Frequently Asked Questions

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Children

When social services decide to get involved with the family, the parents may be asked to attend what is known as a ‘Meeting Before Action’ or case conference. If this happens, you must get legal representation immediately. You can find an application for legal representation for such meetings here.

Dependent upon the individual circumstances of the situation, this may proceed to an application for a care or supervision order by the local authorities, whereby the council will take parental responsibility for the child. For a more detailed explanation of how this process works and the potential outcomes, please see our website.

If you are a parent of a child and have been asked to attend a Meeting Before Action with social services, you will automatically qualify for legal aid. Equally, if you are the parent of a child or children who are the subjects of care proceedings issued in court, you will automatically qualify for legal aid. If you are a grandparent or family member, you may qualify for legal aid, in which we can discuss your options with you in more detail.

An interim care order is a temporary care order that may give the council power to take a child into care for up to eight weeks. This order can be renewed every four weeks after the initial period. An interim order can only be made if the court is of the view that the child is at risk of serious harm. We have a highly experienced specialist childcare team that can assist you through this process and can provide representation in court through our solicitor advocates. For more information, see our ‘Social Services’ page.

Dependent on the circumstances of your case, social services may decide to bring a court case. This includes applying for an interim care order, where a child may be taken into care on a temporary basis for up to eight weeks. This may only be made if the court is of the view that the child is at risk of harm. By harm, this may mean concerns about neglect, or concerns that the child is being abused.

There are a number of potential outcomes that you may experience at the conclusion of care proceedings. This can range from the child being sent home with the parent if the risk is reduced, to the child living in a children’s home or being fostered/adopted.

Children must be taken into account when proceeding with a divorce, and this may be a relatively emotional element of the proceedings. It is important that you can find practical, workable solutions in disputes over children that often arise. It is better for any disputes about children to be resolved voluntarily, however it may sometimes be necessary for a court to make an order in relation to the dispute at hand. This may range from a child arrangement order, to a prohibited steps order; we can discuss the potential outcomes of your specific situation to ensure you understand your rights in relation to your children.

This is an increasingly prevalent issue in the process of divorce/separation called parental alienation and should be brought to our attention during proceedings if you are concerned this is happening to you. This behaviour can be considered during court proceedings, so will be taken seriously if we are made aware of it.

Finances

A financial settlement is an agreement designed to sort out any financial issues and fairly separate your assets once the marriage is over. It can include money (savings, investments and life insurance policies) to property, such as the family home, or personal items. Our solicitors can give you more information upon consultation.

There is no specific time limit by which the finances must be settled, though if you can come to a conclusion together, this will make proceedings less complicated. However, a delay in making a financial application may affect the amount you are awarded and could complicate the situation. We are committed to ensuring the best outcome for your individual circumstances and work to resolve matters as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

Various factors will be considered when determining how assets and finances are divided and are dependent on the needs of each party. Considerations for a financial settlement are influenced by non-financial contributions too. This may include raising children or taking care of the home. We can clarify information relating to the division of finances, as this can often be a particularly complicated issue that requires a third party.

All children and stepchildren under the age of 18 will be considered as part of a financial settlement. We work to prioritise the wellbeing of children involved whilst considering all other issues raised in the settlement.

No- we represent a range of clients from different backgrounds and financial situations. We aim to provide cost effective advice and representation that is accessible to all, and have much experience representing clients with modest assets.

Separation

This is a very rare occurrence, particularly since the introduction of no-fault divorce systems. We will ensure that we work towards a financial settlement that is fair to both parties and gives priority to the welfare and needs of any children that may be involved. Extreme behaviour may be taken into account, for example, in cases of domestic violence having a lasting effect on one party. Equally, if one party deliberately sabotages the financial position by spending recklessly or destroying assets, for example, this may be taken into account.

The divorce process can be incredibly stressful, confusing and time consuming. Our solicitors can help make the process easier, particularly in cases of contested divorce. Equally, if your divorce involves children or significant amounts of money or assets, you are advised to use a solicitor to negotiate child arrangements or financial settlements. At Brighton and Hove Law, we can offer the advice of experienced solicitors to guide you through each stage of the divorce process.

You must have been married or in a civil partnership for at least a year in order to enter into divorce proceedings. If this requirement has not been met, you may apply to annul the marriage or complete a judicial separation application, a service we can also assist with.

Fees will differ dependent on the specific circumstances of your divorce. We charge an hourly rate and provide you with regular costs updates, plus offer advice regarding minimising costs through an increased personal involvement in the process. All fees will be discussed during your free initial consultation and the subsequent proceedings, so you will never be left in the dark. There may also be court costs applicable to your case.

There is now a no-fault divorce system operating in England and Wales. This means you do not have to provide a reason for divorce, only a statement that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

We do offer services regarding the dissolution of civil partnerships. The divorce proceedings for those entered into a same-sex marriage will remain the same as heterosexual marriages.

If you feel you are experiencing domestic violence, or are in immediate danger or threat, the first step is always contacting 999. In legal proceedings, we are able to assist you in obtaining court orders should you require protection. This may be in the form of non-molestation orders, or occupations orders to remove a perpetrator from your home. In emergency situations, we will work out of hours to ensure such applications are provided for swiftly. We also offer reduced rates for those experiencing domestic abuse.

For more information and guidance on potential legal aid, please visit the domestic abuse section of our website.

To book a no-obligation, confidential, free initial consultation, or find out more information about how we can help you.

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