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Oslers divorce and family lawyers are experienced professionals working for you, your family and your finances. We are approachable, cost effective and efficient. When all the decisions seem difficult, we can help.

Expertise:

  • Divorce & separation.
  • Financial settlements.
  • Child arrangements.
  • Parental responsibility.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Separation agreements.

Divorce & separation

Oslers divorce lawyers are here to advise when you are seeking to make a change to your family situation. We understand that splitting up is an emotional time and we aim to make the whole process as straightforward as possible.  

There are many things to think about such as what will happen to your home, how you will survive financially and most importantly what will happen with the children.  

Our lawyers are empathetic and sensible and will do what they can to minimise conflict and achieve a constructive and agreed outcome.  In this way you can look ahead to a life after divorce.

A divorce can only be obtained after one year of marriage and if you can show that the relationship has reached “irretrievable breakdown”. One of the following facts needs to be established to prove this:

  • Adultery
  • Your partner has behaved unreasonably
  • Your partner deserted you at least two years ago
  • You’ve lived apart for at least two years (with the consent of the other party)
  • You’ve lived apart for at least five years (no consent required)

How Oslers Divorce & Family Solicitors can help

Whether you are seeking a divorce, a separation or the dissolution of a civil partnership we invite you to get in touch with us.  The divorce is it’s own legal process and can be achieved as a stand alone objective.  We reflect this in our pricing structure and offer fixed fees so that this part of the process is transparent and predictable.

  • Fixed fee divorce (When acting for petitioner) £500 + VAT. Plus court fee £550.00
  • Fixed fee divorce (when acting for respondent) £300 + VAT. Plus court fee if D11 is required.

Resolving the family finances on divorce is both linked to the divorce process but requires it’s own expertise.  Learn more about how our lawyers can help you to settle the financial responsibilities after the final order in divorce.

Resolving what should happen with the children, where they should live and when and where you should spend time with them may require consideration of separate proceedings. Learn more about what Child Arrangements might be required.

Oslers Solicitors has the Lexcel quality mark, and are accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and are members of Resolution. Call Oslers Divorce and Family lawyers on 01223 792331, email us, or send an enquiry via our contact form.

Divorce & separation Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get divorced?

An uncontested divorce typically takes between four to six months (provided papers are processed promptly by the divorce unit and both parties involved). However, if contested or an agreement cannot be reached, this can take much longer, 12 months and more.

Who starts the divorce and how?

The divorce process starts when one person sends the divorce petition (form D8) to the divorce unit. This person is called the petitioner and is the party who is seeking the divorce. It is on this form that the reason for divorce is set out.

The next stage involves the divorce unit sending a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse who is now called the respondent. With the petition is the acknowledgement of service form which your spouse completes and returns within 7 days.

If your spouse agrees with the divorce petition, the court will grant a decree nisi, this confirms there is no reason to prevent the two of you from divorcing.

The final step is to apply for the Decree absolute. The petitioner has to wait six weeks and 1 day after the decree nisi pronouncement and can then apply for the decree absolute.

An application for the decree absolute typically takes 2 weeks, which will then formally and legally end your marriage.

In between the decrees nisi and absolute you will consider whether there are any issues preventing the finalisation of your divorce for example relating to finances or children. 

Are there court fees to be paid in divorce?

The government sets court fees and they are currently £550 for England & Wales, paid when the petition is sent to the court.

You may not have to pay the fee, if you are on a low-income or receive certain benefits such as;

  • Job Seeker’s allowance
  • Employment and Support allowance
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit

 

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid for Divorce depends upon you having proof of domestic abuse or child abuse. Read the eligibility criteria or call for advice.

Thereafter you must be financially eligible. Check your financial eligibility

Financial settlements

Finances on Divorce or Dissolution of a Civil Partnership

Mostly people agree how to share out their money, assets and property when they spit up and it is reassuring to know that very few couples actually end up in a final hearing in a court with a judge deciding the outcome for them. While a divorce can be finalised without a financial settlement, having one protects you from future claims.

Our role is to guide you towards an agreement that covers the three main issues on divorce:

  • If you have children, who they are going to live with and where (see Child Arrangements section)
    • together with their maintenance such as school fees and other lifestyle considerations.
  • Where you will each live.
    • Property rights.
  • What you will live on.
    • Savings & Shares.
    • Pensions.
    • International assets as well as liabilities for debt.

Once the settlement has been agreed, a court must approve an order to make the arrangement legally binding. There are various orders issued by the court in divorce proceedings. Some of these are:

  • Consent Order- This order sets out how your assets and debts are to be divided.
  • Clean Break Order- applies for couples who do not have any assets to divide
  • Pension Sharing order- establishes how each person’s pensions are to be shared.

We can point you towards mediation, arbitration or Early Neutral Evaluation (a method to resolve disputes without the parties engaging in full-scale litigation or arbitration) all with the aim of avoiding the need for expensive and unnecessary litigation.

