Your family is at the centre of your life and you want to make sure that those most important to you are well looked after. When relationships break down, you want to resolve matters as quickly as possible, ensuring that your children and other dependents, are protected and provided for so that you can begin planning for whatever the future holds.
At Morrisons, we recognise the complex emotions that accompany family problems and the need for sympathetic, calm advice in what may feel like a crisis. Our specialist Family Law Team has a reputation for acting with all the sensitivity and discretion that you need – but also with the skills and expertise to ensure that matters are resolved in your best interests as quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
We are experienced in handling every kind of family issue and will help you to understand the legal processes, using clear, non-technical language where appropriate, so that you can evaluate your options and make the right decisions for you and your family.
We strongly believe in the value of open communication, transparency and integrity in family legal matters. We will actively promote constructive negotiation and putting the needs of your family first. That’s why our affiliation with Resolution and our adherence to their code of conduct is important to us. Many of the solicitors in our Family Law Team are accredited specialists, with extensive expertise in negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution.
Alongside our family law experts, you will also benefit from the capabilities of our wider practice, including specialists in property, employment, and medical and care issues, where these are relevant to your circumstances. You will also need access to other professionals, including barristers, financial advisers, actuaries and valuers. We have developed close working relationships with other specialists to ensure you are connected with the experts you need, when you need them.
And, at a time of stress, we will also make sure that our fees are clear and easy to understand, and, where appropriate, are agreed in advance.
I used Morrisons for matrimonial issues. I found them knowledgeable and helpful....and I would recommend them.
Please see below an introduction to some of the family law services our teams provides.
- Divorce, dissolution and separation
When relationships break down, for whatever reason, the combination of emotional stress, anxiety about dependents and finances, and problems in communicating with a partner can make seeing a clear path into the future very challenging. We recommend that you speak to an expert adviser as soon as possible, both to reassure you at a difficult time and to ensure that you avoid making any early mistakes, and take the right steps to reach the best possible outcome.
At Morrisons we can help you to find your way through the process and ensure that the resulting settlement is as close to your wishes as possible. We’ll listen with sensitivity to understand your concerns and provide clear, objective advice about the best way forward, tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Our aim is always to take you beyond the needs of your immediate dispute in a constructive manner, and to focus on long-term goals and wider issues arising from your relationship breakdown.
We have prepared a Guide to Divorce Proceedings that will address many of your initial questions.
For further information, please contact a member of our family team who will be able to help you with the next steps.
- Financial arrangements
For many people, the financial and practical issues associated with relationship breakdown and divorce are more immediate and pressing than the legal process of the divorce itself. But they can also seem overwhelming.
At Morrisons, we provide practical and pragmatic advice to guide you through the process and help you make the complex and strategic decisions necessary to reach a settlement.
We can advise you on the court’s powers and procedures in relation to a wide range of issues relating to financial arrangements in divorce, dissolution and separation cases.
- Children issues
Making arrangements for your children is among the most difficult and potentially most upsetting issues that you will have to deal with following a relationship breakdown.
The issues are familiar but no less challenging for that: who has parental responsibility; children’s name changes; contact with the children; ongoing living arrangements; grandparents’ rights and contact; taking children on holiday or to live abroad; financial arrangements for housing and maintenance; schooling and school fees; special guardianship, and many other issues.
At Morrisons, we understand the complex issues you are facing and we can provide advice and guidance on the best ways to resolve them. We will help you to work out a way forward that suits your family and help you to reach constructive solutions that enable you and your former partner to co-parent effectively for the months and years ahead. We can also refer you to helpful support services including counsellors and therapists should you need them as the process progresses.
We are also skilled and experienced in mediation, which can be a very useful tool in finding the best way to work together to address the individual needs of your children and parenting them together.
We can help you with all issues relating to the continuing care and provision for your children, including:
- Parental responsibility
- Contact, residence and the new Child Arrangements Orders:
- Grandparents’ rights
- Removal from the Jurisdiction and Re-location Applications
- Child maintenance
- Financial claims on behalf of children
- Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements
Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements (PNAs) are increasingly receiving respect and recognition in our courts. PNAs are not final and binding as they stand, in that courts retain overall jurisdiction to consider all the circumstances and to decide what is ‘fair’. However, if they are well drafted and both parties have received full advice, they have been described as the ‘magnetic factor’ by the courts and given priority over the factors listed in s.25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
If you are thinking of marrying, and especially if it is your second marriage, you may want to consider entering into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement with your spouse. Indeed, even if you are already married these documents are useful by way of Post-Nuptial Agreements, to verify arrangements between you and may be seen by courts as an indication of your desire to bound by the terms of your PNA, therefore strengthening its influence on the settlement.
