At Aston Knight solicitors, we understand that a relationship breakdown can be an extremely stressful and challenging time for all those involved. As a result, we are focused on offering the very best legal advice to get you the best possible outcome.
For many facing divorce, separation or issues concerning children, a trusted family lawyer plays a big part in helping to sort out what can be complex and difficult issues involving the family, children, the home and finances.
Our family law team specialise in providing our clients with sympathetic advice and assistance to help you through this difficult time whilst ensuring you are aware of the options available to you.
Every case is different but from the outset our specialist solicitors are on hand to advise and guide you through the process ensuring your issues are handled in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Our experienced solicitors demonstrate both technical knowledge and a sympathetic approach. We promote results through problem-solving and encourage the use of alternatives to court whenever possible but possess the advocacy skills to represent your interest at court hearings when necessary.
At Aston Knight Solicitors we offer advice and representation in all aspects of family law. The areas we cover include:
- Divorce and Separation
- Marriage and Civil Partnerships
- Pre and Post Nuptial agreements
- Domestic Abuse
- Parental Responsibility
- Child Custody
- Child Contact
- Children’s rights
- Child protection
- Property rights
If you need help with a family matter, child protection case, divorce or other related matter, then our Family solicitors are here to help. Please contact us on 0800 999 6661 for a free appointment to discuss your case and the options available.
Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnerships
At Aston Knight solicitors we have a team of divorce solicitors who can help you deal with the process. We understand that every case is different and take great care in listening to our clients.
We understand that money is an important aspect of divorce proceedings. Our clients can benefit from a fixed fee structure so that they are fully aware of the legal costs before commencing divorce proceedings. If they prefer they can ‘pay as you go’ or pay by instalments.
Divorce is a relatively straightforward legal procedure provided there are no unforeseen circumstances. The average timescale for completion is four to six months.
- The Steps to Divorce
- The Petition
- The Acknowledgement of Service
- Decree Nisi
- Decree Absolute
The petition allows you to apply for divorce by asking for the Court’s permission. There is one ground for divorce and this is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Petitioner (the person applying for the divorce) must satisfy the Court of one or more of the five facts, which are set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973:
The respondent (the other party) has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with him or her;
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her;
- The respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
- Both parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;
- Both parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.
The Acknowledgement of Service
Once the petition is sent to the court, you will be issued with an Acknowledgement of Service form. This form is sent to the respondent (i.e. your spouse), along with the petition, and will inform them that you have requested a divorce. They will be asked to fill out some questions about when they received the form as well as the reason for the divorce. This process enables your spouse to contest the divorce if they object to it.
The Court will send the completed acknowledgment of service to you and you must complete the application for the Decree Nisi, and a statement in support. The Court will issue a certificate of entitlement indicating that you are entitled to the divorce and setting a date for the Decree Nisi. You are still married after the decree-nisi – it is simply confirmation that the court accepts that a divorce should take place.
Six weeks and one day after the date of the decree nisi, you can apply to make the divorce final and obtain the decree absolute. This is the legal document which officially terminates the marriage. It is usual to delay applying for the decree absolute until the terms of the financial settlement have been resolved.
Dissolution of a civil partnership
The procedure for applying for dissolution of a civil partnership is almost identical, apart from some of the terms are different, for example instead of divorce, you apply for a dissolution, and instead of a decree nisi you apply for a conditional order, and instead of a decree absolute you apply for a final order. Unlike in divorce, adultery cannot be relied upon as reason to dissolve a civil partnership.
At Aston Knight solicitors we are aware that there are people who are subjected to domestic violence in their homes on an all-too regular basis. Domestic abuse can take the form of emotional, psychological or physical. It can be verbal abuse, harassment, domination and control as well as physical and sexual violence.
We also recognise those people who have been subject to allegations of domestic violence and we are able to assist in providing expert legal advice.
Whatever your situation, our experienced and dedicated team are able to assist.
We assist victims of domestic abuse in quickly obtaining the protection from their partners or ex-partners.
If you have been a victim of domestic abuse you may be entitled to apply to the court to prevent any further violent incidents
Our experienced family law team are committed to handling matters sensitively and can advise you on:
- What steps should be taken before court proceedings are started
- Action that can be taken by the police
- Urgent with or without notice court applications
- An application to the court for a non-molestation order to prohibit the other party from using or threatening violence, approaching the victim within a certain perimeter of the victim’s home or communicating with the victim.
- An application to the court for an occupation order to exclude the perpetrator from returning to the family home or prohibit the perpetrator from returning to a shared property in the event the parties have already separated, and harassment and/or abuse is continuing post separation.
- Enforcement of court orders
Our team of experienced solicitors will work with you to ensure you feel safe enough to make an application for an Order of the court. We offer appointments on an emergency basis. If you have been the subject of domestic violence or the subject of allegations of domestic violence and have concerns, please contact one of our specialist lawyers to discuss your options on 0800 999 6661.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility in family law is a legal status derived from the Children Act 1989. It is defined in s3(1) Children Act 1989 as being:
“all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
The term ‘Parental Responsibility’ attempts to focus on the parent’s duties towards their child rather than the parent’s rights over their child. If you have parental responsibility for a child or children your most important roles are to:
- Provide a home for the child
- Protect and maintain the child
- Support the child financially
If you have parental responsibility for a child you don’t live with, you don’t necessarily have a right to contact with them; but the other parent still needs to keep you updated about their well-being and progress.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
- Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility and will not lose it if divorced.
- Married fathers automatically have Parental Responsibility and will not lose it if divorced.
- Unmarried fathers do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.
- Step-fathers and Step-mothers do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.
- Grandparents do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.
How can unmarried fathers obtain Parental Responsibility?
An unmarried father can obtain Parental Responsibility by:
- marrying the mother of the child;
- jointly registering the child’s birth with the mother (for births after 1 December 2003) you will automatically gain parental responsibility. It is the date of registration, not the date of birth which is important in determining whether the father has parental responsibility.
- Re-registering the birth for pre December 2003 registrations, to add the father’s details, you will automatically gain
- parental responsibility.
- entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother;
- obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court;
- having obtained a Residence Order prior to 22/4/2014;
- being named as the resident parent under a Child Arrangements Order;
- becoming the child’s guardian on the mother’s death.
How can I apply for Parental Responsibility?
You will need to be connected to the child/children in some way. This could be as a father, grandparent, step-parent or second male or female parent in a same sex relationship.
The easiest way if you are the father wanting to get Parental Responsibility and the mother agrees, is to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement. Our team of Family Law Solicitors can help you to complete the application form and get it signed off and witnessed at the Family Court.
If an agreement cannot be reached, we suggest you contact us for initial legal advice so we can help you apply to the Court to obtain Parental Responsibility.
Can I lose Parental Responsibility?
If you automatically have Parental Responsibility for a child or children, this cannot be taken away from you unless your child is adopted. However, if you got Parental Responsibility because of a Court Order, your Parental Responsibility will end when the Order is discharged by the Court.
If you have any concerns or issues concerning Parental Responsibility, please contact our specialist team of family law solicitors on 0800 666 9991 for further help and guidance.