Broadly speaking clients tend to fall into three categories:

  1. Those that have already discussed with their spouse how best to achieve an agreement or have had a successful outcome from mediation and simply require a consent order to be prepared and submitted for approval.
    • This client group tends to spend the least on lawyers’ fees and feels the most satisfied by the outcome.
  2. Those that genuinely don’t know where to start in trying to work out what their entitlement or responsibility might be.
    • Our role here is to encourage an open and frank disclosure process so that we can learn each party’s financial position and support our client in a negotiation with their ex.
  3. Those that want to fight about it all or feel entitled to the lion’s share.
    • Without doubt this group spends the most on lawyer’s fees and will be the least satisfied with the outcome, whatever it is.

At Oslers we believe more is achieved when a conciliatory approach is taken and confrontation is avoided. Firm when required but always friendly, is how we would describe our approach.

Why Choose Oslers Divorce and Family Lawyers?

We understand how daunting a task it is to create two households out of one. Having a successful financial settlement ensures stability and security after divorce, especially where children are involved. We are sensible lawyers looking to offer practical and pragmatic advice with an outcome that is tailored to your needs. Furthermore, we pride ourselves in offering a cost-effective service that is seriously competitive when measured against other firms in the Cambridge area. Finally, we have long standing professional relationships with pensions experts, forensic accountants and experienced specialist barristers should a contested court hearing be the only way of resolving an entrenched position.

Call us on 01223 792331, email us or send an enquiry via our contact form.

Useful link

Financial settlements Frequently Asked Questions

How much money will I receive in a financial settlement?
  • There are no rules that state how the assets should be divided. The courts consider wide ranging factors which include, but are not limited to:
    • You and your ex partners assets, earning capacity, income and property resources.
    • Your ages.
    • Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
    • Whether you have children and what they might need.
    • The length of your marriage.
How long does it take to reach a financial settlement?
  • How long is a piece of string!
  • It clearly will be different as everyone’s personal circumstances are different.
  • Whether you can reach an agreement or whether you require a court to adjudicate.
  • We’d hope to be able to give you an idea at our first consultation.
Do I need a solicitor for financial settlements?

Even if you and your ex-partner have been able to reach an agreement regarding financial settlements, it is recommended that you engage the services of a solicitor and draw up a consent order - This will prevent either party from changing their minds and making future claims against each other.

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid for Divorce depends upon you having proof of domestic abuse or child abuse. Read the eligibility criteria or call for advice.

Thereafter you must be financially eligible. Check your financial eligibility

Child Arrangements

If you divorce or separate, your main concern will be the wellbeing of your children. We keep that as our focus and work with you to support what is in their best interests.

The experienced professionals in Oslers’ Family Law department are ready to help you make the right arrangements for your children following the breakdown of your relationship, whether that is by negotiating on your behalf, putting you in touch with mediation services, or by making an application to the court or an arbitrator.

If you and your ex can reach an arrangement without the need to attend court, then usually the matter can be resolved more quickly, more cheaply and in a more satisfactory way since the focus is on the best interests of children and not the battle itself.

A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) is now the umbrella term for what used to be called Residence & Contact Orders. These orders can decide who a child will live with and how often they will see the other parent where the parents themselves have been unable to reach a suitable agreement. The court can also be used if there is some other aspect on which two parents can’t agree, for example where the child should go to school, whether one parent can take the child overseas to live, whether the child should be raised in a religious home or receive certain medical treatments. The court reaches its decisions by reference to the welfare checklist and will only make an order where it is absolutely necessary to do so. You should also expect that the court will involve a Family Court Advisor, also known as a CAFCASS Officer, to provide safeguarding information and more in-depth reports if ordered to do so by the judge. These reports can be influential in that the CAFCASS officer can make recommendations to the court and will include an older child’s wishes and feelings.

We can help and advise in relation to completing the C100 application form, whether there should be additional information given to the court about alleged domestic abuse, and most importantly help by representing you at the hearings that follow. In this way our experienced advocates can help the court understand your position and advise you as to how to best achieve the outcome that is most suitable for your child.

Useful links

The Welfare Checklist Criteria

The welfare checklist is found in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41/section/1

  1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);

    The court takes the wishes and feelings of the child into consideration, however not all children are of an age where they can be listened to. Whilst it is not defined in law at which age the court will begin to listen to the child, in practice more weight is placed on a child’s wishes and feelings from the age of 11 or 12 onwards. However, it does depend on the individual circumstances of the child in question with consideration given to their maturity.

    Normally, CAFCASS’s role is to speak to the child and ascertain their wishes and feelings, or consider what might be in a child’s best interests if the child is too young to express their wishes and feelings. In rare circumstances the Judge may speak to the child themselves. It is important for the court to be satisfied that the child is not simply repeating the views of a parent. It is important to be aware that the wishes and feelings of the child are viewed together with other factors and will not wholly dictate the outcome.

