Support when you need it…

Facing the breakdown of a relationship is an emotional and often confusing time, and seeking legal advice can seem like a daunting prospect. 

Thankfully, our specialist team, who deal with all aspects of family law, are on hand to offer unbiased, understanding legal advice and support.

Whatever family-related issue you are facing, from divorce to sorting out the financial aspects of a separation, making arrangements for the children or creating a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, our dedicated in-house team of family lawyers can help.

A family law firm that takes care of your family

Sadly, relationships do break down and in such instances the welfare of any children is paramount.

When it comes to dealing with child care matters, we understand that emotions may be running high. Our experienced team of solicitors are able to anticipate this and, utilising their experience in a wide range of family law matters, are able to offer practical solutions to any child care issues.

When it comes to child care matters, communication is key. This is why we adopt a conciliatory approach to encourage both parties to find a resolution they can agree to that works in the best interests of their child.

For child care cases where the Local Authority are involved, we have a specialist Child Care Department.

A family law firm that cares

The team are on hand to support clients through what can be a difficult time, explaining everything in our characteristic jargon-free, plain speaking way. In fact, we put client communication at the heart of everything we do, keeping clients informed in a way that is best for them whether that is face to face, via email or over the phone.

What’s more, because of our transparent practices, you will be informed of the costs throughout the case with no hidden surprises at the end. Whilst Legal Aid is limited, as an approved supplier of legal services we hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency, enabling publicly funded work to be carried out subject to the circumstances and financial position of the client. 

A family law firm for you

Family law is an expansive area which is why we offer a wide range of family law services and as such the team deal with matters including:

  • Drafting of divorce proceedings, judicial separation and dissolution of civil partnerships
  • Advising on all children issues including obtaining ‘Live with Orders’ (previously known as residence) and ‘Spend Time with Orders’ (previously known as contact) as well as obtaining ‘Specific Issue Orders’ and ‘Prohibited Steps Orders’
  • Advising on child abduction issues under The Hague Convention
  • Drafting pre-nuptial and post-nuptial contracts
  • Drafting of separation deeds
  • Advising cohabitees on aspects of their separation including proceedings under TOLATA
  • Advising on a full range of financial aspects following marital breakdown, including child maintenance, spousal maintenance, pension sharing/offsetting, attachment orders and the division of capital assets including complex business structures/offshore trusts. We are able to liaise with other professionals both in-house and externally, such as accountants and IFAs
  • Obtaining injunctions including non-molestation (personal protection) injunctions, ‘Occupation Orders’ (regulating who can live in a property) and ‘Freezing Orders’ (freezing/setting aside Injunctions relating to financial assets)
  • Representing and advocating for clients in the courts at all levels
A family law firm with experience

The team’s extensive experience and in-depth procedures relate to all family and relationship issues. As a specialist family law firm, the team provide clients with the very best advice, guiding them through what is often one of the most stressful periods of their lives. 

A family law service you can rely on

Whether you have been separated for a while, are married or are cohabiting, have children to consider or complex finances to untangle, through our expertise in a wide range of family law matters, we can help.

Registered in England, we offer specialist family law services throughout the country. In addition, many members of our team have been recognised by The Law Society and Resolution as being experts in their field. In addition, we've also been recognised by the Legal 500, which describes us as:

One of the leading firms in the Midlands', Smith Partnership handles financial issues arising from relationship breakdowns. The healthcare sector involving care homes or dental or medical practices is a particular area of expertise, thanks to ‘very experienced’ and ‘highly regarded’ practice head Ruth Jones. ‘Extremely compelling advocate’ and head of childcare Muctar Johal ‘is highly respected in the field of child protection’.

Legal 500

Contact our team today

To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via info@smithpartnership.co.uk or complete our contact form.

FAQs

The matrimonial home/family home is often referred to as the home in which the parties and their family lived. Where people are married it is often referred to as the matrimonial home, where they have been in a cohabiting relationship it is often referred to as the family home. Both parties can have rights over this property irrespective of whose name it is in, irrespective of who has paid the bills. Please note that the rights of a married couple on separation may well be very different to the rights of a cohabiting couple on separation. Again, it is important that legal advice is taken to advise on those rights and that in certain circumstances where the property is in one party’s sole name, that advice is taken to protect the non-owning party’s interest in the property.

