Read the latest articles on Family Law from our expert Family Law solicitors here at Evolve Family Law in Manchester & Cheshire.

We put a lot of family law legal information on our website and if you have a single question about your situation, you should find an answer in this blog.

If you need a greater level of help, please contact us and one of our team will call you to make an appointment.

selective focus of couple sitting at table with divorce documents

Should I Sign a Separation Agreement?

As North West divorce and family finance solicitors, we are often asked the question ‘’should I sign a separation agreement?’’ The stock answer is ‘’that it all depends’’. However, our answer hinges on your plans and the specifics of your separation agreement. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form. Should I Sign a Separation Agreement or Get Divorced? In many family situations, a husband or wife will suggest the signing of a separation agreement as they want to split up and divide their property and assets but they do not think that they have the grounds to start divorce proceedings. There is still a common misconception that to start divorce proceedings you or your husband or wife need to be at fault in some way or you need to have been separated for at least 2 years. The introduction of no-fault divorce proceedings in England means you no longer need to explain why you want to get divorced and you do not have to have been separated for a minimum period before you can apply for a divorce. Under the new no-fault divorce proceedings process an application may be made jointly by a couple or individually by a husband or wife. The process to obtain your final order of divorce is similar whether you apply as a couple or as an individual. Although you may now be able to apply for a no-fault divorce there may be reasons why you do not want to get divorced. For example, you may not want to do so for religious reasons. If your spouse wants to apply for a divorce then you have very limited grounds to object because of the rules surrounding no-fault divorce. Talk to a Family Law Solicitor.   Talk to a family law solicitor before you sign a separation agreement or decide to start divorce proceedings as it is best to take advice on whether a separation agreement or divorce proceedings and a financial court order are in your best interests. In most family situations you do not need a separation agreement and a divorce and financial court order because the financial court order will deal with everything that goes into the separation agreement. However, there are some situations where you may need both. For example, if you have separated from your spouse and agreed to a sale of the family home but you have found a buyer before you can obtain a conditional order of divorce and a financial court order by consent. [related_posts] Why is a Financial Court Order Preferable to a Separation Agreement? Divorce solicitors often think a financial court order is preferable to a separation agreement because: A financial court order is legally binding. It cannot be changed (save for maintenance orders) unless there was fraud, misrepresentation or non-disclosure A separation agreement is not legally binding but it will carry a lot of weight if either spouse subsequently decides to start divorce proceedings and make a financial claim that is not consistent with what was put into the separation agreement Although you can agree to share pensions in a separation agreement the pension share cannot be implemented by the pension administrator until a pension sharing order has been made by a court in divorce proceedings and the final order of divorce has been obtained If you intend to get divorced but you want to sign a separation agreement first then you will incur separation agreement legal fees and later spend more on legal costs in sorting out your divorce and getting a financial court order. The separation agreement costs can be avoided altogether if you know you want a divorce as you can start no-fault divorce proceedings It is not all just about the legal fees; instructing a North West divorce solicitor to prepare a separation agreement and to later start divorce and financial court order proceedings is potentially more stressful than instructing your divorce lawyer to sort out the divorce and financial court order When Should You Sign a Separation Agreement?  A separation agreement may be a good option for you if you have no plans to get divorced for religious or other reasons. You should only sign a separation agreement after there has been financial disclosure so you can make informed choices about what goes into the agreement. You should also only sign a separation agreement after you have taken advice from a family law solicitor on the contents. Although separation agreements are not legally binding on the court, they do carry a great deal of weight if either a husband or wife brings a financial claim in later divorce proceedings. You should therefore only sign a separation agreement if you intend to be bound by it. How Can Evolve Family Law Help You. Our family law and divorce solicitors can help you with: Advice on whether you need a separation agreement and the contents No-fault divorce proceedings Financial court orders by agreement after direct discussions or after family mediation Financial court order applications if you are not able to reach a financial agreement Children law orders if you cannot reach an agreement on residence or contact arrangements for your children Converting your existing separation agreement into a financial court order Amicable divorce – one lawyer divorce service Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney if you have separated or you are starting divorce proceedings Our divorce solicitors will provide expert advice tailored to your personal and financial circumstances. For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Feb 16, 2024   ·   5 minute read
Planning Together for Children

