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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.

  • 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.

  • If you choose to seek advice from one of our solicitors, we can offer an initial consultation via a video conferencing platform, such as Zoom. At this stage, we will explain the divorce process and the options available to you. We understand speaking to a lawyer may feel daunting, so if you wish, you can invite a friend or family member to your first video appointment – please speak to our team for more details.

  • 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 family.law@emsleys.co.uk for a free initial discussion.

  • Most hearings are being dealt with using conference calls. If your hearing takes place via conference call, you will be asked to provide the court with your phone number. The court will phone you before the time of the hearing and your will be asked to state your name before joining the call with your solicitor/barrister (if applicable). The hearing will begin once the Judge joins the call. If some cases, the Judge may specifically direct that the hearing takes place in a different way eg via video call or in person. Face-to-face hearings are occurring with COVID-19 safety measures in place, whilst video hearings are taking place through CVP (a secure cloud system developed by the court).

  • 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.

  • Divorcing during the pandemic may be more fragmented. The Court service experienced significant delays between March and September 2020, but it is now getting back on track.

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. Gabbie Clasper 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. Laura Mackfall is a Chartered Legal Executive and Judith McAra is an experienced family law solicitor. 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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