will know they are at the end of the phone if you get really stuck.

What are the other options?

Are you eligible to Legal Aid? Or to help with Court fees.

If you simply want someone to sit with you in Court for moral support and to take notes, ask a friend or family member to be your McKenzie Friend.

Otherwise there are charities and organisations who offer help for free:

What is a McKenzie Friend?

This is someone who gives you a hand with your case, sits with you in Court, takes notes etc. A Professional McKenzie Friend will charge you.

What are the pros and cons of using a solicitor, a charity, a McKenzie Friend?

Solicitors have years of legal training (which they have to keep up to date). They are:

  • knowledgeable and have daily, frontline experience in the law
  • fully regulated and insured
  • able to take steps in Court proceedings
  • able to be your advocate in Court
  • all too familiar with what you are going through because sadly they have seen it so many times before.

A charity or advice organisation?

They will help you as much as they legally can. They can give you moral support, take notes, coach you on what to say.

But unless they are qualified they cannot take steps for you in the proceedings or be your advocate in Court without the Court’s permission. And they may not want to get this involved. If they are not qualified they won’t necessarily have up to the minute knowledge of the law and how Court cases play out. They might not be insured in case they get it horribly wrong.

This goes for a non professional McKenzie friend, too, such as a friend or family member.

A professional McKenzie Friend?

As per charity and advice organisations above. Except they aren’t free. Some are insured and self regulated, but some are not.

What’s the answer?

You get what you pay for. If you are having a scrap with a debtor who owes you a couple of thousand, by all means do the whole case yourself.

But if your marriage or civil partnership has broken down and you can’t agree the arrangements for the children or the finances, please get a little bit of help from a solicitor. And the same goes for grandparents who are suffering the heartbreak of not being able to see their grandchildren.

If you can’t afford a solicitor to be your advocate in Court by all means ask a friend or family member to be your McKenzie Friend, or employ a professional McKenzie Friend. But please check them first. Are they part of a self regulated group? Are they insured? How experienced are they in the area of the law you are involved in?

And don’t forget about the voluntary and charitable organisations that can help you.

Can I go to Court without a Solicitor?

Yes, of course. But make sure you get a little bit of help from a solicitor.

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on your options, and an honest, straightforward answer to your question, Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering pay as you go costs. We offer collaborative law which provides solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Can I go to Court without a Solicitor? are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image New Age Children by Sarah Zeghraba on Wikimedia

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No Fault Divorce – Your Questions Answered

No Fault DivorceWhy is no fault divorce in the news?

The Government is considering no fault divorce because our current system isn’t working well. If you want to divorce you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Unsure which reason to rely on? See my blog Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Why has the Government decided to look at no fault divorce?

Resolution (an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes) has been lobbying for no fault divorce for years. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news.

What is Owens v Owens about?

Mrs Owens wants to divorce her husband. She gave twenty seven examples of his unreasonable behaviour: he is moody, argumentative and disparaging. But he defended the divorce saying the marriage wasn’t over, and he disputed the behaviour his wife had mentioned.

The Judge disagreed with Mr Owens – the marriage was clearly over – but he said the examples of behaviour were flimsy and exaggerated and Mrs Owens could not have her divorce. This meant she would have to stay married to Mr Owens. She appealed.

What happened when Mrs Owens appealed?

On 25 July 2018 the Supreme Court said the Judge was right when he said her reasons weren’t good enough. But the Supreme Court also said it felt “uneasy” and that “Parliament may wish to consider whether to replace a law which denies to Mrs Owens … a divorce”.

What’s the solution for Mrs Owens?

She will have to stay married to Mr Owens until they have lived apart for five years.

What is the Government doing? 

The Ministry of Justice has published a consultation paper, Reform of the legal requirements for divorce. They are asking whether divorce should simply be on the ground of irretrievable breakdown with no need to mention reasons. And whether the ability to ‘defend’ a divorce should end. The consultation closes 10 December.

Why is no fault divorce a good idea?

  • Angry spouses won’t be able to block divorces
  • People won’t have to stay married when they don’t want to
  • There will be less conflict
  • Couples will be able to concentrate on what is best for the children
  • They will be more likely to reach an amicable agreement about the finances, by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law
  • Our current divorce system dates to 1969. We live in a very different society and women are seen as equal partners in a marriage
  • Legal bills will be lower
  • There will be fewer contested divorces. Our Courts are stretched and so this might make everything a bit better for all of us

Is no fault divorce going to make more people divorce?

The breakdown of a relationship is hard enough as it is without the Court procedure adding to the difficulties. And in reality couples often agree how to word their divorces. “I’ll admit to adultery,” or “You can mention that unreasonable behaviour.”

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

Can I do the divorce myself? 

Yes. But if you are struggling read my blog 10 reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petition

No Fault Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on any of the issues raised in this blog. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Couple by Muramasa on Wikimedia

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New Family Solicitor in Dorset and the West Midlands

Family Solicitor in Dorset and the West Midlands

Expert family solicitor in Dorset and the West Midlands

Just Family law introduces Karen Layland, our experienced and highly recommended family solicitor in Dorset and the West Midlands.

Karen has over 25 years experience in:

  • divorce
  • family law
  • assisting people who live together

and she can help both at the start and the end of relationships.

As an Advanced member of the Law Society Family Law Accredited Panel Karen is a recognised expert covering specialist family law work.

Personally recommended family solicitor in Dorset and the West Midlands

Almost all of Karen’s work comes from personal recommendations. This is because of her pragmatic and proactive approach. As a result she has an enviable reputation built on commitment to her clients.

All of your family law needs in the Bournemouth and Birmingham areas can now be met by Karen at our competitive rates.

She offers our clients a first class service and we are proud and delighted she is on our team.

Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

In addition we can now assist with the preparation of wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. Everyone should have a will but it is even more important if you have children, or you own property or business, or have savings, investments, insurance policies …

This is certainly a valuable addition to the services Just Family Law already offers you and your family.

To book a 20 minute telephone consultation, or a Skype review with Karen, or an initial face to face meeting, please telephone 01202 798199 or email karenlayland@just-family-law.com

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Karen Layland by Just Family Law

 

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