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Free Advice Clinic
Garner Canning now run a weekly Free Advice Clinic*, where one of our family lawyers will give you 30 minutes of 'no-obligation' advice on the options available to you and general legal advice regarding your circumstances in relation to a relationship breakdown or a dispute regarding the arrangements for a child.
Call 01827 713543 for more information or email Emma Rymell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*By advance appointment only. Please note that the time, date and location of the free advice clinic are fixed, the appointment is limited to a maximum of 30 minutes and any advice given will not be confirmed in writing.
We understand that clients prefer to know in advance how much their fees will be. Uncertainty can be a real cause of concern. We always provide clients with an estimate of our fees from the outset depending on their own particular circumstances. In many cases, we are able to confirm a fixed fee for a service which can often be paid by regular monthly instalments.
First Appointment — £75.00 plus VAT
If you are experiencing relationship difficulties or have separated from your spouse or partner, or you are unable to agree the arrangements for you or a former partner to spend time with your children, you should seek legal advice as quickly as possible. Call us to arrange a no-obligation appointment with one of our family law specialists. At the fixed fee appointment we will take specific information regarding your circumstances, including where relevant, details of your income, assets and debts, to help us identify the various issues and advise you about your legal position and options available to you to resolve problems as quickly and as cost effectively as possible. The appointment takes about one hour and at no extra cost, we will write to you afterwards to confirm our advice, details of likely costs and we will send you our relevant Information Pack.
Divorce/Dissolution of a Civil Partnership — £500.00 plus VAT and Court Fees
For an undefended divorce/dissolution, we offer a fixed fee to deal with the entire legal procedure to dissolve your marriage or civil partnership. This fee does not include dealing with any issues concerning children or finances, but we can give you advice on these separately.
Our fees £500.00
Court fees* £550.00
Total . £1,150.00
*Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be entitled to an exemption or reduction in respect of the Court fees. This is subject to the Court assessing your means and you will need to provide the documentary evidence that the Court requires. The court fee is also subject to change.
We accept payments by monthly instalments towards our fees (six monthly payments of £100.00).
Financial Orders of the Court — From £400.00 plus VAT
If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement about financial issues, we can convert this into a binding Order of the Court for a fixed fee to be agreed, depending on the assets and complexity of the agreement. We include all routine correspondence with your spouse and the Court concerning the Order, but in cases where the agreement is complex or aspects of it require further negotiation or information, additional charges may apply and we will provide a quotation. The fee will depend on the complexity of the agreement and the assets involved.
Our fees (from) £400.00
Court fees* £50.00
Agreements — From £400.00 plus VAT
We are able to prepare Cohabitation Agreements, Separation Agreements and Pre-Nuptial Agreements at a fixed fee, to be agreed once the full circumstances and complexity of the Agreement are clear.
Advice in Mediation
We encourage our clients to consider mediating any issues with their spouse or former partner before resorting to Court proceedings. If separating parties are able to resolve issues by agreement, better outcomes are achieved for families and at less cost, in terms of time, money and emotional stress. We can make a referral for you to a specialist family mediator and during the mediation process we can provide you with legal advice on the issues discussed and the legal consequences of any proposed agreements before legally binding agreements are prepared.
For advice on the outcome of Mediation, concerning finances and children, our fixed fee is £300.00 plus VAT.*
For advice on the outcome of Mediation dealing with finance and property, our fixed fee is £250.00 plus VAT.*
*This fee includes reading through all of the mediation paperwork in advance and providing advice at a meeting for approximately one hour.
Representing you in Court proceedings — from £400.00 plus VAT
If you are involved in Court Proceedings , we can attend at Court to represent you at a fixed fee, from £400.00 plus VAT, depending on the location and nature of the hearing. Fees will vary depending on the exact circumstances of your case and the work involved, however we will discuss your requirements and we will be very happy to provide you with a quotation.
Help during Court proceedings
If your budget will not stretch to employing us to represent you at Court hearings, we will be very happy to help you with preparing documents for use in your case and advice on the Court procedures and requirements at an agreed fee. You will be in charge of your case at the Court, but we can be working with you in the background.
Please contact us to discuss any of these fixed fee services.
Divorce/Dissolution of Civil Partnership
Reference to divorce below will also include dissolution of a civil partnership.
In most cases, divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings cannot begin until you have been married for at least one year.
The person who starts the process is known as the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent.
It is always best for you and your spouse to deal with the divorce as amicably as possible. You will be advised not to name a third person when there are allegations of adultery and allegations of unreasonable behaviour should be limited to approximately 5 examples, lengthy and inflammatory particulars of behaviour can lead to increased animosity and more difficulty when trying to resolve disputes concerning finances and the children.
The ground for your divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage evidenced either by your spouse’s admitted adultery, or their unreasonable behaviour. If you have been separated for 2 years then, provided your spouse consents, the divorce will be evidenced by the fact of your separation, if they don’t consent then you must be separated for 5 years.
From the details you provide, we will complete a divorce petition on your behalf and forward it to you for approval. Once approved, your lawyer will send your petition to your spouse and then to the Court to be issued, together with your Marriage Certificate and Court fee.
The Court sends a copy of your petition to your spouse, who must then acknowledge receipt and say whether they wish to contest the divorce. Most divorce petitions are uncontested.
We will prepare a statement of evidence in support of your petition and you will be asked to sign it. We send this to the Court with your application for the first part of your divorce decree (called Decree Nisi in divorce or Conditional Order in dissolution proceedings).
