Family Law FAQs

We have answered our most frequently asked questions about family law below. If you don’t find the information you need please feel free to get in touch and one of our Family Law experts will get back to you as soon as we can.

  • You can pay your legal fees on the basis of ‘time taken’, i.e. an hourly rate, or you can ask us for a fixed fee. To help with your budget, we can arrange for fees to be paid by way of monthly instalments. We also offer ‘pay as you go’ and payment at the end of your case if you are financially eligible for a divorce or litigation loan. We will talk you through our full range of payment options.

  • An initial appointment at Emsleys for advice and information about divorce, separation, civil partnership, protecting wealth and assets prior to entering into a relationship, children issues and financial issues is free of charge. We don’t limit the time of the first appointment. We can discuss your options with you at this initial appointment. We confirm our charges and advice in writing and ask you to sign and agree to this before we undertake any work. You can pay us in monthly instalments and our charges can often be on a fixed fee basis, or if you would prefer, a time taken basis.

  • A divorce typically involves three written applications being submitted to the Court. Generally speaking, you will not be required to attend Court for any hearing in connection with a divorce or any allegations that you make. If the person seeking a divorce asks a Judge for a Court Order, asking the person responding to the divorce to pay the legal costs, and this is disputed, you may be asked to attend Court.

    The legal process of divorce ends your contract of marriage. The divorce process does not resolve all issues relating to property, money and children upon separation – whilst connected, these issues involve separate legal procedures.

    If you want to divorce, it is unlikely you will need to attend Court. If you have disagreements involving your finances or children and separate legal proceedings have started, then you may have to attend Court hearings to resolve these issues.

    There are three key stages in the divorce process:

    1. Application for divorce: This is called the ‘Petition for Divorce’ and is an application form which must be completed giving factual information and reasons why the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The application is sent to the Court together with your marriage certificate and the Court fee of £410. The Court sends a copy of your application to your husband or wife together with a form for them to complete. If you have a low income you may be exempt from paying the Court fee if a ‘fees exempt form’ is completed along with evidence of income and outgoings.
    2. Application for a Decree Nisi certificate: Once your husband or wife has responded to the Court’s request to complete a form , you can apply for Decree Nisi by completing the relevant forms and sending these to the Court. Decree Nisi is a provisional certificate issued by the Court specifying that a divorce can take place. 
    3. Decree Absolute: Six weeks and a day after Decree Nisi, an application can be sent to the Court requesting the final divorce certificate, Decree Absolute. Once this certificate is issued, you are officially divorced and free to remarry. In some cases it is sensible to delay applying for Decree Absolute – you should obtain legal advice about when to apply for Decree Absolute.

  • The government’s new, user-friendly website allows divorce applications to be submitted online. It is not suitable for complex divorces and if something goes wrong (eg a spelling mistake in a name), it can be a lengthy and frustrating process to resolve. If you are looking to reduce costs associated with a divorce, you can divorce using the government's service and then seek advice from a solicitor about more complex issues such as money and children. Contact our team on 0113 201 4902 or email for a free initial discussion.

  • Arbitration and private dispute resolution may be offered as an alternative to a court hearing in order to resolve financial issues in a divorce. If you take this option, highly skilled members of the legal profession will make decisions in relation to your case.

  • Yes. There is a new online system for applications for financial matters. Once submitted, your case is allocated to a local court to be dealt with by a Judge. If you and your ex-partner have agreed on financial issues, you can also submit an online application for a clean break order.

  • It is always sensible to get some legal advice even if you decide not to use a solicitor.  Most solicitors will offer an initial telephone appointment or meeting free of charge.

  • A divorce usually takes between 4 and 6 months to conclude. However if financial issues are not resolved during this period, you may be advised to finalise financial matters before applying for the 'Final Order' (Decree Absolute).

  • There is no easy answer to this. The Court will consider a checklist of criteria which includes your respective incomes, earning and borrowing capacity, housing needs, number of children and the value of assets. First consideration goes to providing any children of the family with a home.

  • Whilst the business is likely to be a matrimonial asset, it may be the case that you cannot easily sell your business, or shares in it, or if you do you will lose your income. Your wife may be compensated for any interest she has in the business from other assets.

  • You can obtain an emergency Court order to prevent your wife from relocating abroad until the Court makes a final decision about whether or not she can leave with your children. The Court will consider many factors which will include your existing relationship with your children and how this is likely to be affected if they move, as well as practical arrangements that your wife has put in place abroad relating to housing and schooling.

  • Mediation has been established for many years as an alternative process to the Court as an effective way of resolving disputes about children or financial issues. Before an application to the Court is made about a child or financial issue, the Protocol directs that a case should first be assessed by a mediator. This assessment is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You cannot be compelled to mediate. Mediation is a voluntary process and both you and your ex-partner/spouse must agree to mediate.

  • A solicitor will set out your options and your position in law. This knowledge and information can then form the basis either for further discussions with your ex-partner/spouse or mediation or negotiation through solicitors. Most solicitors will offer a free initial appointment without charge and many people make appointments on this basis to find out information before they decide the best way forward.

  • You will meet or speak with one of our solicitors initially for a free appointment. Many of our clients have been specifically recommended to one of our solicitors and if this is the case, you will of course deal with that solicitor. You will have one solicitor deal with your case and we will confirm this in writing to you, with the exception that another solicitor may cover your case in the event of sickness or holiday. The Family Law team work with a paralegal who may work on your case from time to time.

  • You can make contact with us either by way of phone, email, website enquiry or call into one of our offices.

  • The lawyers in our family team have been accredited by recognised legal organisations as being experts in their field. Rosalind Blaza is accredited by the Law Society as having a general expertise in family law. She is also accredited by Resolution, the leading family lawyers’ association which influences Government about policy, as an expert in cases with a financial element including international cases. Our lawyers have many years’ experience in family law.

  • In most family cases, costs orders are not made. This means that you are responsible for payment of our fees.  There are one or two exceptions to this and we will discuss this with you at our initial appointment.

  • A divorce involves a set of three written applications to Court.  There may be more than this if your case is more complicated than first envisaged e.g. problems with your husband/wife acknowledging receipt of the papers or defending the divorce. It is unusual to attend any Court hearing in relation to divorce unless there is a dispute about who should pay the legal costs of the divorce.

  • Mediation is an alternative process to going to Court. This is an effective way of resolving disputes about children or financial issues. Before an application to the Court is made about a child or financial issue, the Family Proceedings Rules directs that a case should first be assessed by a mediator. This assessment is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

  • You will deal with the solicitor who initially took your query or met with you. In some circumstances, e.g. annual leave or sickness, your case may be covered by another solicitor. We also work with a paralegal in the family team who carries out routine administration and research type work at a lower hourly rate than our solicitors as it is more cost effective to manage your case in this way.

  • Court should be viewed as the last resort. Few people attend Court for a divorce. You may have to attend Court in relation to children or financial matters but we will discuss making any application with you before doing so and will only issue proceedings if you instruct us to do so. Mediation should be attempted first in most cases.

  • To personally help with your case depends on what type of case it is. If you have a financial case, it is a good idea to gather together as much financial information as you can before we meet with you e.g. value of property, mortgage outstanding, value of any investments. If you have a children issue, it is helpful if you can provide us with a reasonably accurate chronology in terms of dates that events have happened and arrangements have been put in place.

  • We will set out your options for funding your case in writing when you contact us. We can refer you to litigation loans’ companies, you can pay us monthly by way of instalments, or you can settle our fees in full.

  • If you want us to issue Court proceedings, we will always ask for any Court fees to be paid up-front.

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