The separation of a married couple is often a painful experience for both parties. Experience has taught us that it is of crucial importance to make the right choice of lawyer from the outset. Many people will benefit from an early assessment of their rights and obligations arising from separation, sometimes even before separation occurs.
In the majority of cases where a married couple separate an attempt is made in the period between separation and divorce to resolve all child related and financial issues by way of negotiation, collaboration or mediation. The principles which are applied to the process are those which would be applied had a court been required to resolve the issues.
When all such issues have been resolved a contract known as a Minute of Agreement, which encompasses the terms of settlement, is prepared and signed by the parties. This avoids the necessity of the court having to get involved in such issues. Our family law solicitors have very extensive experience of acting in such cases and in preparing Agreements.
If it does not prove possible to reach agreement in the short term, there are some preliminary matters which may have to be dealt with by the courts. These include:
We find that many married couples are able to resolve child related issues following separation without involving the courts. We encourage an open and conciliatory approach to the resolution of child related issues. However sometimes such issues cannot be resolved amicably, in which case it may be necessary to ask the court to intervene. See child related issues for more information.
Issues relating to the matrimonial home and who should be entitled to occupy the property between separation and divorce frequently arise. We are happy to discuss all of the available options including continuing occupation by one spouse; continued occupation of the house by both parties but in a state of separation; early sale of the property; or transfer between one spouse to the other. If necessary, court proceedings can be raised to regulate these issues.
One of the first concerns following separation may be that of ongoing financial support for the client and any children, particularly where a combined income which previously financed one household now needs to finance two. We have extensive knowledge in dealing with the issues surrounding maintenance, including the making of applications to the Child Maintenance Service (formerly Child Support Agency), and to the court where appropriate.