We are well recognised, local and a reputable Family Law & Divorce Solicitor firm located close to Stockport. We have handled thousands of cases and have given 100% unique and tailored advice to every one of our clients. We are personable, professional and have a team that will always be in your corner.
JMR Solicitors LLP was recognised by the Prime Minister, David Cameron himself, as the number 1 female led fastest growing business in the UK in 2015. This wasn’t done by accident, it comes our unique approach and belief that our clients are our most valuable assets; and we operate an open culture and a team based approach that reflects this.
JMR Solicitors are capable of handling cases involving all aspects of UK Family Law. We work with empathy and efficiently to bring your case to a swift and, if possible, amicable settlement. The JMR team has an ethos for achieving excellent results for our clients in an honest, reliable and friendly way. The team believes in resolution of matters in a constructive and non-confrontational way and with a principal of keeping costs to a minimum.
What do I have to do to get a divorce?
To prove that you have grounds for a divorce, you will have to demonstrate to the court how your marriage has broken down irretrievably. In other words, you must show that one or both of you feel that you cannot continue to be married to one another. If you have been married for at least one year, either partner can apply to have the marriage dissolved. This application is called the Divorce Petition and the partner who sends the Petition is called the Petitioner. The other partner is called the Respondent.
During the process of the application, the Petitioner will have to prove one of the following grounds for divorce:
Adultery is one of the most common grounds for divorce in the UK. It is defined for this purpose as your partner having sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex to them. Same sex partners cannot use adultery as grounds for divorce in the UK due to the definition of adultery for this purpose. If you have lived with your partner for 6 months or more after you found out about the adultery, you cannot use it as grounds for divorce unless the adultery is continuing.
Unreasonable behaviour means that your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This can mean any number of behaviours such as physical, verbal, emotional or financial abuse; drunkenness or drug taking. The petition will ask for the main reason, the first instance, the most serious instance and the most recent instance.As with adultery, if you have continued to live with your partner for 6 months or more after the first instance you cannot use it as grounds for divorce unless the behaviour has continued.
Desertion for this purpose means that one partner has left the other without their agreement and with no acceptable reason for doing so. To be used for grounds for divorce, the period of desertion must be 2 years or longer.
Two years’ separation
If you have been separated from your partner for 2 years or more and they agree to a divorce. This is sometimes called a ‘no-fault’ divorce and does not require any proof of wrongdoing by either partner. For this to apply, you can have periods of living together as long as those periods do not add up to six months or longer and there has been a period of at least 2 years living separately.
Five years’ separation
If you have been separated from your partner for 5 years or longer. This differs from the two years’ separation in that your partner does not have to agree to this and cannot defend this petition. They can however ask that the court not grant the final decree due to a major hardship, eg. Major financial difficulties.
How long will it take?
The length of a divorce will vary depending on the court and the details and complexity of each individual case. Cases can run for a considerable amount of time and cause a lot of stress if you are not practiced in dealing with complex family issues. It is often best to have an experienced family solicitor assist in divorces where you foresee any kind of dispute with your partner, complex financial issues or if children are involved and their care arrangements are disputed.
Having an experienced family solicitor will ease the stress and worry of dealing with often complex legal situations yourself, and sometimes emotional and distressing disputes with your partner.
It is usually quicker and cheaper to negotiate a financial agreement out of Court. A family solicitor can help you to do this, and can make sure that it is in an accepted format and uses terminology accepted by the Court for approval. The Court must approve an agreement as a Court Order (Sometimes called a Consent Order).
You can make a settlement at any time before, during or after your divorce however it is advisable to do so before either of you re-marry as this can complicate the process. It may be best to come to an agreement before the divorce is complete, as this way the Court can grant any orders at the same time as they grant the decree nisi. The long term financial history of the marriage and any future prospects should be taken into account when reaching any financial settlement.
What type of arrangements can be made?
Periodical payments for the children (maintenance)
When children are involved in a divorce there is no such thing as a ‘clean break’, even is payments are made voluntarily. If the Court has jurisdiction to make an order, the amount that has to be paid on their behalf is usually described as an annual sum and is paid in either monthly or weekly sums. The sum that is to be paid in respect of each child should be stated in the agreement.
Usually, this maintenance is paid until the child turns seventeen but where a child is disabled or otherwise dependent, special considerations are made.
The Child Support Agency (CSA)
The Child Support Agency has the power to enforce maintenance payments is there are no voluntary arrangements made. Even if there is no contact with the child or the other parent re-marries, there is still a parental responsibility to care for the child financially.
Periodical payments for the spouse (maintenance)
After any maintenance for children (if any are involved) is worked out, the Court will look at any maintenance due to the spouse. It is becoming less common for a life-long maintenance agreement to be made and is usually made only for a fixed term. This type of maintenance will not end when and if the recipient cohabits with another partner. The amount paid can also be changed by a Court Order. As with any child maintenance, the amount that has to be paid on their behalf is usually described as an annual sum and is paid in either monthly or weekly sums.