If the Court is satisfied that there are grounds for the divorce, a date will be fixed for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. Six weeks after that date, you can apply for the final decree (called Decree Absolute in divorce and Final Order in dissolution proceedings) which will then dissolve your marriage or civil partnership, but if there are any financial matters that are still to be agreed with your spouse, you may be advised to delay this application.
Children and Parental Responsibility
Legally, you and your spouse or partner usually share Parental Responsibility for your children, so this makes you equally responsible for making every effort to agree on matters concerning them. These range from which of you will look after the children day to day, the arrangements for the other parent to spend time with the children, financial provision, education, religious upbringing and so on.
If you cannot reach agreement, our lawyers can give you advice as to the appropriate steps to be taken. Whilst we can apply to the Court for a decision to be made regarding the arrangements for the children and represent you throughout the Court process, there are alternative means of resolving disputes concerning children that should always be considered first. We can correspond in writing with your former partner to propose arrangements in the hope that a written agreement can be reached, or we can refer you to Family Mediation.
Property and finances
Most couples will own property or other assets acquired either before or during their marriage or relationship.
Our lawyers can give you specialist advice regarding the division of these assets upon separation and realistic expectations, given the overall circumstances of your case. To enable us to give you clear advice we will ask that you and your former partner or spouse provide relevant disclosure of your financial positions which will depend on whether you are married or in a cohabiting relationship. This can include details of income, savings, pensions, property and debts.
When couples agree on how these assets are to be divided, it is strongly advised that the agreement regarding property and financial arrangements is recorded in writing. If Divorce proceedings are underway then the agreement can be recorded in a Financial Order, which is sent to the Court for approval after the pronouncement of Decree Nisi of Divorce. If there are no Divorce proceedings or the parties are not married, a written Agreement can be prepared for signature by both parties.
Such Agreements or Orders provide clarity and certainty for you and your spouse or former partner and ensure that, so far as possible, all arrangements are complete and binding on each of you and prevent future financial claims being made.
With the assistance and advice of your lawyer, you are strongly advised to seek an agreement with your spouse or partner regarding the division of money and property. In the event that you cannot reach an agreement then during the course of Divorce proceedings, an application can be made to the Court, when a Judge will decide on the most fair and reasonable way to divide your property and finances depending on the particular circumstances of your case, taking into consideration a number of factors including the needs and resources of both parties and any dependent children, income and earning capacity, the length of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, any health issues or disabilities and contributions made. It is very rare and unlikely that the conduct or behaviour of either you or your partner would affect a Judge’s decision over the division of the finances.
Court procedures can be expensive and time consuming and so it is always worthwhile considering the alternatives to Court, such as Mediation or reaching a fair compromise, guided by your lawyer.
Read our guide to Mythbusting Commonlaw Marriage HERE
Protection from domestic abuse
Domestic abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial abuse. The abuse takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and can form a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. Any person may be a victim of domestic abuse or violence regardless of their sex, ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.
Domestic abuse not only affects adults but also, when there are children in the household, they often witness the abuse that is occurring or the children may also be directly abused themselves. Children who live in a household where there is domestic abuse are very likely to be emotionally and psychologically damaged by their experiences and the Court regards this as extremely serious.
Nobody should live in fear of domestic abuse and action can be taken either through the criminal justice system where the perpetrator of the violence can be brought to justice and punished where found guilty, the police can also put restrictions in place to protect you from the abuser. Alternatively, with the help of a family lawyer, civil legal action can be taken to protect you and any relevant children from abuse in the future, by applying to the Court for a Non-Molestation Order to protect you from further harm and/or an Occupation Order to exclude the abuser from the family home and prevent them from returning for a fixed period of time, even in circumstances where they are the sole owner of the property.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse then please contact us for further advice.
Women’s Aid Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Victim Support National Helpline – 0808 1689 111
Victim Support Male Helpline – 0800 328 3623
Alternatives to Court - FAQ
I want an amicable settlement. Are there alternatives to going to Court?
Yes, Court Proceedings should only be considered if other attempts to resolve your dispute have been unsuccessful or you are advised that other options are not suitable due to your particular circumstances. You can attempt to resolve matters in any of the following ways:
You can try and discuss issues with your former partner or spouse directly. If you feel that this is something you want to try, we would always strongly advise that you consult with a family lawyer who can offer you professional advice and guidance to help you along the way, especially to consider whether a Court Order is needed to ensure your agreement is legally binding and where appropriate, achieves a financial clean break, ensuring neither of you can make future financial claims against one another.
Negotiations through lawyers
In many cases, matters can be resolved through lawyers, usually by corresponding and without going to Court. If you require our advice in relation to an appropriate financial settlement, we will ask that both you and your spouse provide a full schedule of financial disclosure detailing income, assets and debts. At Garner Canning, we encourage lateral thinking during negotiations by keeping the focus on the solutions rather than past problems in order to achieve a fair outcome.
Mediation is recognised as being a more cost-effective route to achieving settlement of a dispute. Mediation is a process in which a professionally trained and neutral third person assists separating or divorcing couples to reach their own agreed and informed decisions in a safe, secure and confidential environment. The mediator does not take sides and does not offer legal advice, but is there to identify those issues you cannot agree on and to help you try to reach agreement. A referral can be made to a suitable mediator and our lawyers can advise you through the process. If an agreement is reached through mediation, your family lawyer can then prepare a financial Order or agreement to ensure that you and your former partner or spouse are legally bound by the agreement reached.