FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions, answered by our highly experienced family law solicitors….

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a process of resolving conflict with an ex-partner in relation to matters concerning your property and finances or your children or both. An independent family mediator facilitates discussions regarding these issues with you and your ex-partner and works with you to achieve a mutually agreeable outcome. Visit our Family Mediation Section.

What is collaborative law?

A process where you and your ex partner instruct two separate solicitors both of whom are specially trained Collaborative practitioners. The four of you sign an agreement “ a participation agreement” wherein you confirm that you will strive to resolve issues amicably and outside a formal litigation process. Discussions then take place during a number four way meetings and together you and your lawyers work out the details as to a financial settlement/child care arrangements and what practical steps are needed to formalise your separation.

What is private law arbitration?

It is a process whereby you and your ex partner agree to contract out of the Court process and instead you appoint a specially trained barrister or solicitor to act as the “judge” in your case. The process is a binding process and is a bit like a private form of Court. Private law arbitration can be used to determine financial settlements and what the appropriate arrangements should be for the care of any children of the family.

How do I get divorced?

The first step is to complete a divorce petition which is a standard court document. Visit our Divorce Section to download our step-by-step guide to divorce.

How long does it take to get a divorce and do I have to go to Court?

The divorce process can be done on paper i.e without you having to go to Court unless the proceedings are defended or there is a significant issue as to costs. It is important to get specialist advice as there may be associated financial claims and matters relating to the care of your children which you need to resolve. The divorce process itself, whilst it changes your legal status, does not determine how the finances associated with the breakdown of your marriage should be determined or where your children will live.

How do I get access to my children?

If you are having difficulties with your ex-partner in connection with access to your children, we can assist you through a number of methods including family mediation or formal court proceedings.

Can I get custody of my child?

Custody is no longer a legal definition but parents can apply to court for a child arrangements order which determines where a child lives and/spends time with each parent.

What is shared care/shared parenting?

Shared care or shared parenting does not necessarily mean that a child spends equal time with each parent but rather it is a principle that both parents take an active role in a child’s daily life. The presumption in English law is that children should spend significant amounts of time with each parent providing that it is safe for them to do so.

Do I have parental responsibility?

A biological mother automatically has parental responsibility for a child as does a married father. If a father is on a child’s birth certificate and that child was born after 1st December 2003 he also has parental responsibility for that child. A person can gain parental responsibility through a parental responsibility agreement or a Court order. If an order is made that a child lives with a person then that person has parental responsibility by default for the duration of that order. A father who is not married to the mother and is not on the child’s birth certificate can apply specifically to the Court for a parental responsibility order.

What does a parental responsibility order mean?

At its’ most basic having parental responsibility means that a parent can consent to medical treatment for a child and be involved in major decisions in a child’s life such as where they to school etc and further enables them to access information from official bodies such as schools and/or medical records.

How do I apply for residence or contact of my child?

The terms contact and residence are no longer used to describe how a child is cared for. Instead if a parent wants a child to live with them or spend more time with the child they can apply to court for what’s known as a child arrangement order. The Court can make orders where children live and how much time they spend with the other party. The law is very clear that unless there are any serious safety or welfare concerns that parents or other parties seeking orders in relation to child should try to resolve issues in the first instance through the family mediation prior to making an formal court application .

Can I stop my ex-partner moving away with our children?

Issues such as where children go to school and where in the country children should live or indeed should children be allowed to move to a different jurisdiction can be determined by a specialist application under the Children Act 1989 if such issues cannot be agreed. You should absolutely take specialist advice if any such issues concern you. Contact a member of our family team in Leeds or Harrogate for an initial consultation if you have any queries.

What are my financial rights on divorce?

Starting divorce proceedings opens up a number of financial claims that are available to you including claims for property, income and pensions. To understand what you may be entitled to it is important for you and your ex-partner to fully disclose your financial situations. This can be done through solicitors or within the mediation process. You can then look at options for how your respective assets and income are to be split upon divorce.

The parent of my child isn’t paying child maintenance. What can I do?

It is always beneficial if parents can reach a voluntary arrangement in relation to how much maintenance should be paid for the benefit of a child. However if an agreement cannot be reached either parent can apply to the child maintenance service, formerly Child Support Agency (CSA) to assess child maintenance. The CMS website has more information.

What is a clean break divorce?

A “clean break” is where a divorcing couple’s financial claims against one and other are dismissed. A clean break can be achieved by consent of both parties or by order of the court.

What is child inclusive mediation?

Formally direct child consultation, child inclusive mediation enables a child’s voice to be heard as part of the family mediation process by giving them the opportunity to speak to a specialised mediation child consultant about their family’s situation.

Is a pre-nuptial agreement legally binding?

Whilst pre-nuptial agreements are not 100% legally binding, as long as they have been entered into with various safeguards in place and are considered fair, the court will give the agreement consideration when making any financial orders on divorce.

What is a post nuptial agreement?

This is the same as a pre-nuptial agreement but entered into after the couple is married rather than before.

What is a marriage contract?

This is another term for a pre or post nuptial agreement.

Do I have to get divorced to sort out our finances?