Bringing an end to a civil partnership involves slightly different terminology than bringing an end to a marriage. You can apply to dissolve (end) your civil partnership provided you have been in the registered civil partnership for at least one year. The process is fairly similar to divorce in that you send paperwork to the court to ask for permission to end your civil partnership. You do not normally need to attend the court if you are just dealing with the paperwork application for dissolution. The grounds for ending a civil partnership are that the relationship has irretrievably broken down and this is proved in one of four ways:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Desertion
  3. Separation for more than two years with consent
  4. Living apart for more than five years

Spousal maintenance is where one party to a marriage pays maintenance (financial support) to the other. Please note that spousal maintenance is only available to parties to a marriage/civil partnership, the court has no power to order former cohabitees to pay spousal maintenance to the other. Spousal maintenance can be paid for a fixed period of time to enable one party to adjust, to get back into the job market etc., or can be paid long term, possibly on a joint lives basis.

Grandparents do not have any automatic right to see their grandchildren. Sadly, when a relationship breaks down one or both sets of grandparents can be pushed out and lose contact with their grandchildren. The family courts however do recognise the invaluable role that grandparents can play in their grandchildren’s lives, especially at a time when their grandchildren are going through a difficult time in terms of the parental separation. Therefore, if a grandparent makes an application to the family court, they may stand a good chance of success in obtaining a child arrangements order that the grandchildren should spend time with them.

Grandparents do not have an automatic right to make an application for a child arrangements order, they will have to apply for permission (leave) and if they make an application the court will consider, amongst other things, their connection with the child and whether the application is in the child’s best interest.

This will depend on the circumstances of your case. Generally speaking, the court does like to try and achieve a clean break i.e. a dismissal of both parties’ claims including for maintenance when a marriage breaks down, however this is not always possible. If for example one party has put their career on hold and brought up the children/run the home, whilst the other party has been able to develop their career and is now earning a high salary, then the stay at home party may well be entitled to spousal maintenance. Unlike child maintenance, there is no formula, the main test is does one party need any money and if so does the other party have the resources i.e. disposable income to pay. If they do not have the resources, then, even if one party needs the money maintenance may not be paid. The court has a variety of powers open to them including giving maintenance for a fixed period of time, or possible joint lives orders. The court can also give nominal maintenance orders which mean that there is no absolute clean break and the party, normally the parent with care of young children, has the ability to apply to the court in the future for maintenance should their circumstances change.

Often the answer to this is yes. Pensions are normally included as assets in divorce financial settlements, and they are often the biggest asset in terms of value. It is important that you get a good understanding of your pension entitlement and the impact of any divorce settlement upon your pension benefits. There is no automatic principle of division, it may depend on how long you have been together compared to how long you have been in the pension scheme. It may depend on whether or not one of you has been out of the working environment bringing up a family and therefore not able to contribute to their own pension. The way the matrimonial pot, including pensions, is divided between you and your partner would be decided either by agreement between the two of you or by the courts and would be based on factors such as the financial needs of each party as well as the length of the marriage.

There are a variety of ways that pensions can be dealt with, a common way is pension sharing whereby pension funds are divided so that both parties have a separate fund in their respective names. Sometimes there is pension offsetting which can involve one party transferring a proportionally larger share of their liquid assets to one party in return for their pension being left alone. Pensions are a highly complex area of law and frequently advice from actuaries must be taken.

You may want to speak to your solicitor in advance about the information they would like you to bring in, it may be that they have a form they require to you complete. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to have evidence of your identity upon you so your solicitor can verify who you are. You may also want to prepare a short summary, often just one page of A4 is sufficient, giving everyone’s full name, date of births, addresses, contact details and a general paragraph on the background to the situation.

You also need to have made enquiries with a solicitor in advance about how they expect to be paid for their services and to make sure that you have the methods of payment with you.