Planning Together for Children

Planning Together for Children is the name of a course run by the organisation CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support) for separated or divorced parents.    In this blog, our children law solicitors look at the Planning Together for Children course and explain your options if you are a separated parent struggling to reach an agreement with your ex-partner on post-separation parenting arrangements for your children.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Planning Together for Children has replaced the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) If your friends have told you that after they separated from their spouse, they went on a SPIP (or Separated Parents Information Programme) then you need to be aware that the Planning Together for Children has replaced the SPIP.  Can you use the Planning Together for Children resource? Access to the Planning Together for Children resource is limited to those parents and carers who are ordered by a family court judge to attend the course or who are referred to the course by a Family Court Advisor in children law court proceedings.  You therefore cannot access the online E-learning resources or attend the Parenting Together for Children workshop if you are a separated parent who is looking for information to help you reach an agreement about the parenting arrangements for your children. Nor can you use the resource if you are struggling with sharing parenting responsibilities with your ex-partner but neither of you has applied to the court for a child arrangement order, prohibited steps order, specific issue order or relocation order.  Options if you cannot use the Planning Together for Children resource If you want help in parenting together after separation there are a lot of useful books and online resources. If you need help with family dynamics speaking to a family therapist or counsellor may help as they may be able to assist you both in understanding the priorities of the other parent and help you focus on the best interests of your child when reaching a compromise about shared care, contact arrangements or parenting styles.  If you are struggling to reach an agreement about parenting after a separation or divorce you may not need to apply to court for a child arrangement order as you may be able to reach an agreement through:  Solicitor round table meeting  Solicitor negotiations  Family mediation   Once you have reached an agreement it is a good idea to record what you have agreed in a parenting plan. These types of plans need to be reviewed as your child grows up or circumstances change. For example, if your child wants to go to football sessions on a Saturday or ballet on a Wednesday after school or if one parent has to move house out of the area because of a job move.  You might also be interested in:   [related_posts] A Planning Together for Children referral If you are ordered by a judge to attend the Planning Together for Children course or a Family Court Advisor makes a request to the court for a referral there is no charge for accessing the online resources or going to the workshop.  Whilst you may not be a fan of e-learning or workshops it is important to try and get as much as possible from the course to give you the best shot possible of reaching an agreement with your ex-partner or being able to tell the family judge that you did so.  If you do not go to a Planning Together for Children course when ordered to do so by a judge the court may reorder your attendance on the course. This may delay your court application. Any delay or refusal to attend may make it less likely that the court will make the type of child arrangement order you are seeking.  What does the Planning Together for Children course cover? The e-learning section of the course will look at matters such as:   What happens if you go ahead with the child arrangement order or specific issue order court application?   How a separation and how you handle the separation can affect your child   Conflict and its impact on your child     Looking at the family situation from your child’s perspective   Supportive co-parenting – what it is and how it works   Communication skills to help you listen to your child and co-parent    Once the e-learning section is completed you move on to a workshop. This will normally take place online. Although the workshop is normally held online there are never more than 6 parents in a workshop group. Your ex-partner will not be in the same workshop as you.  The workshop focuses on the negative impact of parental conflict on children, how best to manage conflict and how to improve communication with your child and ex-partner so you can effectively co-parent.  The course will encourage you to discuss and agree on a parenting plan for your child to set out the residence, contact and other important care details for your child to avoid the need for you or your ex-partner to go ahead with your child arrangement order application.  How can Evolve Family Law help you? At Evolve Family Law all our family law solicitors are committed to resolving parenting disputes outside of court wherever possible. For example, through providing legal support during family mediation or helping you negotiate a parenting plan. Reaching an agreement is not always possible. For example, if you fear child abduction as your ex-partner has threatened to take your child overseas or if your ex-spouse is displaying alienating behaviour and refusing to let you see your child, or if you are concerned about contact arrangement because of a history of domestic violence.  Our family law solicitors will listen carefully to your needs and priorities and help you secure the agreement or court order you need for your children.   For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.    
Louise Halford
Jan 29, 2024   ·   5 minute read
Divorce Agreement Decree Document Break up

Can I Get a Divorce Online?

Evolve divorce solicitors can confirm that you can get divorced online with us. However, many of our North West family law clients like to pop into one of our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire or North Manchester to meet their divorce solicitor face-to-face.  The decision is yours to make – whether you are divorcing online or meeting with us at our offices you get a named divorce solicitor to handle your no-fault divorce and to answer any queries. Of course, you get the same level of excellent client service whether you decide to meet with us or not.  If you need help with applying for a no-fault divorce call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   The no-fault divorce   With the introduction of no-fault divorce proceedings, the divorce process in England became a bit more streamlined. Sadly, the divorce timescales have not speeded up as you are still looking at around 7 months from the start of your divorce application until you get your final order of divorce.  The process and timeframe are the same whether you are applying purely online or after meeting with your divorce solicitor. It takes around 7 months to get divorced because the law imposes time delays on how quickly you can finalise your divorce. Our divorce solicitors understand that these delays are frustrating when you know your own mind and you do not want to back track on your decision to divorce your husband or wife.  The good thing about the no-fault divorce process is that you can choose to apply jointly for a divorce with your husband or wife. There is no requirement to do so. Whether you apply as a sole divorce applicant or jointly with your husband or wife the divorce process is very similar. In addition, even if your spouse does not agree to the divorce there are very limited ways to oppose the divorce.  [related_posts] Why see a divorce solicitor if you can divorce online?   ‘Why see a divorce solicitor if you can divorce online?’ is a good question. There are many different reasons why you may want to meet us in person. For example, your divorce is an immensely distressing personal experience for you and you do not want to feel like a ‘number’. Alternatively, you may feel confident about Evolve Family Law handling your no-fault divorce online but you want to meet with a specialist family law solicitor to discuss the parenting, custody and contact arrangements for your children or the potential financial settlement.  Sometimes nothing beats sitting down with your family law solicitor to understand your legal options and to work out the solution that works best for you and your family. It may be that you are comfortable having discussions online after a first meeting or that you need the reassurance of a face-to-face meeting to help you make some of the most important decisions that will affect your life and that of your children. For example, will the care of the children be shared by co-parenting or will the children reside with you? Will you keep the family home or should you agree to the sale of the property and to the making of a pension sharing order? Should you agree to a clean break financial court order and what would that type of court order mean for your family if you lost your job and could not return to work?    A personal online divorce   Whether you instruct us online or in person we provide a personal and professional divorce service.  At Evolve Family Law we recognise that every client and family is different. That is why we discuss with you how you want us to work for you. It could be online, email, phone, in person or even using old-fashioned post. We aim to find the divorce process that is the least stressful for you.   How much does a divorce cost?  If you apply for a no-fault divorce as a sole applicant or jointly with your spouse, we can provide a fixed-fee divorce service.  We offer a range of other fixed-fee services. For more information on our fees Download Our Price Guide.  If you need help with applying for a no-fault divorce call our team or complete our online enquiry form. 
Robin Charrot
Jan 23, 2024   ·   4 minute read