No, you can enter into a separation agreement with your ex-partner formalising the agreement you have reached regarding your property and finances without getting divorced. Such a document however is not 100% legally binding per se, it is a contract between the two of you and it is important that you obtain specialist legal advice prior to entering into such an agreement, in order to safeguard the agreement from being varied at a later point in time.

What is a parenting plan?

This is a document which records any principles of co-parenting and agreed arrangements for your children. A copy of the parenting plan recommended by the court can be found on the Cafcass website www.cafcass.gov.uk.

The process of family mediation may be of assistance in working out the details of such a plan if you struggle to do direct with your ex- partner.

Is it expensive to instruct a solicitor?

Solicitors have varying fees depending upon which course of action you wish to pursue and it is always wise to discuss these options first before committing and instructing a firm. At Consilia, we can provide you with practical tips and advice, that don’t have to cost you a lot, just perhaps your time in undertaking some of the work yourself. We can also offer fixed fee services to suit your budget and the nature of your case.

Is there such thing as a common law wife?

This term has been banded around for years and many people think that when they are in a relationship and living with their partner, despite not being married, they are a common law wife. However, this is a myth.  There is no such thing as a common law wife or common law husband. The law surrounding cohabiting couples is complex and depends entirely upon the ownership of assets, land and property and whether you can demonstrate an interest in ownership. It is widely recongnised that the law in this area needs to change at some point in the near future. If you are in doubt about your position as a cohabitee, you should seek advice urgently as there are steps you can whilst cohabitating with someone, take to obtain an interest in property or assets that may not be registered in your name.

For more information or for a FREE no obligation telephone call contact us on 0113 322 9222 or by email at enquires@consilialegal.co.uk.

Contact Laura

What Our Clients Say About Our Family Law Services

Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

Jen Huggett

Absolutely five star service from Laura Clapton and her team, always kept informed of progress, and Laura was always available on the end of the phone to answer any questions. Highly recommended, thank you Consilia Legal.

Jane C

Professional and personal. Vicky was very caring and listened to my issue, advice was clear and easy to understand. Vicky ensured my mind was at ease and I knew my options. Excellent service. Sarah really knows the family sector, she puts you at ease instantly and ensures you are aware of all the options. Would definitely recommend this service. Thank you for your help.

Catherine White

Vicky guided me through the legal context of an employment and was very efficent, approachable and supportive. I would highly recommend this company and Vicky to others who need legal support and advice. Many thanks.

Maureen Sheridan

Had a great experience working with Victoria. Felt completely comfortable asking all kinds of questions and she always explained them really well.

Julia Mariani

I often get clients asking if I can assist with employment and family matters. As this is not my area of specialism I am conscious to help assist by passing them onto a trusted source who will look after the client in the best manner possible and with the same approach and ethos as myself. For employment and family matters I recommend to Consilia Legal as they contact the client promptly and provide practical no nonsense advice at a great value. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and will continue to direct my clients to them for this type of legal advice.

John Bailes

What our clients say about Consilia Legal on

  • review rating 5  Received a really good service from Marie and the team including Emma, who offered valuable support throughout. I contacted Consilia following a recommendation from a union representative. Was given great advise through her trusted associate who offered an accurate and professional assessment. Marie secured a really good outcome due to her knowledge, perseverance, conscientiousness and genuine desire to try and get the best outcome on my behalf. A lot of genuine empathy and respect expressed and a brilliant negotiator. Very well informed, experienced and brilliant communicator. True to her word re costs as discussion was upfront and honest. Very reasonable rate compared to other firms. Would recommend to others Thank you very much!

    thumb Elaben Mistry Jackson
    5/26/2019
  • review rating 5  Great service from Andy and the team. Handled my case very professionally and I was given excellent advice. Very informative and always responded promptly. Would highly recommend.

    thumb Adam Orange
    12/04/2018
  • review rating 5  Excellent personal support, advice and understanding from Marie, Emma and the Team, thanks for all you have done. Highly recommended

    thumb Ian Reed
    5/30/2019
  • review rating 5  Very quick and reassuring response from Andy and the team here after a very difficult situation at work. Referred from Citizen Advice Bureau because all other firms seemed less bothered about my needs versus their fees. Andy gave great advice and helped explore my options so I could respond appropriately without being cornered by my work. Ended up with a very amicable outcome! In difficult times you need people like Consilia to help guide and support you... thanks guys

    thumb Mirra Riz
    12/03/2018
  • review rating 5  Excellent service from Laura Clapton guiding me through a difficult divorce process. Super efficient, professional and carries out the work with understanding and compassion for your situation. Would highly recommend and have already recommended.

    thumb Jo Allan
    4/09/2019
  • review rating 5  I recently needed legal help with a settlement agreement post a redundancy. I have never had the need to use a solicitor's services before. Going by the great reviews on Consilia I decided to give their services a go. I had the pleasure to be attended by Emma Cartlidge and she made the experience simple and easy. The offer was reviewed and amended with precision and I needn't worry about anything. I would recommend Consilia to anyone nervous about using legal services and in need of employment law advice.

    thumb mszkamio .
    9/11/2019
  • review rating 5  I had a great service from Laura and her team at Consilia Legal and would certainly recommend them to others. The service was very friendly and informative keeping me up to date in a timely manner and been on hand to offer advice when needed. Thankyou.

    thumb Matthew Bell
    3/05/2019

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