Family & Divorce

For a more detailed discussion of your requirements, free of charge and without any obligation, please contact

Richard Todd on 01623 460444 or by e-mail rtodd@alcocks-solicitors.co.uk

Family & Divorce

Our Family and Matrimonial team has extensive experience of advising on family and relationship issues. We will listen to your concerns, discuss the options available to you and provide you with support throughout.

Our expert advice will help you to reach a fair and swift solution. Most disagreements are settled by negotiation before proceedings come to court. If agreement is not reached and matters proceed in court we will discuss your objectives and how they can be achieved and we will offer clear and frank advice on the options available to you.

We have expertise in the following areas:

  • Divorce and Separation
  • Financial settlements
  • Children matters
  • Property and financial disputes for unmarried couples
  • Pre and post-nuptial agreements
  • Cohabitation agreements
  • Civil Partnership separation
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Deeds and Declarations

Free Consultation

We offer an initial half hour consultation free of charge. This gives us the opportunity to find out which services are appropriate to your circumstances and for you to be assured that you can put your trust in us to sensitively handle your family’s legal matter.

We will explain the legal process, the decisions that will need to be made and set out the charges for our services.

We are committed to providing the best possible legal advice at affordable prices. Unfortunately legal aid is no longer available for most family cases. If however legal aid is available, we will be able to refer you to a legal aid lawyer.
If you would like to talk to someone about your personal situation, please contact Richard Todd on 01623 460444 or by e-mail rtodd@alcocks-solicitors.co.uk.

Initial Separation

At Alcocks we know that every divorce or separation is different. You will be treated as an individual with individual needs. We can offer practical and cost effective expert advice. Issues that need to be resolved may include making arrangements for children, sorting out finances and deciding where each party is going to live. We will advise on your rights in these areas and any other matters which cause concern.

If you are thinking of separating, or have separated from your partner, it is important that you receive legal advice at the earliest opportunity. It is preferable that you should seek legal advice before moving out or agreeing to any division of assets.

Divorce and Money

Please refer to our Financial Disputes page for additional information.

When it comes to dealing with money and divorce, it is important to know what has to be taken into account and the powers available to arrive at fair decisions.

For most couples, the basic problem is how to finance two separate households from income and assets which previously provided for only one.

The first consideration of the courts is the welfare of any children, although in most cases they have little power to order maintenance for children because that function is now performed by the Child Support Agency.

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the factors to be considered by the courts in deciding questions about money.

The courts will consider:

the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources available and the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities, which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

the standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to the breakdown of the marriage;

the age and health of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

the contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family;

the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, a party will lose the chance of acquiring.

Essentially, the courts, or the solicitors or mediators negotiating in anticipation of obtaining a court order, will apply these factors to the family assets which are available to be split between a divorcing couple. It is a process of listing all sources of finance to achieve a fair and reasonable division.

The court has virtually unlimited powers to transfer and divide assets between spouses and usually does this by using the following types of order, for one or other of the spouses, or for the child(ren), together known as ancillary relief:

  • an order for maintenance pending suit;
  • a periodical payments order;
  • a secured provision order;
  • a lump sum order;
  • a property adjustment order; and
  • for a spouse only, a pension sharing/attachment order.

The main concern of the court where there are children is to minimise the impact of the marriage break-up on them. In exercising its powers, the court has an obligation to consider whether to make an arrangement which will bring about a ‘clean break’ between the parties as soon as is reasonably possible. In most cases this does occur.

The thing that surprises most clients is that the courts will not take conduct into account except in the most extreme circumstances and if it would be unjust to ignore it. The courts are mainly concerned with practical money matters.

The best way to achieve a fair settlement is to ensure that all the necessary financial information (such as pension and house valuations, investments held and earnings) is collected at an early stage.

Relationship Agreements

With an increasing number of people choosing to live together either in preference or prior to getting married, Cohabitation and Pre/Post-Nuptial Agreements are becoming more popular.

Co-habitation Agreements

Co-habituating couples should consider how their position is affected by co-habitation, and what the implications would be if the relationship fails. All too often, the first time that a co-habitee considers seeking legal advice is when the relationship has broken down and there is a disagreement over the distribution of assets. If issues had been addressed in a Co-habitation Agreement at the start of the relationship when the parties were amicable, it would potentially save months of heartache, litigation and money.

Pre/Post Nuptial Agreements

Where one party to a marriage is considerably wealthier than the other, Pre-Nuptial Agreements can be put in place prior to a marriage and Post-Nuptial Agreements drawn up after marriage.

Although Pre/Post-Nuptial agreements are not currently binding under English law, they remain one of the factors to which the court should have regard in assessing the financial entitlement of each party on divorce. In recent years, the courts have moved towards paying their terms greater heed, provided of course that the agreement has been fairly drafted and fulfils certain criteria.

Separation Agreements

The breakdown of a relationship is not always acrimonious. Some couples realise that their relationship has broken down and believe that all matters should be dealt with in an amicable manner. They seek to formalise their arrangements for the division of their assets and other arrangements for children in a formal document, namely a Separation Agreement. These agreements can also be used for separating couples who do not wish to enter into divorce proceedings immediately, but still wish to formalise their arrangements. Again, these agreements are not strictly enforceable by a Court, but can be persuasive. These agreements can be used evidentially should there be a dispute as to the division of the assets at a later date, this can save months of litigation and legal fees.

Deeds and Declarations

Change of Name Deed

We are happy to advise you with respect to changing your name, which can usually be done very quickly and cost effectively. The rules in relation to Change of Name Deeds for children are different and such deeds can only be done in certain circumstances. The Change of Name Deeds prepared by us are acceptable by Passport authorities, DVLA, and banks as proof of a change of name.

Statutory Declarations

We are happy to advise and prepare Statutory Declarations on your behalf. Declarations can be required in numerous situations, mostly commonly required if a person is getting married abroad. The Statutory Declaration can be prepared very quickly and cost effectively. The Statutory Declaration will need to be witnessed by another solicitor. These arrangements can be made on your behalf. Once the Statutory Declaration is signed and witnessed it becomes a legal document upon which third parties are able to rely.

Domestic Abuse

Victims of domestic violence and abuse fortunately have a great deal of legal protection. We have considerable experience in making applications to the Courts in circumstances where domestic violence and abuse has taken place. The courts have the power to exclude a violent or abuse partner (or other family member) from a home and to punish them if harassment continues.