how we can help
Helping you decide what happens next. Call 0191 580 6044.
A Family Law Firm dedicated to helping you decide what happens next.
You may feel that you have no choice about or control over the situation that you find yourself in. It is our aim to help you understand that you do have choices, what those choices are and that you can, with our help and support, make decisions about how to resolve matters with your partner and rebuild your life.
This is a process by which you appoint us to be your voice in the discussions and settlement negotiations with your former partner or their solicitor. Many people prefer this option as it means they are not directly involved in the negotiations which makes the experience less confrontational as a result. If you are finding it difficult to come to terms with the end of your relationship then asking us to speak for you may be a good way for you to proceed.
We will listen to you and put your interests first whilst ensuring that you stay in control of the process. We will need to know from you what your concerns are, what you are struggling with and what your priorities are with regard to finances and the arrangements for any children.
Depending on your particular circumstances, you may feel that you want to “take him/her to the cleaners” and make him/her pay for what they have done. Our 33 years of experience has shown that, going to court rarely, if ever, makes clients feel better about how the end of their relationship came about. It is often the case that neither party is satisfied the orders that are imposed on them by the court.
Wherever possible, it is far better for couples to reach agreement regarding the sharing of their assets, it is less costly and considerably less stressful. Discussions which might lead to an agreement can only take place if both parties are willing to cooperate and exchange financial information so that you can obtain legal advice. If this is not possible, going to court may be the best process for you to decide the issues between you and your partner. The decision about whether to go to Court will depend on what you want to achieve and your individual circumstances.
Issuing Court proceedings does not have to be an aggressive act but can provide a structured Court timetable in order to progress matters particularly if one party is reluctant or refusing to engage in discussions about financial matters or arrangements for children.
What if you and your partner could sit round a table, with your own solicitors, who will work together with you, to make the best arrangements possible for you and your family as your relationship comes to an end? The good news is that you and your partner can do this, it is called the Collaborative Law Process. It is also known as the Collaborative approach or Collaborative Family Law.
The Collaborative approach is one in which you and your partner each have your own Collaborative lawyers who work as a team, not as opponents, with you both in a series of round table meetings to sort things out whether that is financial arrangements or plans for your children. You and your partner commit to resolving matters without going to Court.
This “no court commitment” offers you both the prospect of agreeing a long-term solution for you and your family in a constructive, respectful and dignified way which can preserve your relationship for the future particularly if you have children together.
Why would you choose the Collaborative approach? Quite simply because it has the following benefits:
- You and your partner can set the agenda and make sure that everyone knows what matters to you in the negotiations. Nothing is hidden from you or your partner, it is an open and transparent process
- You can both talk about the things that are important to you and you will both be listened to.
- You are able to build a rapport with and establish trust in your partner’s lawyer.
- You can ask questions and seek clarification there and then in the meeting
- You can move at your own pace through the process.
- There is no need for lengthy, aggressive or costly correspondence between lawyers.
- There is much less room for misunderstandings and any misunderstandings that do arise can be dealt with immediately.
Family Mediation gives you and your partner a safe place to work through, with a mediator, a range of practical issues arising from the end of your relationship. These could include housing needs for all the family, sharing property, financial arrangements, maintenance, pensions and debt, as well as the arrangements for any children.
Working with a mediator provides both of you with the opportunity to work together talking things through openly, frankly and in a non-confrontational way. Working together like this can reduce conflict and tension as well as working out a fair and constructive solution for your family.
Mediation can also improve communication between you and your partner resulting in a more co-operative relationship between you as you both move forward with the rest of your lives.
Each mediation session is led by a Mediator who is completely impartial and whose key aim is to help you both reach acceptable solutions for your family. Mediators do not make judgments and are trained to listen to both points of view. Mediators cannot give legal advice to either of you to ensure impartiality but can provide information in relation to the law to help you make informed decisions. The mediator will encourage you to seek legal advice from your own family lawyer during the course of the mediation process.
Mediation is confidential and voluntary and can only take place if both parties agree and are prepared to compromise and work together.
If you and your partner are on reasonably good terms and feel able to discuss matters between yourselves, then reaching your own agreement about finances and the arrangements for any children, can be the least expensive and easiest way to sort things out following separation/divorce. This option is not suitable for everyone and you may benefit from having an initial discussion/meeting with us to give you some initial legal advice and ideas about what you need to consider before you start and during the course of your discussions.
Even if you have been able to reach agreement in principal it is important to take legal advice to make sure that the agreement can be put into effect, that you understand the legal implications of it and to discuss how to ensure that the agreement you make is legally binding e.g. signing a separation agreement or entering into a consent order which is approved by the court.
What's on your mind
Whenever a client comes to see us for the first time they often have lots of questions, for example:
If you and your former partner are able to reach agreement regarding finances and the arrangements for any children then you do not have to go to court. At Colette Stroud Family Law we consider going to court a last resort and will do all that we can do help you reach agreement with your former partner. Even if you are in a position where you have to start court proceedings it does not necessarily mean that there will be a contested hearing and agreement cannot be reached.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. Neither you nor your former partner have to use mediation. If however you want to apply to the court for an order you must meet with a Mediator for a MIAM (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting) so that the Mediator can explore with you whether it might be possible for you to resolve matters using mediation.
The starting point for the sharing of your assets is indeed an equal sharing. However, the Court must take into account a list of factors that are detailed in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
A clean break divorce is when you and your former partner enter into an agreement that neither of you will make any further financial claims against each other in the future or in the event of your death.
You have a legal obligation to pay maintenance for your children until they are 18 years old. These payments are usually made to the parent with whom the child lives. If the child goes to university then any financial support is usually paid directly to them. If you agree or are ordered to pay maintenance to your former spouse the length of time that you pay it will depend on the particular circumstances of your case.
The best way to protect assets that you bring to your marriage is by entering into to Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
Any pension provision that both you and your spouse have, will be taken into account when working how your assets are to be shared. The value of a pension fund is not viewed in the same way as equity in a property or cash in the bank. The court can make Pension Sharing Orders if it is appropriate to do so. Pensions are more relevant in longer marriages when one party may have little or no pension provision.
Pre marriage cohabitation is relevant and can be taken into account when considering how your assets should be shared.
It is very unusual for a person’s behaviour or adultery to be taken into account when working out how assets should be shared. A person’s behaviour might be taken into account when considering the arrangements for children depending on the particular circumstances of the case. The children’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. Just because a person behaved badly towards their partner does not necessarily mean that the time they spend with their children will be limited.
It may be that you have other questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with us. We are happy to have an initial chat with you on the telephone to discuss your particular situation, your concerns and to answer your questions to enable you to decide what, if anything, happens next.