Family Law Solicitors Southend-On-Sea, Essex

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Family Matters

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.


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.

Civil Partnerships:

If a civil partnership breaks down then you will need to file a dissolution petition. The Civil Partnership legislation provides for the court to make similar orders in relation to financial claims as can be made upon divorce.

Separation agreements:

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.

Co-habitation disputes:

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.

Domestic violence:

Where one party has suffered violence and abuse from the other then the remedies are non-molestation orders to prevent the other party from violent and abusive behaviour including harassing, pestering or intimidating or encouraging a third party to do those things. In some cases the court will order an occupation order either removing the offending party from the home altogether or regulating which rooms that party can occupy in the home.

Child Arrangement Orders (residence and contact):

These are orders the court can make to determine with whom the child/children should live and provisions for the non-resident parent/ person to see the child/children. Child Arrangement Orders are not just limited to parents and in certain circumstances non-parents such as grand parents or step parents can be granted these orders.

Specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders:

Specific issue orders are those made where the parties dispute certain issues about a child’s life such as their schooling or religious orientation and health matters. The parties can make an application to court for the court to decide those issues. Prohibited steps orders prohibit a party from taking certain steps in relation to a child, the most common step being the removal of the child from the country. The court can also prohibit a party from re-locating with a child to a different part of the country in certain circumstances.

What makes our firm different?

Our people have a passion for the law and justice. We have a desire to make your legal journey as smooth and stress free as possible. It is important to us that we ensure that you understand all of your options and that you are kept up to date with the progress of your case.

Hannah Sparrow Solicitors Southend On Sea - Regulated

6 Nelson Mews, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1AL

This firm is Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No: 520649)