  2. his physical, emotional and educational needs;

    The court are required to consider the child’s short term and long-term physical, emotional and educational needs and which parent is best placed to provide these to the child. This will usually be based on evidence that has been submitted to the court in the form of a statement or evidence given orally by a witness.Physical needs tend to be straightforward whereas emotional needs may require more investigation and may vary as the child gets older. The court must be satisfied that the parents can manage these changes and provide stability for the child at the same time.

  3. the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;

    The court will often take a decision that will cause the least disruption to a child’s life.An example of this may be where the non-resident parent applies for the child to move their home to live with them. The court will need to consider the potential impact that the change in residence would cause, for example changing schools, friendship groups, or connections to grandparents.

  4. his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;

    The court are required to consider the child’s age, cultural and religious background and other characteristics which are specific to the child and the wider family.

  5. any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;

    Harm is defined as “ill treatment or the impairment of health or development”. The court will look in to any harm that the child has suffered already and what the risk of future harm might be. Any order will reflect if harm has been identified and could contain protective measures to safeguard the child. The court will thoroughly explore any alleged domestic abuse and the impact it may have had or may continue to have on the child and how the child can be protected in the future.

  6. how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;

    Putting the child’s needs first and being able to meet all the child’s needs must be considered. This might be about accommodation, or supporting special educational needs. What a child needs is case specific, depending as it does on the specific needs of the child and the abilities of the parent.

  7. the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

    The court will consider every option and can make a wide range of orders, even if they have not been applied for.For example, an application by one parent to stop a child being moved out of the country might result in a court changing the child’s usual place of residence.

Child Arrangements Frequently Asked Questions

Is Legal Aid available for Child Arrangement Orders?

Legal aid is available for private law disputes in respect of child arrangements, provided that you have “gateway evidence” as per regulations 33 and 34 of LASPO evidencing domestic abuse or child protection concerns. Evidence Requirements

If you have Gateway Evidence, then you need to satisfy the means and merits test for legal aid. Check your eligibility

How does the court decide Child Arrangements?

The Court’s paramount concern is the child/ren of the family’s welfare and in considering whether to make a Child Arrangements order, there will be consideration of “the welfare checklist”.

  • The primary consideration is to the welfare of any children;
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • The ability of the child’s parents or guardians to meet the child’s needs
  • The effects on the child of any changes in circumstances as a result of the order.
  • Any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering;
  • The capability of the child’s parents (or other relevant people) in meeting the child’s needs

Separation Agreements

You might not be ready to go through the formal process of divorce and that does not mean that you are left to fend for yourself. We can advise on the preparation of a separation agreement which amounts to a formal and enforceable agreement between the parties to a marriage which provides a framework for their family until they are ready to pursue a more formal end to the marriage.

Separation agreements fix the financial arrangements while living apart and while not limited to, can include the following:

  • Houses and property: Which of you will live in the family home or if it should be sold.
  • Childcare arrangements: Where your children will live and what parental access and financial arrangements will be made.
  • Mortgage and bill payments: What proportion of these will you both pay.
  • Savings and investments: How these will be managed and divided if necessary.

Managing Relationships

There are other methods for managing relationships that include pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements and cohabitation (live with) agreements and at Oslers we can offer the full range of advice and support when considering what requires clarity for you and your partner.

Separation Agreements Frequently Asked Questions

Why would you get a legal separation instead of a divorce?

Having an agreement in place can give you both the time and financial stability to think before taking such an important decision to end your marriage. It enables a separating couple to set down some practical solutions reach a consensus early on and can lead to a more amicable divorce.

Furthermore, not every couple wants to petition for divorce citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery as their grounds for divorce. However separation is a reason for a divorce and having a separation agreement enables those necessary years to pass with security and sensible planning.

Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility is defined as “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”.

While the mother automatically has parental responsibility, the father will only automatically have parental responsibility if he and the mother are married at the time or he is named as the father on the birth certificate.

If you are the father of a child but you are not married to the mother and are not named on the birth certificate but you want to be involved in the important decisions that will be made in relation to your child, then contact us to see what is required by way of

  • Preparing Parental Responsibility agreements
  • Applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility agreement.
  • Applying for a Prohibited Steps Order where one party seeks to exercise parental rights against the wishes of the other parent. This could become appropriate when a parent decides to leave the country permanently without the others consent.
  • Applying for a Specific Issue order. This includes instances where an agreement cannot be reached on decisions such as how or where a child should be educated, or which religion a child should follow.

It may be that one parent wishes to dispute paternity and this too is an area in which we can help and advice whether by putting you in contact with DNA testing services, or by applying to the court for a Declaration of Parentage.

Oslers Partners

  • Mary E. Cleaver LLB (Hons)
  • Claire R. Lockwood LLB (Hons)
  • James S. Yardy LLM