Divorce, Separation & Family Law Solicitors In Southend-on-Sea, Essex
We understand how stressful family, relationship and matrimonial matters can be. Whatever your family circumstances are, we offer a sympathetic ear and sound, uncomplicated legal advice.
OUR SPECIALIST AREAS
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements:
These agreements set out how the couple wish to deal with their financial matters during their marriage and in the event of a marriage breakdown and upon death. Recent case law states that provided certain criteria are met before entering into these agreements, the intention is that they shall be binding. These are known as qualified nuptial agreements.
Divorce proceedings can be commenced after one year of marriage. You have to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by supporting that statement with one of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two year separation with consent, five year separation without consent or desertion.
If a civil partnership breaks down then you will need to file a dissolution petition. The petition works in a similar way to a divorce petition except adultery cannot be cited as a reason for the breakdown. Sexual unfaithfulness will need to be included in an unreasonable behaviour petition.The Civil Partnership legislation provides for the court to make similar orders in relation to financial claims as can be made upon divorce.
These are usually drafted where the parties are separated but where no divorce proceedings have begun. They are usually used where the parties are going to start divorce proceedings based on a period of a two year or five year separation. They enable the parties to put finances on a formal footing. However, they are not conclusive and can in some circumstances be re-visited once a divorce has begun.
Financial disputes / financial settlements:
The matrimonial and civil partnership legislation enables the court to make a number of orders in relation to finances such as property adjustment orders, pension orders and orders for income and capital. This does not mean every divorcing couple or the parties of a civil partnership have to go to court. If the parties can agree a financial settlement then this can be drafted into a consent order and sent to the court for approval without the parties needing to attend. If finances become contested and an agreement cannot be reached then mediation will need to be considered first. If this fails or is inappropriate then it may be necessary for one or other of the parties to commence financial proceedings.
When two unmarried people live together there is very little legislation setting out the rights of the parties to make a claim against assets or income. It generally boils down to who owns what. There is no statutory right for one party to claim maintenance payments against the other for themselves for example. In relation to property then the law has to determine who has an interest. If the property is registered in the sole name of one of the parties, for example it may have been their property in the first place. The law will have to determine whether the other party has acquired a beneficial interest under a trust. In other words, have they acquired an interest by virtue of certain contributions such as payments towards the mortgage or substantial improvements to the home? To avoid these uncertainties, the parties may wish to enter into a co-habitation agreement before they commence living together. That way both of them know where they stand financially if the relationship does break down.