At Morrisons, we have experience of preparing both pre- and post-nuptial agreements and can advise you on the process and the key considerations when preparing such an agreement. We recommend that, whatever your circumstances, you take expert advice before either preparing a PNA, or later relying on one to shape any settlement following a relationship breakdown.
- Cohabitation and unmarried families
The laws relating to post-relationship breakdown settlement of unmarried couples can be much more complex than for married couples and your financial rights can be comparatively restricted. Most importantly, despite the frequency with which the term is used, there is no such thing in this country as ‘common law marriage’ – it simply does not exist and there are no rights to maintenance against one another following breakdown of cohabitation.
It is therefore important to take legal advice on your rights and obligations, as the situation is probably not as straightforward as you might expect and the relevant law can be extremely complex. At Morrisons, we can help you to understand your position, following relationship breakdown, with regards to:
- Property ownership
- Children and maintenance
Mediation is an informal process to assist couples to communicate with each other and to reach informed decisions about their finances, their children or any other matters. It is a voluntary and informal alternative to court proceedings. Meetings take place with one or two trained and neutral mediators who will act as facilitators and will assist you and your partner to try to resolve any dispute that has arisen. Most couples need between three and six mediation sessions to come to a set of proposals. The sessions usually last for one and a half hours.
Mediation can be a very quick and cost-effective way to resolve issues since you pay for the mediation sessions jointly, rather than each paying a solicitor separately to handle their divorce through the court process.
It is never too late to start mediation, even if Court proceedings are already underway. Courts like parties to try Mediation.
The benefits of mediation
- You retain control over decisions affecting your future
- Mediation can occur quickly and at short notice.
- Mediators can suggest practical solutions that a Judge could not suggest or impose.
- Mediation is much cheaper than going to Court.
- Mediation removes much of unpleasantness that can be attached to Court proceedings.
- The success rate for cases settling is very high.
- Experience shows that parties are much happier with a mediated settlement because they have taken part in the process.
A number of our Family Law team are qualified and experienced mediators and can help you to explore and potentially agree a settlement without the cost and potential upset of litigation. We offer a fixed-fee service for each mediation session and can also offer Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) to help you decide whether mediation is the right approach for you to take.
- Collaborative law
Collaborative law, also known as collaborative practice, is a legal process for couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage and who want to work together, with the support of their lawyers, to achieve a settlement without the cost and upset of court proceedings.
Typically, the process requires both parties to sign a ‘Participation Agreement’ – a contract – binding them to the proceedings. Because Collaborative Law is a mutual process, rather than an adversarial one, it can be both faster and cheaper than other approaches, and it avoids much of the pressure and unpleasantness that can emerge through court proceedings – and which can be upsetting for any children involved.
At Morrisons, we are experienced in helping couples to reach settlement through Collaborative Law and can help you with all aspects of the process, and with identifying and working with any other specialist advisers you may want to involve in the proceedings.
- The Aim
- The Ethos
- The Process
- Family Law arbitration
Arbitration is when parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a neutral arbitrator to adjudicate a dispute and make a binding award. It can be as simple or as complex as needed and there is always a result.
At Morrisons, we have qualified Family Law Arbitrators who can help you through all aspects of this process. There are a number of advantages to choosing arbitration with Morrisons over other approaches:
- Choice and Continuity – you can choose your own arbitrator and they will deal with all stages of the process.
- Speed – we will discuss and agree your timetable and you can expect this process to be much faster than going through a court.
- Confidentiality – arbitration is confidential throughout whereas this is very hard to achieve through a court process.
- Costs – we will give you a good understanding of costs upfront and will keep them at a fixed rate where possible.
- Flexibility – together we can define your procedure according to the needs of your specific case.
- Independent – as your arbitrator, we will maintain strict independence, acting for neither one side nor the other
- Binding – you will agree to be bound by arbitrator’s decision and agree to convert it to a court order should this be needed.
- Court support – Judges like arbitration and there are court rules in place to support the process.
Guide to Divorce, Dissolution and Separation
Click here to download our Guide
Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements
Click here to download our Fact Sheet
Child arrangements and finances for children
Click here to download our Guide