There are no set guidelines that the Court has to consider when making these types of agreements, and it is often up to the discretion of the judge. The judge will usually take into account the full financial situation of both parties, and assess their individual needs and resources, as well as the needs of any children involved, to make their decision. Any debts or other financial obligations will be considered together with the capital of both parties. Pensions and other assets are also considered. It is the Court’s aim to arrive at a fair and reasonable agreement after considering all of the facts and evaluating the various factors that may come into play in each cases individual circumstances.
Separation agreements can be made for married or unmarried couples who intend to end their relationship but want a document confirming who is to have what when the relationship ends and what each partner is responsible for. Separation agreements can give clarity to the process of ending a relationship and can help to avoid court proceedings for married couples who wish to get a divorce.
A family solicitor can help with the negotiations during a separation and will be able to draft all relevant documents for you.
A separation agreement is not a court order, however the court will take the agreement into account in the event of any dispute. As long as the agreement was made under no duress and both parties gave full disclosure with regards to their finances, the agreement will be upheld.
What is involved in a separation agreement?
If you decide that a separation agreement is the best course of action for you, you will need to disclose the following:
- Accommodation arrangements
- Details of how monies and property will be divided
- Who is responsible for any payments and bills
- Arrangements for any children involved
- Full financial disclosure for both parties in respect of their income, assets and pension
Once in receipt of this information, your separation agreement can be drafted for negotiations and finalisation.
Cohabitation agreements are made when a couple are not married but have chosen to live together. These agreements can offer legal protection, not unlike that of a married couple, with regards to money, property and also issues around children. These agreements are not limited to the time that you live together but can also set up an agreement for what happens if you were to split up.
How is a cohabitation agreement made?
Each partner will need to instruct an independent solicitor, however at JMR Solicitors we always conduct these types of negotiations in a friendly and non-hostile manner. Negotiations can be dealt with either by way of correspondence or by face-to-face meetings with each party and their instructing solicitors in attendance.
What are the benefits?
Having a cohabitation agreement in place will provide clarity and certainty should the relationship break down irretrievably. Unlike with divorce proceedings, any ownership, rights of occupation or other terms set out in the agreement cannot be revised by a court if the relationship ends. This means that the terms need to be agreed by both parties at the outset. The benefit of this is clarity for both parties as to what money, property or ownership will be theirs and the certainty that this cannot change and leave either party dissatisfied.
These agreements can be reviewed if both parties agree, for example if a child is born, to make arrangements more suitable to major lifestyle changes. A cohabitation agreement can be made at any point of cohabitation, as long as both parties agree to it. However, having an agreement in place at the start of a cohabiting relationship can help to avoid any hostility and often long and expensive legal arguments should a separation occur without such an agreement.
At JMR Solicitors, we can help you to apply for any type of injunction and will help you to understand the best course of action for your situation. We will always endeavour to handle your case with discretion and empathy, and will strive to gain the best possible outcome for your situation. The most common situation for the use of injunctions is in domestic abuse cases between partners, either married or unmarried.
In cases of domestic abuse, an application for a non-molestation order can protect a partner and any children involved. Once the court has granted this order, any breach will result in the arrest for the person the order is against. For this purpose, ‘molestation’ is used to mean harassment, pestering or interfering with you or any children involved. It also means any type of assault made against you or your children, including threats and attempted assault even if no harm or injury resulted from these.
These orders can also protect you from any other person who your partner may tell to harass, pester, molest or assault you or any children involved.
These types of orders decide who can and cannot live in the home after there has been any domestic abuse. In the short-term, they can allow you to stay in the home if your partner is trying to force you to leave, or allow you back into a home that your partner has already forced you to leave. They can also prevent your partner from entering the home as a whole, certain areas of the home, and the surrounding areas. Occupation orders can also be used to impose rules about living in a home that you and your partner must abide by.
Power of arrest
Power of arrest can be attached to an injunction to allow the police to arrest your partner if they breach the terms of the injunction against them. To obtain this power, you will need to show that the partner you intend to get an injunction against has been violent towards you or your children, that they have threatened to use violence against you and that they are likely to do so again.
Under UK law, all mothers automatically have parental responsibility of their children from their birth. A father will automatically have parental responsibility if he is married to the mother. In cases where the father is not married to the mother, parental responsibility can be applied for by registering on the child’s birth certificate as the father (from 1 December 2003), getting a parental responsibility order from a court or by coming to a parental responsibility agreement with the mother.
Having parental responsibility means that you are responsible for protecting and maintaining the child and providing the child with a home. You will also be responsible for the discipline of the child, choosing or providing for the education of the child, naming or agreeing to the change of name for the child, looking after their property and agreeing to their medical treatment. As a parent, you have to provide for you child financially, even if you do not have parental responsibility.
JMR Solicitors can help with any type of application or agreement with regards to parental responsibility, and will treat your case with discretion and empathy.