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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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.

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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.

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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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Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

  • Who’s entitled to Spousal Maintenance? How’s it calculated?
  • What’s a Clean Break, and is it the answer?
  • And what about Nominal, Capitalised, or Secured Maintenance?
  • And what on earth is a Duxbury Calculation?

Here’s a quick answer to all these questions and more, and I hope you’ll find it helpful. If anything’s not clear, please leave a comment, or get in touch. And right at the end I mention some of the topics I’ll be covering in my next blog about Child Maintenance.

Can I Claim Maintenance (aka Periodical Payments)?

It depends on your financial circumstances. The Court used to make lifelong Maintenance orders as a matter of course. But now a “Clean Break” is much more likely.

What’s a “Clean Break”?

It’s when the Matrimonial assets are shared out and you call it a day, you have no continuing right to Maintenance. But people do still sometimes avoid a Clean Break and get a Maintenance order, so read on.

What are the Options for Maintenance?

Maintenance can be:

  • Open ended
  • For a fixed period of time
  • Capitalised (see below)
  • Secured (see below)
  • Dismissed (see below)
  • Not dismissed but not in payment – a “Nominal Periodical Payments” order (see below)

How is Maintenance Worked Out?

It’s usually a question of need. What does the lesser earner, usually the parent with whom the children live, need in order to pay all the outgoings?

It’s only in exceptional cases that entitlement goes beyond needs, and this is where there’s an excess of income. There’s no set formula but the Courts say the concepts of “sharing” and “compensation” should be applied.

How Do “Sharing” and “Compensation” Differ from “Needs”

“Sharing” is, briefly, the idea of sharing in the “fruits of the marriage”. So it’s an attempt at fairness rather than just covering needs. “Compensation” refers to big money divorces where Maintenance is likely to go far beyond needs. These complex areas are discussed in the cases of Miller and McFarlane.

If there’s high income in your divorce, you’d be wise to seek advice from an expert Family Solicitor to make sure you don’t miss out. Most offer initial free advice. We certainly do.

What is Capitalised Maintenance?

The payer pays a lump sum upfront representing a certain amount of Maintenance over a certain period of time. Family lawyers use a Duxbury Calculation to work out the appropriate figure. This can result in a “Clean Break” (see above).

What’s a Duxbury Calculation?

Tables to work out a lump sum which represents the appropriate level and duration of Maintenance. They are contained in At A Glance, Essential Tables for Financial Remedies published by the Family Law Bar Association. The 2018-2019 edition comes out in April and can be preordered here for £70.

What is Secured Maintenance?

Are you worried your Maintenance won’t be paid? If so you can either agree, or the Court can make, a Secured Maintenance order. But this is only appropriate if the payer has sufficient assets to cover the payments.

What Happens When Entitlement to Maintenance is Dismissed?

You lose your entitlement to Maintenance. If you have the slightest doubt, seek advice from a Family Law solicitor.

What are Nominal Periodical Payments?

It’s when you’re not receiving Maintenance, but your entitlement is not dismissed. You might be able to go back for a second bite of the cherry if your circumstances change. These Maintenance orders are often worded as “five pence a year”.

Why are Nominal Periodical Payment Orders Important?

They protect the lesser earner, typically the parent who has the children living with them. So for example if the parent suffers a catastrophic injury and is unable to work, the order could be a safety net.

Can Maintenance Be Agreed?

Yes, of course. If you need a little guidance, “Pay As You Go” divorce costs can be helpful.  Otherwise you can try negotiation, collaborative law, or mediation. The last resort is an application to the Court which of course is expensive and stressful, but sometimes necessary.

Is a Court Order Necessary?

Even if there’s full agreement it’s wise to have a Consent Order. This prevents misunderstandings. A good Family Solicitor can draw up a Consent Order for a fixed fee.

Can Maintenance be Varied?

An application to the Court can be made by either of you if there’s been a change in circumstances. This could be for example illness or redundancy. Or perhaps one of you has landed a well paid job, or there’s been an inheritance.

What Happens If I Remarry?

Your Spousal Maintenance will end.

Next Week’s Blog – “Maintenance for Children”

Following on from this blog about “Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce” I will be posting a blog to cover the following questions:

  • Can I get Maintenance for the Children?
  • How much will it be?
  • Is there Maintenance for Children over 16 but not in full time education?
  • What about school fees?
  • Is it different if the absent parent is a very high earner?

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on Maintenance and Clean Break on divorce. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

See my blog about how to get the best financial settlement on divorce.

Did you know there are different rules for Short Marriages?


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.

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What comes first divorce or settlement?

What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

What comes first divorce or settlement

The answer is they should be going on at the same time. But it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until the finances have been sorted out. Why? Because if your other half dies after the divorce but before you have a Court order confirming the financial settlement, you could lose out as their widow or widower. And you could miss out on a fair share of their pension. Is this something that particularly concerns you? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

How much will the divorce cost

The Court fee is £550.

Need help with the Court forms? A “pay as you go” deal is the answer. This means you ask a solicitor for advice when needed, and limit the expense. But if you hand your divorce over to a solicitor, make sure you know how much they’re going to charge. Can you do the divorce yourself? See below.

What are the grounds for divorce

“Irretrievable breakdown” – and you have to rely on one of five reasons:

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

Unsure which to go for? For more details see my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know.

Can I do the divorce myself, or do I need a solicitor

Yes you can do it yourself.

But don’t be afraid to ask for help to avoid mistakes being made on the papers (and the Court sending them back). See my blog 10 Reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petitionA common problem is service, or forgetting to tick an important box, or failing to grapple with legal definitions of residence – a complication if you’re an international family.

A solicitor can also help if your other half is not acknowledging the proceedings.

How long does it take

Usually about four months but there can be pitfalls – see above.

How is the divorce settlement worked out

The starting point is equal division. But various factors are taken into account including:

  • The children’s welfare
  • Income and earning capacity
  • Financial needs
  • Standard of living
  • Your ages, and length of the marriage
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Contributions to the marriage

It’s an idea to ask an experienced family law solicitor for advice if there are:

Do I have to disclose my finances

See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce – 10 things you need to know.

Do I need a consent order

It’s a good idea. Because if one of you changes your mind, or if one of you comes into money, there’s no going back for a second bite of the cherry. And it’s relatively simple for a solicitor to draw one up. See my blog How do I get a consent order?

What comes first divorce or settlement

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for advice about What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? 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. 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 for What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? Sad Lucy by Tim Dawson on Wikimedia Commons

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