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Family Law

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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors, we are expert family lawyers based in Guildford Surrey and have many years and extensive experience, in dealing with situations which have become stressful, emotional and difficult to handle for all parties concerned. We can help with all aspects of family law where potentially life changing decisions need to be made, regarding not just your own, but your children’s futures too. In such cases seeking legal advice at the earliest possibility can have a huge impact on your case, as you will understand your rights and responsibilities prior to making any legally binding decisions.

As experienced family lawyers Guildford we can make sure you have the best legal advice to enable you to make the decisions that are important for your families’ long term futures and not make any decisions that may not be suitable for you further down the road. We will help you see the larger picture with your long term future factored into any decisions you need to make in the short term. We will provide you with straightforward, clear and easy to understand advice, pertaining to your own individual circumstances.

What areas can we help you with? We deal with all areas of family law, these include:
Divorce and separation
Domestic violence
Pre-nuptial agreements
Mental Health issues
Alcoholism and other addictions.
Child relocation/Leave to remove
Finances, including pensions, shared assets etc.
Child issues, including changing a child’s name, payments of child maintenance etc.

How long does it take to divorce?
On average, if neither party is contesting the divorce, it will take anything from 4 to 12 months approximately, with 6 months being the average. However if one party is contesting the divorce and is uncooperative it can take longer. We often find it is better to finalise the financial side of the divorce first, before applying for your divorce to be made final.

How long do we have to have been married for before applying to divorce?
In England and Wales you will need to have been married for at least a period of one year. You will need to have a marriage that is approved in UK law, this includes same sex marriages. You will also need to have a permanent home in the UK.

What are ‘grounds’ for divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce under English law – and that is the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. You will need to show the court that the marriage has broken down for one of the following reasons:
Adultery, this is where one of the party’s has admitted, or you have sufficient evidence to prove, they have had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex and you can no longer live with them as a result. The law currently only accepts adultery for opposite sex liaisons. You cannot use adultery as a reason if you have lived together for more than 6 months since finding out about the encounter.
Unreasonable behaviour, here you must show that your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot realistically be expected to stay with them. This can be anything from excessive drinking or financial overspending, to simply not being around in the relationship or providing for your needs.  Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly used reason for grounds for divorce.
Desertion, if your partner has left you for a period of 2 years in the preceding 2.5 years either without your agreement, without a good reason or to end your relationship. You can still claim desertion even if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months during the 2.5 years.
Separated for more than 2 years. If you have been separated for more than 2 years and you both agree to the divorce then you can use this reason. You can have been living in the same house during this time, but not as a couple i.e. you sleep in different rooms and eat separately.
Separated for at least 5 years. You can apply for this reason if you have been separated for more than 5 years, even if your partner disagrees with the divorce.
As experienced family lawyers Guildford Surrey, we can help you with all aspects of family law and are here to answer any questions you may have.  Our testimonials speak for themselves.

Is it still classed as adultery if we have separated?
In short, yes. If you have separated, but are not divorced and start a physical relationship with another person then it can still be classed as adultery as you are technically legally married. It can still be used as grounds for divorce, but will not usually impact on your financial settlement.

Do I have parental responsibility for my children?
Mothers will automatically have parental responsibility for their children from birth. A Father will have parental responsibility if he was married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, or is listed on the birth certificate (from 2003). If you have jointly adopted a child then you will both have parental responsibility. Both parents retain parental responsibility if they divorce. You can apply for parental responsibility if you do not automatically have it.

What rights do I have if my ‘Common law’ relationship breaks down?
A lot of people who have been living together for a long time and in some cases have children together too, feel they have the same rights in law as a married couple if they separate. This is not true. There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife and no legal status for couples who live together – also called co-habiting. If you are cohabitees and separate then you will have no legal claim over any property or assets solely in the other person’s name. Any joint assets will usually be split 50/50. You cannot claim against the other party for financial support, unlike if you were married. However you can claim for dependent children, but that is all.  So if one of you holds all the financial cards i.e. good job, good pay, house in their name only and you don’t work and have limited assets, then you could find yourself at a distinct disadvantage in the event of a split. You can help to protect yourself from this outcome by setting up a ‘cohabitation contract’ in advance. This will provide you with legally enforceable agreements on certain things, whilst also laying down the rights and responsibilities within the relationship. As experienced family lawyers Guildford, we can help you with all aspects of family law and are here to answer any questions you may have.

Grandparent’s rights – do I have any?
Unfortunately currently in English and Welsh law there is no automatic right for Grandparents to be able to see, or have contact, with their grandchildren. If contact has broken down and we cannot negotiate a way forward for you all, then we will help you to make an application for permission to make an application to see your grandchildren, under a court order. The family courts are very clued up on the role that grandparents can play in a child’s life and will look at the relationship between you all, current visitation arrangements etc. and will usually grant you access. Obviously if there is evidence of violence or abuse then this will be different.

As experienced family lawyers Guildford, we deal with all areas of family law and are best placed to help you with any questions you may have. Call us today on 01483 826470 and let us help you to make the best future you can for you and your family.

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